In the wake of the Las Vegas massacre that took place on October 1st, 2017, 58 people were left dead and 500 were left injured. Families were broken and distraught, left to mourn the loss of their loved ones and try to put their lives back together. Our nation, once again, was left struggling with questions on why this happened. This brings our gun control laws into question, once again.
In Connecticut, we have been ranked by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, as having the second strongest gun laws in the nation, for the last three years. Connecticut gun laws consist of:
a background check prior to the transfer of a handgun or a long gun between individuals other than licensed firearms dealers
conducting its own background checks, rather than relying on the FBI
Requires the reporting of all individuals prohibited from possessing firearms to the database used for firearm purchaser background checks
Requires firearm owners to report the loss or theft of their firearms
Allows local governments to regulate firearms and ammunition
Allows local governments discretion to deny a concealed weapons permit.
However, Connecticut does not
Always require guns to be stored safely
Limit the number of firearms that may be purchased at one time
Impose design safety standards or microstamping requirements on handguns.
For more about Connecticut gun laws, refer to SmartGunLaws.org for more information.
`Although Connecticut may have a strong stance on gun laws, nationwide gun laws are still struggling in their efficiency. According to NBC News, “eighty-two percent of weapons involved in mass shootings over the last three decades have been bought legally.” For example, MSNBC reports, “Authorities say Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 27 — the shooters who killed 14 people and injured 21 others this week in San Bernardino — had two legally purchased .223 caliber assault-style rifles and two 9 mm semi-automatic handguns.”
Why is an average citizen is allowed to purchase an assault rifle of this degree? As American citizens we have the Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms, however, there is no need for an average American citizen to possess a military grade semi-automatic firearm. Cornell Law School notes that “In the 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court held that the ‘Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.’” With this in mind, I return back to my previous question of why an average citizen is allowed to purchase an assault rifle of this degree? A small handgun to protect yourself and your loved ones from an intruder in your home, is one thing, but it is an entirely different thing to have a weapon that is intended to take our armies of people. It is perfectly acceptable for people to legally bear firearms, however, I think it is imperative that the government improve their restrictions on the laws that provide people the right to own these firearms because clearly there are some issues. In the 2016 night club massacre in Orlando, that killed 49 people and injured 58 others. The Daily Beast reports that Shooter Omar Mateen, purchased a .223 caliber assault rifle at a firearm shop on June 4 and then a Glock 17 at the same store on June 5. Mateen had returned to the store a third time on June 9 to buy magazines for his weapons. The Daily Beast also reports that in the U.S, it is required that sellers have to notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation of Mateen's purchase so that his name could be checked against the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. And although Mateen was previously on two federal watchlists, he was removed in 2014 from the FBI watch list so his firearm purchase was approved. Although he seemed to no longer be a risk, seeing as though he was removed from the list, it should’ve raised some flags in the eyes of the seller, and the federal officials, that he was buying a mass amount of weaponry and ammunition. This seems to be a common theme in most mass shootings, the shooter is approved for firearm purchase but the details of what they are buying, is not thoroughly investigated or monitored.
For example, I think there should be a more thorough investigation of people’s mental health, before they are permitted a license to carry a gun, due to the fact that many mass shootings are the result of an unstable person who is unmedicated. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health informs us that “Torrey, a psychiatrist, claimed that ‘about half of . . . mass killings are being done by people with severe mental illness, mostly schizophrenia, and if they were being treated they would have been preventable.’ Similar themes appear in legal dialogues as well. Even the US Supreme Court, in 2008 strongly affirmed a broad right to bear arms, endorsed prohibitions on gun ownership ‘by felons and the mentally ill’ because of their special potential for violence.”
When students were asked their opinions on nationwide and statewide gun laws, many were unaware of what the gun laws even were. However, when asked their opinions on the recent massacre in Las Vegas, one student stated that she believes there should be stricter restrictions on all gun laws. On the contrary, when administrators were asked their opinions on gun laws, there was no shortage of opinion. When asked “what are your opinions on gun control laws both nationwide and statewide?”, one administrator responded “there has to be stricter mental health screenings for people who want to own guns. If they want to own a gun, they need to able to prove they are mentally capable of handling one, this goes for both nationwide and statewide gun laws.” Another, administrator said that “gun control laws tend to target the wrong people and in many cases, they are a knee jerk reaction to relatively isolated events. I think the real focus should be on mental health awareness treatment since that seems to be the common theme behind a lot of those mass shootings, which are impetus to gun control laws”.
So it seems like the common concern regarding gun control laws, is not the guns themselves, but the hands in which these guns lie.