In this country, how many times have we sat in horror as places that we visit daily have been tormented with the sound of gunfire? Depending on where you live, it could be daily as playgrounds, neighborhood blocks, and even homes are often riddled with bullets in some urban communities. But even for those who think they’ve found a safe haven by living in the suburbs or pursuing a well-to-do lifestyle, they also have had to deal with the shock and awe that result from mass shootings. Everywhere from public schools and college campuses to movie theaters, shopping malls, and even churches have become sites where caution tape has been rolled out, shell casings have been counted, and bodies have been removed. It’s a horrific scene, but it seems like it’s becoming more and more common. Yet, while we see this explosion of gun violence erupting across the country, some people, including legislators, think that the best way to handle it is to increase the number of people who can carry a concealed weapon.
The State of Idaho has recently gained media attention for a bill that was just signed by Governor C.L. Otter, allowing college students to carry concealed weapons. Passage of the bill makes the state the seventh that allows for firearms to be brought on to college campuses and the bill will go in to effect on July 1st.
While all of the state’s colleges and universities were against the measure, the bill passed through with Republican support. A college professor recently penned an op-ed featured in the New York Times asking the question, “When May I Shoot a Student?”
The provocative nature of the biology professor’s question leads to other questions around gun laws like Stand Your Ground that leave decision-making about shooting to ordinary citizens with no training, leaving it to juries to decide if the shooting was within “reason.”
But even more troubling is the fact that there were measures to eliminate large ammunition magazines and require background checks for private sales that failed in the Senate almost a year ago. Since then, nothing new has been seriously considered and even these minimum provisions aren’t enough to truly protect us from the crossfire.
A recent interview with the Father of the Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza, Peter, revealed that Adam was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome or what is now part of the Autism Spectrum, but he was likely suffering from some other mental disease that went untreated and was likely what caused him to fatally shoot 20 first graders and six adults.
Whether it was schizophrenia, as his father believes, or something else, it would not have protected the victims of Sandy Hook because Lanza was not the person who bought the guns.
However as we struggle to find solutions to all of the problems of gun fatalities that we see in this country, we have to take some step forward to protect all of our citizens.
Now is the time to pursue sensible gun reform.
The second amendment is clear and has been affirmed by the Supreme Court, but we cannot sit on our hands while innocent people are shot and while the gun lobby finds more ways for people to have access to guns.
Somehow, there is a population of our country that thinks the best way to fight fire is with fire: gunfire. Unfortunately, when you do that, it only increases the spread. We need to put pressure on Congress to focus on this issue, especially in light of recent developments. There are a lot of important issues to deal with, but this must be one of them.