Gun Control Debate: Stalling Prevention of the Next Mass Shooting?

After the eighteenth school shooting in the U.S. since 2018 began (and one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history), it seems preposterous that there is even any question that we need to take a look at tighter gun control regulations. The debate polarizes, then stalls, though, at the black-and-white interpretation of “gun control” as “taking away all of our guns.”

The Trump Presidency marks a new era for gun rights supporters. Protecting second-amendment rights, as interpreted by current gun enthusiasts, seems to take precedence over establishing protections for would-be victims, in the form of tighter gun control laws. Yet, in the past five months of Trump’s presidency, three of the deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history have occurred.

After each of the past three mass shootings, Paul Ryan has responded with some variation of “This is not the time to jump to some conclusion, not knowing the full facts.”

Paul Ryan: No ‘Knee Jerk’ Reactions On Guns. Ever. | All In | MSNBC [2018-02-15]

In its seeming avoidance of addressing gun control, Congress wants to cite anything and everything but lack of gun control as the cause of these deadly shootings. “It’s a mental health issue” tends to come to the top of the list.

Earlier, however, on what was perhaps Opposite Day at the White House, Congress demonstrated that it didn’t view mental illness as a culprit in gun violence. In the first month of Trump’s presidency, Congress repealed Obama-era gun control legislation passed after the Sandy Hook massacre, during which 20 first-graders were among those murdered by a mentally disturbed man.  The legislation would have made it harder for people with certain mental illnesses to purchase firearms.

“Now, the only thing Congress has done (about) guns since Sandy Hook, is make it easier for mentally ill people to get guns,” said Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

Congress Allows Mentally Ill To Buy Guns, Rolls Back Obama-Era Regulations | TODAY [2018-02-16]

We should note that those who see gun ownership as a fundamental right often are referring to ownership of more than just a revolver, a shotgun , or a bolt-action rifle. They defend the right to own semi-automatic weapons, such as the AR-15, the weapon used most often in mass shootings. Often citing “home protection,” they appear to want guns that do so much more than protect from intruders or assailants; they want guns with the ability to blow human bone to bits, obliterate multiple intruders at once, and perhaps even provide protection in case of a zombie apocalypse.

So, despite arguing for the right to own weapons such as the AR-15, which was designed solely for the purpose of killing human beings, staunch gun enthusiasts are also quick to point out that it’s not the guns that are killing people. In addition to mental health issues, they often cite poor parenting, the need for gun education, the lack of safety measures (such as metal detectors and armed guards) in schools, and the abundance of violent TV shows and video games – but not the availability of guns – as the culprits for gun violence.

Clearly, many possible factors contribute to the rate of gun violence and mass shootings in the United States. Tighter gun control is but one factor, albeit an important one. But as we debate how to best address these other factors, somewhere, someone in the U.S. is perhaps taking out his semi-automatic firearms and contemplating the next mass shooting. And we’re stalling the prevention of that mass shooting as we avoid addressing the gun control issue head-on.

President Donald Trump Talks Mental Health But Not Guns In Wake Of Florida Shooting | TODAY [2018-02-18]



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