The issue of gun rights and gun control reform is a more than prevalent topic in U.S. politics. Being the world’s leader in guns owned per 100 people (89) and accounting for 31% of the mass shootings (Fox 2018), it is not surprising that a debate over this matter would ensue. Despite these statistics, it is my belief that there is no reason to use mass shootings as evidence to take away guns from the American people.
The right to bear arms is included in the second amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. This country is predicated on the idea that each and every citizen is always armed and never vulnerable. A right as simple and as the basic right to free speech, the Second Amendment has come under more fire than any other constitutional amendment by a wide margin. Many left leaning political activists would push for a revision of the amendment, while some such as retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens have made public statements calling for the outright repeal of the amendment (Greenfield 2018). The impact of such a radical political and cultural change would be devastating for two reasons. The first being that taking away every gun in America means stripping mostly innocent people of a constitutional right that they personally did nothing to show that they do not deserve. Secondly, one would be correct in assuming that just simply outlawing something will not completely get rid of it. Many things are illegal and are still very prominent today, such as drug use. In summation, gun control is not a favorable plan of action from a constitutional standpoint.
The issue causing the deaths of all of these people is not one to be associated with gun ownership, but is to be reflected by the overall mental health of the nation. As stated earlier, we as a country have had the right to bear arms since the early days of America. If this is so, why is the debate only becoming prominent in the twenty-first century? The answer is simple, the recent shootings is related to the people firing the guns; not the weapon. According to research published by the L.A. Times, at least 59% of mass shooters were either diagnosed with or had displayed clear signs of some sort of mental illness (Duwe 2018). This being said, time wasted on debating ideas to take guns out of the mentally ill’s hands should be spent on attempting to get these people the treatment they so desperately need and do not always reach out for. In order to stop such horrific acts of violence, the problem must be treated at its roots. There is no victory in taking one weapon out of the hands of a psychopath, as he will simply find another. Rather, emphasis must be placed on finding out how we can prevent these psychopaths from developing in the first place. Be it increased screenings, mandatory evaluations at school, or whatever it may take, it is simply more logical to treat this clear mental health issue at its core rather than finding a solution further down the road.
Even if all goes well in weeding out those who are mentally unfit for society, there is no such thing as a perfect society, and we as a society must be prepared for what inevitably slips through the cracks. A popular idea, even endorsed by President Donald Trump is to increase armed security in places with higher mass shooting frequencies such as schools. This idea has expanded to potentially include teachers in the fight against mass shootings. For example, Great Mills High School in Maryland experienced a school shooting on March 20th, 2018. The difference between this event and the myriad of others that have taken place is that an armed officer was in place to prevent more damage. An armed student shot one male and one female student that morning before classes, officer Blaine Gaskill arrived at the scene in under a minute and returned fire, killing the shooter before he could take any more lives (Levenson 2018). It is said that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, and while this is shown in Great Mills, the opposite can be said for the tragedy that took place in Parkland, Florida. While seventeen students were shot and killed, reports indicate that the school resource officer, the same position that Gaskill held, did not react to the situation, Instead, he waited outside for “upwards of four minutes” while high schoolers were maliciously gunned down (Silva 2018). The solution to these deaths is simple, more security in better hands. Who is to know how many students would still be alive today had one teacher or guard been prepared, let alone five, ten, or even the entire faculty. To put it simply, America faces its greatest danger when the amount of bad guys with guns outnumbers the amount of good guys.
America and democracy as a whole is based on the principle that the people are defending themselves, both in political and practical purposes. We as a people have the constitutional right to defend ourselves, and with this comes our right to own and operate firearms. There is little to no evidence that would indicate that there is a pressing need to change or ban this right that has existed since the birth of our country. America is built upon our rights as citizens, and there is no reason to turn our backs on these rights now.