Aiming For Reform With Guns Blazing

By Kara Kupferberg

The tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary school that occurred on Dec. 14, 2012, reignited the national gun control debate. There have been seven mass shootings this year, but none affected the public consciousness and the political scene as much as this one. The public was shocked to see one of our country’s most innocent institutions affected by gun violence.

Following the tragic event, many voices emerged and proposed ways to prevent such a tragedy in the future, emphazing the idea of better security in schools. Wayne LaPierre, vice president of the National Rifle Association, told The New York Times, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” There were also calls for more security guards and screening systems. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) even proposed that faculty members, such as principals, carry guns.

However, statistics strongly refute these assertions. According to David Hemenway, Director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, “If you live in a civilized society, more guns equal more death.” The presence of a gun always increases the probability of an unnecessary injury or death, even if the gun is only possessed for precautionary measures.

There is no surefire way to prevent another incident like Sandy Hook that is within the power of the schools. However, schools have responded by reviewing safety practices; for instance, South has begun locking the front doors during school hours. While precautionary safety practices are always helpful, we must realize that even the most comprehensive safety measures, such as Sandy Hook’s state of the art security system, cannot stop the power of those armed with dangerous weapons.

Neither armed guards nor other, less radical security measures, are the solution.

This issue must be resolved at a societal level. The only way to reduce gun violence is to keep guns out of the wrong hands. This must be done through stricter gun control. There must be regulation of the type of guns available on the market and the availability of guns to certain populations, such as the mentally ill.

Our government regulates countless products and industries. For example, even though everyone has the right to drive, the government requires drivers’ education classes, a licensing process, and a road test.

Similarly, if car manufacturers must equip cars with safety features such as air bags and seat belts, why aren’t gun manufacturers required to limit capacities and require micro-stamping technology? All of these features could prevent accidental shootings, limit mass murder capabilities, and ensure the identification of criminal shooters.

So why is our society so scared to take action and protect the lives of the innocent? While it is easy to simply shift responsibility onto the schools, the real issue is much broader and must be fixed by the government with powerful legislation, not by risky, experimental practices in our nation’s schools.