The weekend before finals, a murder/suicide occurred on the campus of Virginia Tech that left a campus police officer dead. Campus officials hunted for the killer while the school remained in lock-down for nearly four hours before determining the second body was that of the shooter, a student at a nearby university.
While the police have yet to discern any motive for the shooting, the campus is now trying to come to terms with the seemingly random killings and the painful memories it raised of the 2007 killings of 33. One year ago I started spring semester with a similar message, the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona. It’s an incredibly sad timeline, and not a particularly hopeful one. Many will use headlines like these as evidence to suit their arguments for the need to change gun laws.
Growing up, I considered gun control a non-issue. Not that anyone under the age of 12 truly understands such arguments, but I didn’t see the problem compared to things children can understand — telling the truth, helping other people, longer recess. At that point, guns were something cowboys and G.I. Joes used, certainly not the focus of political debate. I believed that we shouldn’t give guns to bad people, and that was it.
Over the next ten years, my opinion has changed. I haven’t ‘learned’ so much as witnessed the need for strengthened gun control. I’ve read too many headlines that report the slayings of innocent people: children killing themselves by misfires of their parents’ gun, hunters killed in shooting accidents, students killed in slayings like those of Virginia Tech and Columbine. Maybe it’s simply the way I’ve come to regard firearms. I have friends who are hunters, and I’ve been target shooting myself and enjoyed it, but I still don’t see this as a reason for the plethora of weapons bought and sold in this country. My parents, both former military, grounded their perspective in one thing: guns are built to kill. They have no other purpose and should be treated as such. It has been famously said that “guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” While it may be true that the trigger needs a finger, there is no other purpose for that weapon than to kill.
The fact that people will use events like the recent shooting at Virginia Tech to spur loosening of gun control laws is infuriating. The argument that increasing the amount of people who are carrying guns at any time has no positive outcome. Perceived threat of retaliation will not stop those who would have originally carried out these shootings, it will only make it easier for them to purchase and carry weapons.
That some states have suggested legislation to overturn campus gun bans, and beyond that, passed it, is astonishing. Recently, Oregon, Wisconsin and even Virginia have joined the growing group of states that will allow campus conceal-and-carry laws. Americans already see enough violence with our cavalier attitude towards guns, but continuing this trend will only lead to more bloodshed. We cling fiercely to our second amendment rights, but I see the intentions of that right as an outdated attempt at personal safety at a time where our fledgling country was in real threat of being occupied. It should not be interpreted as allowing people to carry guns as they please, without heavy regulation.
A class of 2013 psychology major with chemistry and biology minors, Patrick joined the Concordian as a contributing writer for Arts & Entertainment before writing and editing for the Opinions section.