It’s an unfortunate reality, but some things that need changing don’t change until something tragic happens. You know, the whole learning from mistakes philosophy that pulls a little something positive out of an otherwise devastating situation. So, when I heard about the shootings in Tucson, Arizona, my sadness was accompanied by the resolve that the tragedy should inspire change that would inevitably lead to a safer America. I mean, people would see the danger of allowing just about anyone to carry a concealed weapon. It was not the first time that an unstable individual walked into the equivalent of a sporting goods store and legally purchased a firearm that would take the lives of innocent civilians. Hopefully, this time, I thought, it would be the last…
But then I started following the debates that transpired in the wake of the chaos. I was nothing short of dumbfounded. I didn’t see the call for harsher gun laws that I was hoping for. Instead, I saw exactly the opposite. Claims that if more people had guns, the crazies with guns would be less inclined to use theirs and, if someone were to open fire, someone else could pull their weapon and take out the shooter. There are two assumptions to these assertions that are, for lack of a better word, ass backwards.
First, they assume that a crazed shooter is actually concerned about his/her own well being in a premeditated attack. Even the 22 year old in this situation left behind what could be regarded as a suicide note. An envelope in a safe saying the assassination was planned. He wasn’t writing that for his sake… if he planned it, then he knew damn well it was planned. That was left behind in case he didn’t survive, an acknowledged possibility that clearly didn’t stop him.
The second assumption behind these claims is that an ordinary citizen carrying a concealed weapon can make a split second decision to pull the said weapon and shoot the shooter without shooting anyone else or getting shot himself by another person who might misjudge his intention. This is a very big, and potentially hazardous train of thought. Even at this attack, there were two people in the crowd with their own guns. One mistook the other for the shooter and neither could take out the real shooter in the time it took him to fire 30 shots. There is a reason why police officers go through such intensive training. It is a tremendous responsibility to carry a gun, and an even bigger responsibility to use it! Though we would all like to think we would be immune to the panic that arises in the line of fire, we are not. And though we may like to imagine that we are secretly harboring innate bad-guy killing skills like the ones we seen in action movies, we are not. Giving me a gun would make me armed, but probably more dangerous to other innocent bystanders than to the crazed shooter.
Since terrorists like the one in Tucson would be more-than-likely undeterred from their attacks by gun-wielding amateurs like myself and since most of us do not instinctively know when and how to operate a firearm, the arguments circulating in support of guns for all are absolutely ludicrous.
As crazy as it seems to advocate for possession of concealed weaponry throughout college campuses and beyond, the most recent shootings call attention to perhaps an even bigger issue: the type of guns that are legally available for purchase. While possessing a concealed firearm arguably falls within the realm of second amendment rights, I find it difficult to accept that anyone can buy a semi-automatic pistol with a 33-bullet clip. What other purpose does a Glock like the one used by the Tucson perpetrator serve than to kill a lot of people? Hunting rifles are for hunting. Handguns, some believe, are for self-protection. Semiautomatic weapons do not have a place in the hands of everyday citizens. Bottom line.
As debates rage on, I can’t help but think that gun control isn’t a place for politics. It’s a place for common sense. The support for weaker gun control laws in response to the Tucson shootings is a disgrace to those who have been killed in demonstrations of mindless violence. Guns don’t kill people. Sure, that's true. But, people kill people with guns! If we make it easier for people to get guns, then we make it easier for people to kill people. For anyone who hasn’t noticed, this isn’t the Wild West. And though you may need a gun to be the bad-guy, you don’t need one to be the hero. So, why aren't we disarming the bad-guys?