By Matt Jackson
The United States has reached a point of no return in the debate over gun control. Mon. Sept. 16 saw thirteen innocent Americans fall victim to yet another mass shooting. The most startling part of this tragedy was not the loss of American lives, but the sense that such a headline is no longer shocking.
In the past nine months alone, over 20 mass shootings have occurred in the U.S., beginning what seems to be a nationwide epidemic of homegrown terrorism. And nearly every time, it has sparked talks of gun control. However, this debate is one that still divides the country. Gun control has moved from being a plan for saving lives, to a mere political agenda.
I was struck by the words of President Obama following the tragedy in Washington, D.C. “So we are confronting yet another mass shooting, and today it happened on a military installation in our nation’s capital.” he said. “They know the dangers of serving abroad, but today they faced an unimaginable violence that we wouldn’t have expected here at home.” he added.
What struck me the most was that the President hinted the U.S. has reached a point of war at home against gun violence. That viewpoint is one I find unarguable. While neither the Republican nor Democratic Party has put forth a reasonable plan for gun control, the need to act has never been more urgent.
At the center of any gun control argument is background checks. While the U.S. government should not have the ability to investigate every gun owning citizen’s mentality semiannually, they should be granted access to all gun owning Americans’ criminal records.
The radical idea that any American should be able to purchase a gun without first having a background check is behind our time. Citizens who possess a violent criminal record have no place in the world of gun-owning Americans. The fact that the Washington shooter, Aaron Alexis, was arrested in Sept. 2010 for discharging a firearm within city limits further proves the weakness of the background check system. While reform is an absolute necessity, radical reform has no chance for success in the United States. In order for the U.S. to restore national security while preserving the right to bear arms, background checks must improve in quality, without overreaching in capacity.
Today, the need for certain regulations has never been greater. Preserving the great American society must be done through maintaining the right to bear arms, while restricting the people who are allowed to own them. America indeed is changing, but in order to insure that change be for the better, reform must no longer be a discussion but an action.
America must both preserve the context by which it was formed and adapt to the modern day. The prominence of violence in various aspects of our society’s culture changes the landscape of how modern gun laws must be approached. The society we live in today is a far cry from that of nearly three hundred years ago, and therefore changes in gun-ownership rights are unavoidable.