Columbine. Virginia Tech. Northern Illinois University. These kinds of tragedies seem to be the legacy our generation will be leaving behind. Watching the news this past week, my heart went out to the NIU community. Like many other people, I also began to wonder why another school shooting has occurred again and what we need to do to prevent them from happening in the future.
Following the Virginia Tech shootings, and the NIU shootings, I have heard alarming arguments that the solution to this problem is to make gun control more lenient. This argument asserts that the more accessible firearms are, the more people will be inclined to carry them. If more people carry them, not only will the “good guys” be able to better defend ourselves, but the “evil-doers” will be less likely to attack us. Thus, a more laissez-faire approach to gun control would act as a deterrent to any potential criminals in these people’s minds.
I would remind proponents of this argument that firearms are the very disease that is at the core of the epidemic of violence that our nation is suffering from. I have often heard the phrase “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” That may be true, but guns make it a hell of a lot easier. Having a gun meant that instead of stabbing one person in a crowded classroom, Steven Kazmierczak, the NIU gunman, was able to kill five people instead of just bludgeoning two. Seung-Hui Cho, the shooter at Virginia Tech, was able to kill 32. Indeed, the cure for this epidemic does not lie in distributing more of the same sickness.
Furthermore, if one takes into consideration a more common criminal act like robbery, one will realize that if both the assailant and the victim are armed, the likely outcome is that one of them will be dead before the encounter is concluded. In fact, the assailant may even be more likely to use lethal force if he or she believes that the victim may be armed. In either case, the situation would become more prone to a needless loss of life than to the deterrence of violent and dangerous behavior.
We all want to be able to walk down the street at night without fearing for our safety or for the safety of our loved ones. However, making guns more widely available to the general public is not the answer. In fact, doing so would only deprive us of that safety, and therefore make our country an even more dangerous place to live.
Nathanael Portner is a third-year student majoring in political science. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.