Gun violence: The disease we refuse to cure

Gun violence: The disease we refuse to cure

Melanie Lust

By Andrew Vester, Staples High School

Gunman massacres 20 children at school in Connecticut;” “Gunman kills 12 in Colorado Movie Theater;” “14 dead in California in mass shooting.” These headlines have appeared far too often in our newspapers and on our televisions, and we’ve unfortunately grown far too accustomed to hearing about the tragic killing of innocent friends and family at businesses, colleges and elementary schools.

The use of guns in these abominable murders is often ignored, with many saying that military-grade weapons—designed with the sole purpose of killing humans—are not the problem. Many of our fellow citizens insist that, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” but this argument is misleading, because many violent crimes would be harder to commit or could be prevented entirely if the people who had guns could not obtain them in the first place. It’s for this reason that a ban on all assault-style weapons and an end to the “gun show loophole,” which allows for unmarked and fluid transactions of guns, needs to be implemented in our nation.

As residents of Westport, all of us are familiar with the heinous crimes of the Newtown massacre. The assault weapons used to take 20 children and six staff members lives were legally obtained by the shooter’s mother. We all know there is no reason for anyone in Connecticut to own a war-waging weapon. Newtown is one of the safest cities in the state, and it’s impossible to even think of a reason why someone would need a weapon designed to kill if that’s not their intention.

This process is akin to the old days of the Wild West whereby unnecessary and entirely preventable violence will continue to ruin the lives of thousands of victims of shootings, and to continue to allow guns to be bought and sold this easily is a gross slap-in-the-face to people who are the victims of gun violence.”

After Sep. 11, our society was prepared to take all actions to ensure that such a tragic event never happen again within our borders, so what makes these gun murders any different?

Following instances of terrible gun violence, steps are often taken to treat the symptoms rather than the root cause. Take Staples, for example. During the summer of 2014, the glass on the ground floors was reinforced, and automatically locking door handles were installed on all the doors. These security measures will aid in slowing the progress of a shooter should that day ever happen, but they won’t help to prevent one. Just as a good doctor treats the issue from which all major problems stem, we need to attack guns at their root instead of helping to reduce the severity of the problems which result from them. The cure for the disease of gun violence is comprehensive legislation which bars assault weapons and closes the gun show loophole.

Many people buy their weapons at gun shows as these are one of the most facile and utilized ways to obtain weapons. At gun shows, no background check is required; buyers do not need to give their full names. Guns are paid for in cash, and oftentimes there is no receipt of the transaction. Anyone in attendance could buy a weapon, even one as deadly as a military-grade assault rifle. This process is akin to the old days of the Wild West whereby unnecessary and entirely preventable violence will continue to ruin the lives of thousands of victims of shootings, and to continue to allow guns to be bought and sold this easily is a gross slap-in-the-face to people who are the victims of gun violence.

Assault weapons were designed for soldiers to fight wars, not for private citizens to own. And worse, we allow people to buy and sell these death machines in Connecticut with little supervision, limits or regulation. The argument is correct—people do kill people—but let us take this opportunity to stop making it so easy for them to do so.