Matt Olson, Copy Editor
Last Thursday, Chris Harper-Mercer brought numerous firearms to Umpqua Community College in Oregon and proceeded to murder his classmates. News broke over the weekend of a California school shooting plot that was stopped before it could be enacted. These incidents are occurring with such frequency that most of the population has become desensitized – will you be thinking about Thursday’s shooting in two weeks? Yet again, nothing will be done.
An MSNBC article written in the wake of the shootings identified 45 instances of gun violence, or attempted gun violence, that have taken place on school grounds in 2015. While many of these occurrences led to minimal if any bloodshed, 45 instances of gun violence or attempted gun violence on school grounds is 45 too many.
The fact that these statistics will do nothing to dissuade Texas lawmakers from allowing guns on university campuses is nothing short of infuriating, if not particularly surprising. Governor Greg Abbott and the politicians who backed the “open carry” and “campus carry” bills seem less interested in student safety and the safety of the general public than in scoring political points for symbolic gestures.
Gun enthusiasts refuse to see guns as the problem, and to be fair, they have a point – not every person who picks up a gun will use it on someone else. At the same time, this country’s gun culture acts as an enabler for individuals inclined to perform mass shootings. Aurora theater shooter James Holmes, Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza, Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis, Lafayette theater shooter John Russel Houser and Harper-Mercer – among countless others – were not at all hindered in their acquisition of deadly weapons, in part because gun rights activists and lobbies and like-minded politicians had sought to limit barriers in purchasing and owning those weapons.
Some voices on the pro-gun side may try to argue that armed students could have fought off the shooter, but these individuals fail to consider how few students would be adequately prepared for an active shooter situation. Veterans and those who have received military or police training could potentially eliminate a shooter. Hunting and target shooting do not qualify as adequate preparation. Hunting and target shooting do not involve aiming and firing a weapon at an armed individual, who is also aiming and firing back. Hunting and target shooting do not involve crossfire with other armed individuals, who may be difficult to discern as the active shooter. Hunting and target shooting do not involve the threat of death.
Gun owners and gun ownership are not the problem, but guns are key factors in mass shootings, and the culture’s inexplicable worship of guns only allows for additional mass shootings to take place. Those fighting for unregulated gun rights only enable people who should not own guns to do so. Legislation that allows members of the public to openly carry firearms may help a politician’s image by exciting his or her gun-enthused constituents, but it also seemingly dares those who would carry out a mass shooting to do so.
Guns are too often seen as the answer, and gun users too often fail to consider the finality of these answers. On Saturday, 8-year-old McKayla Dyer was shot by her 11-year-old neighbor in Tennessee after she refused to show him her puppy. The boy likely saw shooting Dyer as a means of putting an end to the argument.
President Obama and fellow liberal politicians may attempt to affect some change, which will only be met with legislative gridlock. For any difference to be made, a change has to come from the culture itself.