Editorial: Gun Violence and the Opposition of Safety by GOP Candidates

January 12, 2016

The damage done to Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood following the shooting.

Bella Galardo

The damage done to Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood following the shooting.

In the past three months, I have been indirectly connected to three mass shooting crimes.

On December 12, a girl was arrested for planning to commit mass murder in her school. I can’t completely confirm this, but I’m pretty sure her number is in my phone. I met her at a leadership conference in the summer of 2015.

About two months ago, three people were shot in downtown Colorado Springs, right across the street from the gym I go to. One of them was on a bike when he died. I’m in a local bike club, and some of my peers said that they had met him before. We had a minute of silence at our end-of-season party only a few weeks later.

In late November, a Planned Parenthood not five miles from my school was attacked. My mother is a first responder, and she knew the emergency medical personnel that pulled the injured and murdered out of the clinic.

These connections raise questions not only to my personal safety, but the safety of every student attending my school. Even more, it could raise questions for the state of Colorado, the United States of America, and possibly the entire world. 

Does every 16-year-old girl living in a rural town just happen to be connected to multiple mass violence cases? Given the current circumstances, in which there have been 51 mass shootings in the United States since November 1, 2015, I think it’s more common than we’d like to believe.

Despite overwhelming evidence, republican presidential candidates refuse to accept that gun violence has become part of our nation’s identity, or that it needs to change. 

On January 5, 2016, President Obama announced his new executive actions to reduce gun violence. These orders included keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people by requiring firearm sellers to perform thorough background checks, hiring more agents to enforce gun laws and increasing access to mental health care. In my opinion, none of these actions sound unreasonable, especially in wake of the recent gun violence on local, national and international scales.

On November 13, Paris was attacked by ISIS in a terrorist act that murdered 130 people. On December 2, another 14 people were killed in a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. Wouldn’t it be ideal to prevent future attack like this by enforcing gun control laws? Some people seem to think not.

“He’s [Obama’s] obsessed with undermining the second amendment,” said Marco Rubio, republican presidential candidate, in an interview with CNN. “He’s obsessed with burdening the law-abiding citizens who are going to follow the law no matter what it is.” This viewpoint seems to be shared by many of the GOP candidates, as well as Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who said, “Rather than focus on criminals and terrorists, [Obama] goes after the most law-abiding citizens.”

In his executive actions, Obama never suggested anything that would hinder a law-abiding citizen to purchase a gun. If what Marco Rubio says is correct about law-abiding citizens, then I see no problem in asking them to put up with background checks, especially if they “are going to follow the law no matter what it is.” 

Furthermore, it seems pretty ripe to me that the same presidential candidates who insist all Muslims be banned from entering the USA for the sake of the “American people’s safety” have such opposing views about gun laws. More than 30,000 American citizens alone are killed by guns each year, but the GOP candidates are more interested in repealing everything the democratic party has to say about the issue, than they are in putting an end to the violence caused by it.

On January 5, Ted Cruz posted a picture of President Obama on Twitter that adorned the words, “Gun Control is Government Control.” However, in a speech at the Heritage Foundation, Cruz equated Obama’s defense of Islam with a defense of terrorism, saying, “He spent a significant portion of his Sunday address as an apologist for radical Islamic terrorism,” and “We want a president and an attorney general who is standing up to defend this nation, not an attorney general who decrees herself the speech police for any who dare speak out against this threat.”

At a rally for front-runner GOP Presidential Candidate Donald Trump, a Muslim woman named Rose Hamid was escorted out of the event for standing up in silent protest as Trump suggested Syrian refugees fleeing the war could be affiliated with ISIS. After insisting upon Hamid’s removal, Trump said, “There is hatred against us that is unbelievable. It’s their hatred, it’s not our hatred.”

These blatant displays of racism prove that several GOP candidates only actually want the best for the American people if those people are white gun-owners. Why else would they so readily declare a ban on Muslim people entering the U.S., but shoot down orders to make guns safer?

Marco Rubio recently created an ad in which he says Obama’s plan is to “Take away our guns.” This is false. Never did the president suggest he wished to confiscate any guns. There are approximately 283 million firearms in civilian hands in the United States. I would like to know how Rubio thinks that the government is planning to seize each and every one of them.

After President Obama’s gun proposal, Jeb Bush said that the new laws would take away the rights of someone selling a gun out of their collection. This is, once again, a fallacy. Obama is not focused on preventing private gun sales, but on making internet gun sales safer and providing more thorough background checks for guns being sold at stores and in gun shows.

GOP presidential candidates are intolerant of the idea of a safe society for innocent American citizens. As presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said, “It’s become clear that no mass shooting, no matter how big or bloody, will inspire Republicans to put children and innocent Americans over the interests of the NRA.”

