Should America Change Our Firearm Laws After the Columbine Shooting?
- Written by Zachary Mutnik
On April 20, 1999, two high school students massacred a dozen of their classmates and injured countless others. They used sawed off shotguns, an automatic 9mm, and various other firearms to murder their peers. These boys (Eric Harris, and Dylan Klebold) bought illegal firearms and made explosives in one of the boys' basements to use that day.
Since then, gun laws have not gotten more strict, but some say it has actually been easier to buy and carry firearms in America. America is split into two groups, those opposed to guns and those who are pro-firearm. Should we, as a country, tighten the laws regarding firearms due to a school shooting at Columbine?
CNN released a poll showing that eight years ago, 39 percent of Americans supported stricter gun laws as opposed to the growing 54 percent today. Although there are much more supporters for more restricted laws for guns today than almost a decade ago, but with almost nothing done about it, talk is very cheap and prevalent in America. There are 9 guns for every 10 people in the US, whether illegally or legally owned. Citizens are progressively getting more aggravated with how easy it is for a child to obtain a firearm. According to Katherine Newman, the author of rampage, which is a book about school shootings in America"85 percent of school shooters obtained their firearm(s) by themselves, through their relatives, friends, or from their own home" (Newman 260). US citizens own 32 percent of all known firearms globally, and the numbers don't seem to be lowering any time soon. Since the Columbine massacre, there have been 67 school shootings in the US alone, and that does not include the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting. These numbers are astounding regardless of your position on the subject.
But the right to bear arms is in the Constitution, and was created by our founding fathers. Some say it's our right to purchase and bear arms because that is what America is all about. But are we simply being ignorant to these school shooting's because our country is "all about freedom" and the right to bear arms? Or maybe there aren't many problems with the laws, and the shootings are simply personal issues. Either way, citizens are outraged about the ease with which people obtain firearms.
There has been much talk about the government's involvement with school shootings, and the safety of the people in schools "The national concern for school safety and school security led Congress to pass two key pieces of school violence prevention legislation in 1994: (GFSA)" (Kopka 6). This did not do much for the prevention of school shootings. In 1998, just one year before Columbine, two kids ages 11 and 13, murdered 15 of their peers at school with the firearms they found in one of the boys grandparent's homes. The guns were on the walls for show and secured only by a wire that the boys cut with a garden sheer.
People argue that it's not just the laws to buy guns that are corrupt, but the laws which govern where one can store them and safely secure them. In some states, a permit to own a gun is non-existent. It would be extremely hard to keep track of firearms by the government, not to mention the owners themselves in these states. However, the problem might not be the laws to buy guns, but how they are stored. In Florida, it is legal to have a firearm in ones car for "protection". If one leaves their car door open, and someone goes in the car the gun is readily available and can be stolen without any work required.
Eric and Dylan lived in a very rural area up north, and could practice shooting their guns in the wilderness with nobody to distract or deter them from doing so. "Two-thirds of school shootings occur in rural areas" (Newman 260). The laws regarding firearms in such states are much less restricted than more urban areas. More and more school shootings are occurring without any sense of "blink" by the US government. Schools all around the US are striving for new security details to prevent or deter these shootings "After Virginia Tech shooting...California law AB 211, the Classroom Safety Locks bill, requires all newly constructed schools to have inside-classroom door locks." (McLester 1) Although one may see new policies and laws popping up everywhere, it's hard to find any information on more restricted firearms laws in regards to the past decade.
Before one is given the privilege of owning a firearm, there should be a more thorough background check on said individual. With hundreds, even thousands of marks on a person's criminal record still can't stop them from buying a legal gun unless an offense was a felony. Even if this individual does not use the weapon in a violent manor, the chances of them selling that gun illegally rather than one with a clean record increases dramatically. That same person can claim their firearm "stolen" or "lost" but can go right back into the local General Store and buy a new one. In addition to a more thorough background check, I propose tighter laws concerning the containment of firearms. In Florida, one can get a simple concealed weapons permit and walk around town with their firearm hanging out to the side. Is it just me, or does that seem a bit preposterous? Not every state has these same absurd firearm laws, but it sure seems over the top. Other than within the use of law enforcement, every firearm in the nation should be either in use, or in a safe. There should be no point in time where a firearm is simply laying around. Of course, law enforcement does not have the time or recourses to do daily checks on each individual weapon, but an annual visit by the local police to ensure proper firearm safety is in order. These simple steps toward a safer country should reduce school shootings and shootings in general greatly.
The Columbine massacre shook up a lot of people and made them rethink on laws concerning firearms. Citizens are outraged, and they want laws changed. There is a lot of information supporting protests against firearms, but is it the government's or the individual's fault? People of America with the more liberal view on gun laws think it's the individual, but in order to restrain these few, there needs to be massive changes within these issues. It's time the US wakes up and realizes that for the greater good and prosperity of our nation, we need tighter laws concerning firearm purchase and containment. These laws will not adversely affect those gun supporters who abide by the laws and NRA regulations. It is not the mass that concerns our nation, but the few that take advantage of loopholes created centuries ago and are virtually untouched. Gun laws should be changed after the Columbine shooting, and with these changes comes fewer school shootings in addition to illegal shootings in general.