Guns: Controlling the Problem
It seems like the issue of gun control has been at the forefront of news recently and with good reason. Shootings are occurring on what almost seems like a daily basis. People are desperate for a solution, but they seem split on the process for implementing one. Should gun control be restricted further, or should the laws be more relaxed?
It is hard to argue that this is not a problem. Less than a year ago Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing 26 people and himself. A month ago, Aaron Alexis entered the Washington Navy Yard and opened fire, killing 13 people in total. Less than two weeks ago, a 12-year-old boy brought a gun to school, killing a teacher and injuring two fellow students. Just one day later, sheriff’s deputies shot and killed a 13-year-old boy carrying a replica of an assault rifle, assuming it was real. These are just a few examples of the growing list of gun-related crimes.
The issue seems to be of how we identify ourselves as a country. We place so much emphasis on the idea of freedom. You choose what you do with your life; you make the calls. This is an extremely liberating notion of each person being free from the subjugation of others. However, society is a complex beast. How one person acts can directly affect somebody else. As such, freedom for everyone might very well be unattainable. If one person’s idea of freedom is being able to walk into a school and start shooting, that’s going to negatively influence the freedoms of the victims. Due to the conflicting natures, not all freedoms can coexist. In order to effectively operate as a society while still valuing freedom, we must limit the freedoms of someone. The problem is determining the identity of this person. We can’t read minds, therefore limiting gun freedom might be a necessary step in reducing their misuse.
This is by no means a complete solution. The law is not all encompassing; tighter restrictions will not entirely eliminate gun problems. If a person is determined to get a firearm, they will find a way. Limitations on gun control could take the weapons out of the hands of people who would just use them for self-defense. In a sense, new laws would make the potential victims of gun-related crimes absolutely defenseless.
It is important to note that gun control is not the sole problem in this matter. Many of the mass shooters appeared to have mental health problems. Navy Yard shooter Alexis had been treated for paranoia, hearing voices, and sleeplessness before the incident. Perhaps our country needs to focus on the legitimacy of mental health problems and their treatment. Another factor might be a lack of education about gun control. Many household firearm incidents, especially among children, involve a lack of knowledge about their proper handling. Focusing on aspects like mental healthcare and proper education might go a long way to reducing the gun problem.
In our society, guns can never be truly controlled just like freedom can never be truly controlled. We can’t tell with complete certainty what effects particular laws will have. The best solution might be to determine which option has the least negative consequences—the one that causes the least amount of sadness. In the end, I am drawn back to an idea posed by the English philosopher John Locke. Basically, he says that the government should not interfere with anyone’s pursuit of happiness as long as it doesn’t interfere with another’s right to pursue happiness. I believe the victims of these crimes feel their pursuits are hindered, so we must ask one final question: what now?
This is definitely a hot-button issue in our country. How do you feel about the subject? Will limiting gun control reduce the problem, or will it make the matter worse? Are there any other solutions that might work? Are there other factors that need to be considered? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.