America needs gun reform, now

CAITLYN SAMPLEY / AGGIE

Addressing the bigger issue of gun accessibility

A 19-year-old former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., opened fire there on Feb. 14 with an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle, killing 17 students and faculty. Just six months prior to the horrific incident, the gunman commented on YouTube, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”

On the afternoon of the shooting, the gunman took an Uber to school and began the massacre of his classmates an hour before being taken into custody. Aaron Feis, an assistant coach and security guard, sacrificed his own life to save those of students, dying a hero. Another student, Anthony Borges, is currently in the hospital after being shot five times through a door as he closed it to block the shooter from harming the rest of his peers.

A concerned parent of one of the student survivors explained that her daughter’s biggest fear was a school shooting and had therefore wanted to be home-schooled.

Students shouldn’t feel afraid to attend school and receive an education. It’s appalling that school shootings — and shootings in general — have become so frequent that they’re viewed as “normal.”

The attack was said to be premeditated, with the gunman’s former classmates describing him as reckless and stating that his actions were unsurprising. He was abusive to his now ex-girlfriend, threatening to kill her, and had been expelled from Douglas High for fighting with his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. There were several clear warning signs that should have been more attentively addressed. In many cases, these warning signs of potential violence aren’t taken seriously until it’s too late.

Often, shootings result from multiple oversights and failures in communication. This shooter was volatile and unstable. But mental instability is not the primary driver of shootings — guns are.

The U.S. has 224 million more guns and had 72 more mass shooters than any other country from 1966 to 2012. This shocking number is undoubtedly linked to the immense number of guns that the U.S. makes readily available to its citizens. According to the same study, 31 percent of gunmen involved in shootings worldwide have been American. Guns and access to them are the cause of these shootings, which cannot be attributed to racial conflict or mental health.

The AR-15 is a military assault rifle and has been used in several other mass shootings. It has no business being in civilian hands. In order to purchase the gun, the gunman had to complete a background check and fill out paperwork that indicated he did not suffer from a mental illness. However, he had a history of disciplinary action, which was obviously not indicated in his paperwork. As a result of the recent shooting, the gun shop that sold this particular gun has been closed indefinitely.

Australia, a country with a similar culture surrounding guns, shows that nationwide gun reform works. Australia hasn’t seen a fatal mass shooting since 1996.

The Editorial Board demands that these issues not be taken lightly and that legislators start making real change by reforming laws surrounding gun control. Too many innocent lives have been taken. This could have been prevented if people had decided to take action — before it was once again too late.

 

Written by: The Editorial Board