Editorial: safety requires gun control and mental health

On Dec. 14, 2012, Adam Lanza, 20, walked onto campus at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and fatally shot 20 students between the ages of six and seven, along with six adults. He then committed suicide by shooting himself in the head when police officers arrived. The massacre was the second-deadliest school shooting in United States history.

Since then the U.S. has been in an uproar about gun control and policies involving firearms. Here The Olympian evaluates suggestions to prevent more shootings.

No guns for teachers

There are numerous reports from various states that local lawmakers want to give teachers the right to bring guns to schools. Proponents suggest that school shootings could be prevented if school staff was armed.

But we at The Olympian think that teachers and school staff should not be able to have guns on school campuses. There would be too much risk involved. A teacher’s gun could easily fall into the hands of student. Not all students may be comfortable learning in the presence of a lethal weapon. Parents may agree with their children being in the presence of a gun. School districts would take a hit economically. It would cost the school districts more money that they don’t have to make sure teachers qualified to own a gun and to get concealed weapon permits. There is also the chance that a teacher could have a mental break and do harm to students. These days, teachers are responsible for much more than just teaching. They are expected to also be mentors, counselors and guardians. It is too much to ask them to be police officers as well.

Blame video games?

National Rifle Association (NRA) lobbyist Wayne LaPierre called for armed police officers posted in every American school to prevent incidents another Sandy Hook massacre from happening. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre stated. He then went on to blame video games and movies for exposing children to a violent culture.

We at The Olympian think that violent video games and movies do not cause these mass killings and that trying to solve the problem with more guns isn’t going to work. Giving every other person a gun is like taking an eye for an eye and eventually it will lead to more violence.

Ban assault weapons

California’s Senator Dianne Feinstein has proposed a renewal of the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004, with improvements to make the law more effective. President Obama supports the bill and also plans to back a law to require background checks for all gun sales, including those at gun shows.

We at The Olympian support background checks for all gun sales and the effort to ban assault weapons. In effect, assault weapons are only useful for killing other human beings, hence the word “assault.”

Mental health needs attention

Because Lanza was mentally ill, since the shooting there have been suggestions of increasing mental health programs in an effort to prevent future shootings.
We at The Olympian think that we cannot cure all mental illnesses. We may be able to screen those with mental ailments, but this method to ensure the safety of the public may be less effective than we think. A person may be healthy one day, and mentally unstable the next. No one is able predict when the next mentally insane person is going to go on a rampage. But we could and should take more steps to help those afflicted and to and prevent as many shootings as possible.

The Second Amendment explained

The Second Amendment has come under scrutiny in relation to gun rights. It states: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” It is debated how far this protects Americans’ rights to own guns.

We at The Olympian think that the Second Amendment was written by the founding fathers to allow the newly independent people to defend the United States from attack by Great Britain. It does not protect the right for people to use weapons of mass destruction like assault rifles. The Second Amendment was made in a time where it took five minutes to reload a gun. It’s 2013, and it takes two seconds to reload a gun and kill someone. The Second Amendment was written when assault weapons weren’t even imaginable. In short, the Constitution permits Americans to ban these weapons. This would protect the public without unduly restricting gun owners’ rights.

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