What Can We Do About Mass Shootings in the U.S?


Nathan Currier, Staff Writer

Thursday, October 1st, at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, a tragedy occurred when a student killed 10 of his classmates before taking his own life. You probably already know about this, seeing that the media slathered it on all of their broadcasts and gave a huge amount of press coverage to the event. It’s almost sickening, how they have to be first on site and be the person that covers it all.

I’m not here to really discuss what happened specifically, but to ask us as a society why we should care about things like this and what we can do to stop them from occurring. You’ve probably heard politicians give their opinions of how to stop this, but in reality they are just dodging questions. They would turn a question on gun control into something different because they don’t want to risk their political position. So I’ll give it to you in simplest terms.

This problem stems from these causes…

A.) Lack of mental health care in the U.S

B.) Gun control problems

C.) Problems with enforcement and awareness

D.) Lack of security in schools
As for the first issue, John Oliver’s show “Last Week Tonight” puts it bluntly. There’s stigmas attached to mental illness in America. A man that’s mentally sane doesn’t wake up one day, buy a gun and decide, “Hmm… I think I’m going to shoot up a school today.” That doesn’t happen. It always comes from a progression over time of an untreated illness, a poor home environment, or a lack of care that leads them the decision of I don’t want to live anymore, might as well take out as many people as possible. The people who do these things don’t often expect to live afterwards. They go in there knowing they’ll either die in a gunfight with police, or that they’ll take their own life. The U.S. needs a better system for people who are mentally or emotionally disturbed to be able to seek out the help they need.

Most people and politicians don’t want to take this to a gun control problem, but I will. Obviously the right to bear arms in the Constitution is clearly displayed and defined. There’s no way around it, but there needs to be some major changes.

Responsible gun owners understand that background checks are necessary for people’s safety. There needs to be some regulating process happening, and it needs to be properly introduced. Agencies and legislature need to be put in place to properly investigate gun buyers to make sure they don’t have a history of any offenses or a severe mental illness that can impair their rational judgement and lead to a situation that may cause harm to others.

This would be how someone like myself would set up the checks…

  1. Make sure all licenses are in order before purchasing
  2. Approval from a federal agency that mental status is fit
  3. Check to see if any discrepancies in their history with the law
  4. Have a waiting time of 2-3 weeks before everything checks and clears out

Then after this you should be able to purchase a firearm. The problem with most states that regulate the buying and selling of weapons is they are either too lenient, or too harsh and regulations aren’t enforced the way they should be. If someone is in possession or thought to have an illegal firearm in their house, a warrant should be obtained through a court with viable and substantial evidence so the police can confiscate it.

Clearly I’m no legislator or anything, and this system has a potential for severe abuse, but it’s really just an idea to throw around. The enforcement of these is the most essential piece, and without the enforcement, it’s just a piece of paper in “fine print.” 

If you talk with any responsible gun owner, they’ll say the same thing about how they treat their weapons. They keep them locked up in a safe. They follow all the laws in place, no matter how ineffective or irrational they are. These are the kind of people that should be allowed to possess firearms.

As for the argument of people obtaining weapons illegally, there’s not much of any legislation or law that can do anything about that. It is up to law enforcement itself to step up their game in hunting out the “black market” deals. Gang violence and other things in the U.S are caused by situations like this, but most mass shootings happen with legally purchased firearms.  If the shooter didn’t legally purchase them, someone who is an irresponsible owner allowed them to gain access to the firearms because the system failed to let them be able to obtain one.

The last part of these checks is awareness. A societal change is something that needs to happen, A change where the idea of a firearm shouldn’t be scary. It should be something to respect, and something to care for, not something to be abused. Gun safety should be taught in school, considering that it’s a big part of our society. I’m not saying a teacher with a gun should do it, but maybe a volunteer police officer comes in once a year to demonstrate proper safety and usage. 

And finally, security in schools. School security is a major part in safety from external and internal threats. At Weedsport, we have no school SRO, (School Resource Officer) to protect us. I think an SRO could be helpful. Certainly it would be an expense but I’d rather have safety and security knowing that someone who’s trained and is a professional will put his life on the line for us. I’d rather have that over a pool…Just sayin’.