In 1999, friends Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold bought guns from pizza-shop employee Mark Manes for $ 500 – a double-barreled shotgun, a rifle, a pump action shotgun, and a TEC DC9 assault pistol. Two months later, the teens went to their school in Columbine, Colo., and used those guns to murder 12 and kill themselves.
In 2007, Seung-Hui Cho, armed with two 10-round magazines he had bought on eBay, as well as a .22 caliber pistol and a Glock 9 semi automatic hand gun, descended on Virginia Tech. He eventually killed 33, including himself, and wounded 17 others.
In 2012, Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Conn. His weapon was a semi automatic Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, an assault type firearm.
Since the Columbine tragedy in 1999, there have been at least 31 school shootings. Similar events have also occurred at shopping malls and movie theatres in recent years. After the Newtown incident, there has been much outrage at the carnage and interest in reducing the likelihood such a thing could be repeated.
There is an obvious need for additional gun control measures in America, including a ban on assault type weapons and high volume magazines. Case in point: in 2011, almost 10,000 Americans were murdered by guns, according to FBI Uniform Crime reports. In stark contrast, Britain, with some of the toughest gun control laws in the world, suffered only 58 such losses in that same time frame.
Enter the National Rifle Association. Despite so many profound and logical reasons to do so, the NRA is vehemently opposed to any bans on assault type weapons, tougher background checking measures, or restrictions on sales at gun shows. These steps are sorely needed. But let’s get one thing straight: Removing assault type weapons and high volume magazines is simply not an infringement on our Second Amendment rights, as the NRA would have you believe. Without these particular items, anyone will still be completely able to hunt and protect their home.
President Obama said it best when he recently stated, “weapons of war have no place in our communities, our schools.”
It’s time be smart about gun control and what it really means for our country. It’s time to put our children first. The situation is bad and it will only get worse if nothing meaningful is done. Consider this: The next school may be a little closer to home than Connecticut. How will you feel if it is your child, and you did nothing to prevent it?
The writer lives in Conway.