Column: A Call From Arms

The increasing importance of gun control

Zach Harris, Staff Writer

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One hundred and eighty-two deaths Double that in injuries Gun violence on school grounds has created these statistics in the last six years. Seventy-two of those deaths and 131 of the injuries occurred in the last two years. Only three major changes to firearms laws have been passed since 2018. The first banned bump stocks nationwide after the mass shooting in Las Vegas and is being challenged by multiple lawsuits. Eighteen states (not including Kansas) have adopted laws increasing the minimum purchase age for firearms from 18 to 21. The third one, a federal law, prevents those who have been deemed mentally incapable of safely owning a weapon from purchasing one.  The horrifying truth of the minimum age law is that students generally obtain weapons from their own homes, The Wall Street Journal reports.

According to The Daily Telegraph, first-grader Kayla Rolland was killed by her classmate, Dedrick Owens, in  2000. He got the gun from his own home, only to turn and use it to take her life. He was too young to be charged with murder.

In 2018, a 16-year-old male opened fire in the Italy (Texas) High School cafeteria, injuring a 15-year-old girl. He was charged with two counts of aggravated assault, CNN said. The child was tried as an adult, and his parents were given no charges, even though they were the owners of the weapon. The very next day, two died and 14 were injured in a school shooting in Marshall County (Kentucky) High School The shooter was 15 years old, and also obtained the weapon by stealing it from his parents. Should these parents be held responsible for not keeping their weapons secure?

This potential for lethal violence needs to be eradicated.”

Even as recently as Sept. 12, two students brought in firearms to Hocker Grove Middle School, right here in Shawnee. Luckily, no one was harmed, and there was no evidence of intent to harm, but the fact that guns could be brought into a local school is another reminder that our current system does not fully protect us and that we need change.

Current laws aren’t stopping anything. This potential for lethal violence needs to be eradicated. We need more than an age restriction to stop these tragedies. I’m not suggesting we remove all weapons from people’s homes, but some control seems necessary.

However, presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke has a plausible plan for increased gun control. He addressed in one speech, red flag laws, mandatory gun buybacks and national registry for all weapons. I completely agree. No reason exists for anyone to have an AR-15 or any other military-grade weapon at home for protection from a potential invader. O’Rourke’s plan includes reimbursing people to make it easier for citizens to part with these “weapons of war.” A national registry would make it easier to track those whose weapons are  used in a crime. Instead of merely identifying the suspect, the police could also run the weapons serial code to find the owner. Even finding a single round of ammunition would allow police to narrow down suspects. It seems to be a must. Red flag laws would deny anyone with a history of mental issues or aggression the right to a license to own a firearm.

I’m not backing a particular presidential candidate, but it’s time for a change. We should require those who own guns to keep them secured. We should also hold the user as well as the owner responsible for any crimes committed with their weapons. We should institute buyback and red flag laws.

The entire gun control debate always focuses on the rights of gun owners, but are others’ rights not being violated by needing to live in fear of this violence? It’s time for not only a change in these laws but also a change in the mindset used to argue this matter. No one should need to live, work, or go to school in fear of becoming another statistic to further this debate.