UCC Shooting and the Gun Control Debate

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UCC Shooting and the Gun Control Debate

Tayde McDonald, Senior Reporter

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On Thursday October 1, 2015, a man initiated a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. He is reported to have killed at least 13 people, injuring at least twenty in the morning when he attacked the school. As of 7:21 pm this day, (October 1), the perpetrator has been killed in a shootout between himself and the police, but his identify has yet to be released to the public. The only information revealed is that he was a 20 year old male, there is suspicion that he revealed his intentions last night on a 4Chan forum.

This event marks the 294th mass shooting of the year, a year that is only 274 days finished. This fact alone has managed to spark a gun debate that is all too familiar to American ears, for it’s the kind we hear after every shooting occurs. There are three primary sides to the debate: the liberal viewpoint that banning guns would stop crime, the lesser liberal opinion that we shouldn’t ban guns but that they should be regulated, and the conservative view that the second amendment should be left alone, and guns should remain as they are.  So once again America asks itself, would the banning or regulating of guns put a stop to the violent crimes that seem to plague our country? Or would it only perpetuate such crime?

President Obama has made it clear which side of the fence he resides. At 3:00 pm today he addressed the nation with a speech where he criticized those who are against gun regulation.

“”Earlier this year I answered a question in an interview by saying: The United States of America is the one advanced nation on earth in which we do not have sufficient common sense gun safety laws, even in the face of repeated mass killings, and later that day there was a mass shooting in a movie theatre in Lafayette, Louisiana.”

“We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest deaths. We know that other countries in response to one mass shooting have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings…. Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours.”

“When Americans are killed in mine disasters we work to make mines safer. When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities. We have seatbelt laws because we know they save lives. So the notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon when there are law abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations, it doesn’t make sense.”

He closes by asking the American people to change their politics, and work to change gun laws in order to prevent mass shootings.

But to some, Obama’s mindset is too limited. In 2012 Stefan Molyneux, a popular Canadian blogger with 272,000 subscribers on Youtube, posted a video where he speaks against regulation of any kind. In the video he showed many statistics that seem to contradict Obama’s words.

“Fewer than a 100,000 guns are used in violent crimes yearly, and one thing that’s interesting about the US is that the ownership tends to be highest in those areas of society where violence is the lowest… so gun ownership tends to concentrate where violence is the least.”

He goes on to explain that gun ownership has been rising throughout the decades and is at an all-time high now, but that it is only doing so as a result of the crime increasing. In his eyes, correlation equals causation only in the sense that as crime increases so does the rate at which people arm themselves against it.

He says that guns are used in defense six to seven more times than they are used in offense, and that those who defend themselves with guns are less likely to be injured. He even explains that for those who wield guns in self-defense, a quarter of them don’t even fire it and only use it as a threat.

“Crime rates drop substantially after highly publicized instances of victims arming or defending themselves.” So guns tend to reduce the likelihood of crime.

He directly criticizes the argument for regulation, saying that only 16% of gun owners acquired their gun from a retailer, and 44% get it privately. The amount of illegal gun owners is very large, and that targeting retailers would not affect those people. General reduction of gun ownership has no result on violent crime, according to him.

However this begs the question: why are the United States’ fire homicide statistics so high in comparison to other countries? Although the US has about 5% of the world’s population, its citizens own somewhere between 35-50% of all guns. As Obama said, most other advanced nations have denied the right to own guns to their civilians, and crime is extremely low in those countries in comparison to the US.

The Second Amendment of our Constitution reads, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” In many ways I agree with this. In fact, I find myself agreeing with right-wing viewpoints more often than many of my liberal peers. But I take issue with the idea that every single aspect of the Constitution should remain the same for all eternity, never to be analyzed or scrutinized or altered to represent the changing views of the people. The problem with this Amendment lies in it’s own words, “being necessary to the security of a free state.” Our founding fathers lived in a very different time from us, a time where if you had described the technological state of our military now, they would have gawked in disbelief. Back then the most common gun was a single-shot muskets that took a long time to be reloaded. There were no fast-shooting machine guns or light pistols that could be easily concealed under one’s belt. The concept of a society rising up against a cruel government by weaponizing itself was far more realistic because the military wasn’t vastly stronger than an armed public.

Nowadays the thought of the public fighting an evil government with weapons sounds like something out of a YA dystopian novel to me. “They can’t suppress us, we have guns!” Well they have more than guns, they have highly defensive armor and helmets with bullet proof material protecting them. They have flamethrowers and machine guns and gas. They have years of training and fighting tactics built into them. They have experienced war generals talking to them in headsets, telling them exactly what to do. They have helicopters, tanks, jet planes. They have bombs. If our government ever went rogue, I highly doubt that we would stop them with guns.

I have the same opinion on those who argue that people should have guns to protect themselves against mass shooters. This argument makes more sense in regards to private home break ins where it usually only involves a few people and the gunner commonly uses a gun only as a threat, but for a mass shooting? Do people really think that in the hysteria, panic, and chaos of something like the UCC shooting, one of the victims would have been calm enough to fire at the gunman? In the midst of people screaming, sirens blazing, police shouting, bullets firing, blood spilling, a terrified, crying, untrained student would have been able to steady his mind and his hand long enough to identify and shoot at the madman? I don’t think so.

It’s true, the kinds of people who are deranged and cruel enough to commit a mass shooting are the kinds who would ignore a law targeted at them. It’s true that regulation would not stop them from attacking people. But gun regulation wouldn’t just attempt to stop those people, it would also stop children and the mentally disabled from having easy access to guns. It would prevent people being able to have concealed weapons in certain public spaces, places like movie theatres.

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” shout the masses. It’s true, if we banned all guns there would still be deaths, but regulating the use of guns would still be effective. Banning guns from certain areas would make mass shootings less likely, and perhaps having a better security system would have prevented the gunman from attacking UCC. I know that this is a slippery slope, any kind of regulation is. Whenever more regulation or stronger security is added, in some ways it infringes on the right to people’s privacy, just look at airport security after 9/11. However, I think that there should be better ways to intelligently manage it without interfering with people’s rights.

A law that might manage to save a small percentage of victims is still a law worth having. Such a law would not prevent normal, law-abiding citizens from having guns, but it would still reduce America’s staggering crime rate.

My heart goes out to the victims of this shooting and the many more that will inevitably follow in their place.

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