Revisiting Gun Control for Fall Elections

Recent Surge in Gun Violence Proves that Weapon Use Needs Stronger Regulation


A mourner pays tribute to those killed in the massacre at a movie screening of The Dark Night Rises in Aurora, CO. (Courtesy of Mark Boster/LA Times/MCT)

The recent years in the US has been plagued by gun violence. In 2007, 32 people were murdered at Virginia Tech. At Fort Hood in 2009, 55 people were shot by a former Army psychologist, leaving 13 dead. In 2011 in Tucson, AZ, six were killed and 12 wounded, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. And just this summer, 12 were killed and dozens more shot at a midnight screening for “The Dark Knight Rises,” another six were shot at a Sikh temple less than a month later.

Mass shootings, assault with deadly weapons, unprovoked “self defense”— you name it.  The events are traumatizing and subsequently dramatized, and then the world moves on as if it were the same as a brush fire or a hurricane. They’re not the same thing. Gun violence is preventable. You can’t be pro-natural disaster the same way you can be pro-gun. Gun violence happens and it shouldn’t. We live in a country where the color of the leotard of our Olympic champion is enough to spark controversy. So where’s the controversy over gun control? Where’s the outrage, the national conversation?

The problem with the national conversation of gun control is that there isn’t one, and this being an election year, the political elite have “more important things” to concentrate on, like massive unemployment, slow economic recovery and healthcare reform. Fair enough, but it’s not enough.

The victims and families of these shootings deserve more. An apology, a casual “sorry your loved ones died, sometimes that happens” isn’t going to cut it. It’s disrespectful and irresponsible that the debate about gun control has been shunted to the side. Political pundits on 24-hour news channels don’t get to decide that now isn’t the right time for the gun control debate just because it’s an election year and Mitt Romney’s gaffes are more fun to talk about.

When asked about “The Dark Knight Rises” shooting, President Obama said, “These kinds of terrible and tragic events are happening with too much regularity for us not to do some soul searching and examine additional ways that we can prevent such violence.” He’s right. When anything, it doesn’t matter what it is, harms the American public repeatedly and horrifically, something should be done about it. Senseless mass shootings are terrible.

Mayor Bloomberg has repeatedly criticized both presidential candidates for not speaking out to advocate gun control legislation saying, “The fact that criminals, terrorists and other mentally ill people have access to guns is a national crisis.” This is true. Sane people don’t conduct mass shootings, and the fact that there aren’t stringent, nationwide steps put in place to prevent those not of sound mind from obtaining weapons is abominable.

Obama and Romney, if either of you are going to be my president, and if I’m going to cast my vote for you to be one of the most powerful people on earth, the leader of the free world, I want to know certain things. I want to know your views. I want to know what laws you’d like to enact. I want to know how you’re going to protect me and the people I love from being slaughtered by a gunman with military grade weapons.

Presidential candidates dodge questions all the time, and though it’s infuriating, it’s an accepted necessary evil of the political process. Some issues however, like gun control, are too dire to put aside. We have to talk about it, asking questions like: What does “well-regulated militia” mean? Does the Second Amendment protect concealed assault weapons?  Do military grade weapons fall under the amendment? Do background checks and waiting periods lower crime rates? Does gun control lower gun crime? Someone (me) is asking these questions. Candidates, please answer them.