Gun control is necessary


Heather Gann, Staff Columnist

Last week in El Paso, Texas, Patrick W. Cruisius, 21, opened fire at a Walmart and killed 22 people. He claims in his manifesto that this was a “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” This massacre and all the similar shootings that have occurred this year could have been avoided by one simple act: a stricter gun control policy in the United States. 

This is a very hot button topic for most, as some want to ban all guns outright, but others fiercely protect their Second Amendment rights. For those who use the Second Amendment as their defense: when the constitution was written, the most widely-used gun was a musket. In order to load a musket, one must first pour powder into the barrel of the gun, place the musket ball onto the powder and then pour more powder on top of that. Only after these steps were completed could you cock and shoot your weapon. This process would have taken several minutes, so fewer casualties were possible than with the automatic or semi-automatic weapons of today. A type of automatic shotgun did exist at the time, but according to the National Rifle Association’s blog, it was not used often because it was too cumbersome. 

When the constitution was written, the country was fresh out of the Revolutionary War, where every son and father had fought for the country and to defend their land. At that time, it was necessary for random citizens to be armed, because they were ready to go to war at the drop of a hat. Today, we have several branches of military and a police force who are provided guns by the government, so the need for militia preparedness is no more. 

To see the positives of gun control, one could look to the United Kingdom. In August of 1987, there was a massacre in Hungerford, Berkshire where Michael Ryan murdered 16 people with two semi-automatic rifles and a handgun, before killing himself. He was legally registered for all of these weapons. This put an end to the use of any semi-automatic weapons in the U.K. Through new legislation, gun control laws grew more stringent, and today the U.K. is second in strictness of gun policy only to Japan. According to The Guardian, they have had one mass shooting since 1996. 

The United States has had 255 mass shooting this year alone, and it’s only August. 

The Hungerford massacre is a perfect example of why gun control is so necessary. Ryan was a seemingly normal man with three fully registered weapons who snapped and killed 16 people. This same situation applies to most if not all of the United States’ mass shootings. Rather than some lowly criminal with a stolen weapon, it’s the normal people, the ones no one expected, with weapons our government allowed them to have, that are the real killers. There should be a ban on any sort of automatic weapons for a civilian, as there is absolutely no reason to own one. 

Furthermore, if a citizen wishes to purchase a handgun to protect themselves, they should go through a rigorous background screening and psychological evaluation. Guns should also only be sold at specialized stores, not in your local Walmart. I am willing to recognize that a criminal may obtain a weapon illegally and people need to protect themselves, but it shouldn’t be easy for just anyone to get one, and if there are less circulating, there’s less of a chance of one falling into the wrong hands.