Courtesy of The New York Times
Battleground: Gun control after the Parkland shooting
March 1, 2018
On Wednesday, Feb. 14, tragedy struck at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. as former student Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people and injured 14 more, making it the 11th deadliest school massacre in world history. Due to the involvement of guns, a nationwide debate has once again started regarding gun laws in the U.S.
Cruz, 19, set off a fire alarm before using an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle to shoot at fleeing students and faculty members. He had purchased the weapon legally from a local gun store a year prior.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation had both received several tips surrounding Cruz’s disturbing social media posts, desire to kill, and even a comment saying that he desired to be a professional school shooter. However, neither party took effective action.
Cruz was scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday, Feb. 27, but it was cancelled with no further explanation.
The shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla. has provoked a call for tougher gun control. It’s logical to think that by making it harder for the killer to legally purchase a gun, the likelihood of this tragedy would be reduced, but what many people fail to understand is that criminals don’t abide by the law.
Gun restrictions and regulations only affect law-abiding citizens. Approximately 98 percent of mass shootings take place in gun-free zones. Killers target these locations because they know there aren’t any good guys that are armed. Prohibition always fails to keep contraband out of the hands of criminals.
For example, during the alcohol prohibition, shops opened up underground bars, and criminal activity in the form of organized crime increased greatly. The War On Drugs did not work either; drugs are as easy as ever to get, despite law enforcement efforts.
At the end of the day, if someone wants a gun, they will be able to get their hands on one, either legally or illegally. Nikolas Cruz, the Florida high school shooter, acquired his weapon legally. By banning guns or implementing stricter regulations, all you do is take guns out of the hands of good, law-abiding citizens and tilt the playing-field in the favor of criminals.
Our Founding Fathers gave us the right to bear arms, not for hunting but for protecting ourselves against tyrannical governments. Throughout history, evil people with interests contrary to the population get into power, and when this inevitably happens, we must be armed. The government is far more dangerous than any individual. It’s ironic that the same people who compare Trump to Hitler are trusting him with confiscating all our guns.
In order to prevent these shootings, when our intelligence agencies have information, they must act on it. The FBI failed to act on several tips regarding Cruz’s disturbing social media posts, one saying, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”
A more in depth background check while purchasing a weapon could help prevent mentally ill people from legally obtaining a gun. But just making it harder to legally purchase a gun won’t significantly help. In Pittsburgh, 79 percent of gun related crimes involve the perpetrator carrying a firearm owned by someone else.
Since gun control has failed time and time again, what would work? Repealing gun-free zones and encouraging citizens to arm themselves. The killer at a Sutherland Springs church in Texas last November was stopped by a neighbor with an AR-15 rifle. The year before in South Carolina, a firefighter possessing a concealed handgun stopped a school shooting.
We defend our president with guns. We defend our banks with guns. We defend our celebrities with guns. Why not our children?
In a country where there are more mass shootings than there are days, it seems obvious that reform is needed. According to EverytownResearch.org, around 35,000 Americans die each year to guns and around 77,000 more are injured. In comparison, Great Britain only has 50-60 gun deaths each year. The U.S. has the highest gun homicide rate of any first world country, as well as the most relaxed gun policies. If the U.S. wants to see any real change, we need to implement sensible gun control.
A starting point should be universal background checks, something that 97 percent of Americans support. Increased background checks would have prevented Nikolas Cruz, who had multiple red flags and warnings to the FBI, from receiving an AR-15. Recently, Trump revoked an Obama-era law that expanded mental health consideration in background checks. Preventing mentally ill people from owning guns seems pretty obvious, but because of loose background checks our country can’t even do that. Thorough background checks could have also stopped the Texas church shooter from buying a gun, as he was kicked out of the Air Force for a domestic violence conviction.
The next step in solving our gun crisis would be banning assault rifles. Having military-style weapons out of the hands of mentally-ill people is a no brainer, and the ban of assault rifles would help do that. Cruz carried out his massacre using an AR-15, a gun that was used in the Aurora, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, and Pulse Nightclub shootings. The banning of assault rifles would not have stopped these shootings as a whole, but less damage would have been done if the shooters used handguns. An assault rifle is not needed for protection, as a citizen can protect oneself just fine with a handgun.
In the recent Texas mass shooting, a “good guy with a gun” stopped it; however, to think that civilians could have stopped the Vegas shooting, the Pulse Nightclub shooting, or even the Parkland shooting is unreasonable. During these shootings it is unclear who is the gunman, and an ordinary civilian does not have the training or knowledge of how to respond. More civilians would end up in the crossfire, and it will only result in more death. The only way to limit gun violence is through increased gun control, and limited accessibility of guns to the mentally-ill.