Why Gun Control is not the Answer

by Chris Buechel

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A couple of weeks ago, Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) was interviewed on CNN regarding the new push to limit gun rights. However, he did not mince words when asked whether more gun control would be an adequate response to the tragic death of seventeen students at a Parkland, Florida high school. The Senator stated, “I don’t think we need more gun control laws", and followed up with the idea that “our country needs more idiot control”. I happen to completely agree with his argument.

Since the shooting, interest groups such as the NRA have been the target of widespread criticism due to their advocacy on behalf of gun owners. The Second Amendment of the Constitution is also under siege from members of the left who say it is “antiquated” and “out of date”. It is important to note that the majority of NRA members as well as gun owners across this country are not committing crimes nor seeking out ways to break our laws. They follow the rules and regulations that have been enacted in their states or localities. The shooter in Parkland, Florida was not a member of the NRA, and the same can be said for every other major mass shooting in recent memory. Therefore, inhibiting the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens is not the answer to the recurring problem of gun violence in this country.

The way to solve the problem is to target the perpetrators behind school shootings and other gun crimes. There is widespread proof that our current approach to creating obstacles for aspiring or established criminals to obtain firearms has not worked. For example, the city of Chicago arguably has some of the most stringent gun laws in the country. The county in which it resides (Cook County, Illinois) has actually had an assault weapons ban in place since 2006. Despite this, Chicago has one of the highest murder and crime rates among cities in the United States. It is misguided to say that depriving people of the fundamental right to keep and bear arms will make this rampant problem go away. It would most likely become even worse.

It is clear that there needs to be a new approach toward targeting violent criminals. They are not fearful of a United States Senator or Representative proposing legislation to prevent them from obtaining weapons of any kind. They are people that will find a way to obtain weapons even after a hypothetical repeal of the Second Amendment. Because of this, the focus should be placed on how we can better utilize our law enforcement agencies and mental health services. These groups have shown an alarming incompetence that has hindered our ability to utilize laws as well as other preventative measures. For example, in the Parkland shooting, the suspect according to National Review, "was on everybody's radar, from the school authorities to the local police to the FBI, which failed to follow its own protocols when a person close to the future killer called to warn the bureau that he was contemplating a school massacre”.

The failure of law enforcement and others to act upon leads is a problem. They should be willing to intervene in a situation when the information needed has been obtained and verified multiple times. Early intervention will then enable mental health professionals to intervene and potentially identify what is driving an individual to commit such an act. 

There is also the element of schools themselves considering all options to ensure the safety and security of their students. The majority are currently soft targets that are easy for criminals to penetrate and cause harm. People must realize that safety can only exist with the proper security measures to back it up.

In the United States Senate, a part of the solution to the issue at hand has already been proposed. This is referencing the bill authored by Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) which would have allocated $300 million dollars to school safety measures. It also made it tougher for convicted felons to purchase guns. The bill actually had support from fifty-two Senators, which would be enough to pass the legislation. However, it was filibustered by Democrats, who evidently did not see the viability of the bill. This proposal perhaps would have made a difference in the Parkland shooting and others that may be in our future.

Something important to consider is that the United States has less mass shootings per capita compared to many other developed nations. This includes Norway, France and Belgium, among others. Additionally, a vast majority of mass shootings that occur in the United States are within the confines of “gun free zones”. This is why I hope we can have a discussion on how to proceed that is not devoid of logic or reason and solely driven by politicization. There are examples of what happens when strict gun laws are implemented and the results are not promising. They have often made the problem worse instead of better. The United States already has the requisite laws to prevent the majority of shootings, but we have not taken the steps required to make this a reality.  Senator Kennedy himself stated that "the NICS database has holes big enough to drive a Mack truck through".

NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) is an essential resource. The way to start tackling the problem is fixing the obvious deficiencies within the system and utilizing it to identify potential problems before they arise. A functional and complete NICS database combined with other measures should get the job done. It is essential to remember that a criminal will not be deterred by a single regulation or comprehensive law that infringes upon the rights of United States citizens. Finally, it is not fair to blame the NRA, Republicans, or the President for the most recent school shooting in Florida. These are parties who are unquestionably not complicit in the failure to identify the shooter as a threat and take action on troubling indicators. It is fair to say that gun control is not the answer to our problem with firearm-related crime.