The Crimson White

Realistic view on guns necessary for actual progress

Mark Hammontree

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You may have missed it – I know some of my friends did – but there was another school shooting late last week. This time the shooting was at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. Nine people are dead after a student, armed with five handguns and an assault rifle, began shooting in a class building.

These kinds of mass killings grab our attention, or at least they used to – maybe we don’t even notice massacres anymore – but what most probably don’t realize is that an average of 31 people are murdered by guns every day. That’s 31 lives that end every day because of a gun.

I’ve written these columns before. In fact, I wrote two almost identical columns this year and last year in response to two other shootings. I’m going to try to not repeat myself this time.

Is it really too much to ask that we care about this?

Is it going too far to suggest that human lives are worth more than a week of debate and protest and then a full congressional session of inaction and disregard?

Why do we let people get away with baseless claims that “more guns make communities safer” when we know it is simply not true?

Texas passed a law over the summer allowing concealed carry on all college campus, despite opposition from many students, educators and administrators. And I’m sure plenty of conservative lawmakers in Montgomery, and the gun lobbyists too, would love to see a similar law passed in Alabama.

After all, guns don’t kill people; people kill people. And a murderer or a suicidal person will simply find another weapon if he or she doesn’t have a gun. And car crashes kill more people than guns, and no one is trying to ban cars. And we all know that an armed society is a safer society. And of course, there’s the Second Amendment, duh.

Except all of that is just the empty, cold rhetoric of those who surely must care more about having a completely unfettered and unregulated right to own a gun than they care about human lives.

Because we know that the “guns make us safer” arguments are completely, ridiculously baseless. The United States has more guns per person than anywhere else, and we have significantly higher rates of gun violence.

The presence of a gun obviously raises the likelihood that someone will be shot.

And I know that the majority of gun owners are responsible, law-abiding people, but can we not agree that it would be better if it were just a little bit harder to buy a gun?

Can we not acknowledge that most crimes are committed out of convenience and that without easy access to a gun a lot fewer people will shoot other people or themselves?

I’m not saying we should ban all gun sales. In fact, relatively few people are calling for that. We just have to do something. We have to acknowledge that it is far too easy to kill other people in mass numbers. We have to be honest about the problems that come with easy access to guns. We have to care about this.

Mark Hammontree is a senior majoring in secondary education – language arts. His column runs weekly.

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Realistic view on guns necessary for actual progress