This brings me back to my original question. Is it so rare that I, a 16-year-old girl living in a small town, am indirectly connected to three recent cases of gun violence? I don’t think that it is. Violence has become our national identity. The election of a president who refuses gun laws will only make this issue worse in more innocent peoples’ lives. 

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    Tyler JungbauerJan 15, 2016 at 11:26 pm

    Hello, I am commenting here because I read your editorial and it provoked some interesting ideas for me personally. The gun control issue is indeed one of the most difficult and controversial issues within America, and I feel that for this reason that it is more a rhetorical concept than one that can be answered simply. I lead a critical thinking group during Wednesdays in Mr. Brown’s room—it’s called “Think Tank”—and this is one of the many topcis that we have discussed. Thus, I have a few things that I would wish to say.

    None of these things are in opposition to your points, for I consider myself democratically minded when it comes to the issue of gun control—as well, I think that most of the things you discussed are vital points to be made. Therefore, these comments are merely elaborations on my part.

    Personally, I think that there are really only two possible answers to solving the gun control problem: improving the mental healthcare industry as well as providing more help for those who suffer from mental illness. (These are two very similar topics, so I suppose that they should be one.) I think that there is enough evidence and support for how much mental illness and gun control are interrelated: James Holmes (who I will get to in a moment), the Columbine shooters (Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold), Robert Lewis Deer (the Planned Parenthood shooter), and the many others who have committed school shootings, as well as others. I think that a number of these individuals are most definitely viable evidence for why we need to improve mental healthcare. For one thing, we cannot accurately and justly try any of these individuals because of their mental conditions, and it is not necessarily their own faults that their actions have led to where they have. (I suppose the Columbine shooters here do not apply as much as the others.) The problem is, we don’t know how to recognize mental illness in its early stages. We also don’t know what to do about it. For example, James Holmes was found guilty by the jury during his trials for his heinous crime. But was he really guilty? To be honest, I don’t know. But I think that there is a good deal of evidence that says he was, indeed, mentally unstable. So not only can we not know whether or not it was the jury’s bias against Holmes and their lust for justice to be done, we cannot know if he really is or is not mentally unstable. In this way, we need to improve psychiatric studies and psychological ideologies concerning the increasingly difficult aspects of the human mind.

    Furthermore, I don’t think that we have a good enough system for providing aid for those who suffer from mental illness. Mental illness is something seen from the public eye as being bad and shadowy, something that should best be kept to the undertones of conversation, lest it pollute our minds with the darker reality of human nature. But this is foolish. We think that schizophrenics and bipolars and sociopaths are bad people, perhaps born the way they are, perhaps developed over time through sociological environments. But what we don’t realize is that they are people too; that the schizophrenic is far less likely to harm someone else than he or she is to harm themselves, and that the sociopathic simply do not have the ability to comprehend emotion or house the ability to care for other people. But instead of respecting them just as we as human beings try to respect every other species of our kind—whether it be male or female, heterosexual or homosexual or bisexual, caring and kind or angry and abusive—we treat them just as we do every other kind of us that we simply don’t understand. We cannot understand the pain that the mentally ill go through unless we ourselves are mentally ill, just as we cannot experience the misunderstanding that comes with being a different sexuality within a predominantly heterosexual world. And I do not think that this applies to just the mental ill: we need to respect every one of us, because that’s the only way to understand who we are, and why we are here, and who or what (or perhaps nothing) that made us.

    (I’m sorry to be rambling on and on but I am trying my best to follow the instructions above, i.e., speak my mind.) Secondly, the problem with trying to more strictly harness the gun control laws on people who are emphatically opposed to it is that it is an amendment within the Constitution. I do realize, however, as I fear not many do, that the second amendment says nothing about rights to guns: it is instead the right to bearing arms within the presence of a militia, in order to defend the state. But such a right is obsolete by now, so we have transfigured the law to become instead something more modern: the right to own firearms. Personally, I am opposed to owning firearms in the way that it does, in far too many was, lead to such massacres as it has, but I also realize the importance of personal security. But there are also really excellent alternatives to gun laws. For example, Switzerland has a national policy that requires men between the ages of 20 and 34 to own firearms, undergo weapons training, and serve within a militia in case of an attack. This is exactly what the second amendment should be, as was its original intention. The other possibility is that which Britain has acquired. The UK is known for its radical non-allowance of guns. Some surveys say that Britain is five times as worse in crime as the US, but others say that it is not. I personally do not know, so this is the other end of the spectrum. In this way, guns can be helpful, but they can also become the ultimate impediment within a society, too.

    Conclusively, I would say that it is far more difficult to try to change the gun control laws than it is to try to make improvements elsewhere which will hopefully, eventually aid in the gun control statistics as they change. Hopefully, though, we will all come around at some point.