Recent tragedies push gun control back into the political spotlight
Three shootings on college campuses in the United States within a 10 day time span have brought gun control to the forefront of political debate. On October 1, a gunman killed nine and wounded nine people at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon before killing himself. A little over a week later, there were two separate shootings on October 9; the first at Northern Arizona University and the second at Texas Southern University, left a combined two dead and three wounded.
The advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety reported that there have been 47 shootings on college campuses so far in 2015, and 26 of those shootings resulted in either death or injury.
According to the Washington Post, President Obama is considering using his executive authority to enact new background-check requirements for gun buyers. If the president does decide to take action to limit gun control, it would be the second time in his presidency he has done so. The first instance came after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012.
Democrats in the Senate are working on gun reform legislation that is very similar to the failed Manchin-Toomey bill, which was drafted after Sandy Hook. This time, the proposal is backed by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). If approved, it would close background check loopholes, expand the background check database, and attempt to restrict the illegal purchasing of firearms.
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) October 11, 2015
Any action taken by either the president or Congress will likely face heavy criticism. The majority of the Republican Party ardently supports the freedom to bear arms. The National Rifle Association opposes any gun restrictions and has a significant amount of lobbying power within the capital.
Many of the 2016 presidential candidates from both parties have used this as an opportunity to voice their opinions on gun control. Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson made perhaps the most controversial comments of all candidates. Carson told CNN: “The likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed.” There was no malicious intent behind Carson’s statement, but it encapsulates just how far apart Democrats and Republicans are on the issue.
For better or worse, fire arms and the right for Americans to arm and protect themselves are a significant part of American culture. However, reforms on who can purchase firearms and the types of firearms that are sold to civilians are needed. Background checks and the databases which support them should be updated to reflect the most up to date and accurate information possible. Weapons, such as assault rifles, which go above and beyond the needs of self-defense and recreation should be severely restricted.
Will Congress be able to pass gun control reform? What is the most effective way for law enforcement to crack down on those who obtain firearms illegally? Feel free to leave a comment or find me on Twitter @Andrew_Morse4