Last week, nine people were massacred at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. In September, one student was shot and killed at Sacramento City College, 15 miles from our university. Last May, six students were murdered at UC Santa Barbara, a school where many UC Davis students have family and friends.
How many more of us must die? How many more young adults away at college, turning their dreams into realities, must die? We as college students are prime targets for large scale shootings — there are thousands of us in relatively confined areas. At what point will politicians take measures to protect our lives from school shootings and try to solve America’s massive gun problem?
Often it seems insensitive to politicize a tragedy. However, the people with power to effect legitimate change are the politicians, who can write, debate and defend new or existing legislation. So, Congress, why not introduce “common sense gun control,” an idea President Obama has mentioned several times as a result of the recent shootings?
It really is just what it sounds like: common sense. Acquiring guns should not be absurdly easy. No one living in the United States, excluding the military and law enforcement, needs an assault rifle or high-capacity ammunition; if guns are for self-defense and sport, as most gun-backers claim, then owning military-grade weaponry is superfluous.
Some gun control opponents believe that, instead of curtailing the number of guns in American society, the key to reducing gun violence is to own guns as a way to defend themselves. However, if you break down this issue logically, how in the world would adding more guns into a broken system lead to less violence? It’s an absurd idea and an asinine proposition.
All those who oppose any sort of basic gun control are perpetuating a gun culture that makes these tragedies commonplace. No, Wayne LaPierre and your friends at the National Rifle Association, nobody is taking away your guns. Nobody is taking away your constitutional right to own a gun by limiting access to weapons of warfare. Enough with the ignorant, defiant rhetoric. The world has seen how successful gun control can be (i.e. Australia and Great Britain), and now is the time for the U.S. to catch up with the times. Americans are not inherently more violent than people of any other country, and the idea that there is nothing we can do is preposterous, considering we are the only developed country where mass shootings occur regularly.
One cannot discuss guns and gun control without touching on mental health. On a national level, the editorial board strongly believes that background checks should include more-thorough psychological health screenings for those attempting to purchase a gun. To localize the issue, we also encourage students and others to utilize the resources provided by the UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services. So, let’s continue to expand mental health services. As our generation continues to fight the stigma associated with mental disorders, it’s on us to bring these issues to the mainstream and to ensure that people aren’t afraid to seek out help.
No more responding to a preventable catastrophe with “stuff happens.” Victims and their families need more than just our thoughts and prayers. In many recent shootings, relatives of both the perpetrators and the victims have called for enhanced gun control within days of the tragedy. For them, ensuring the end of gun violence is part of their mourning process. We have the means and ability to lessen the number of people dying in this country; what are we waiting for?