Last week’s shootings at a Congressional baseball practice and a San Francisco UPS warehouse once again raised the debate on whether we need stricter gun control laws.
But every shooting by a psychopath also raises the question: what would happen if a law-abiding, mentally stable citizen with a gun and a good shot had been on the scene?
In the case of last week’s shooting in DC, police took down the shooter, preventing what could have been an even grislier scene. However, the San Francisco shooting is indicative of what is more often the scenario, where victims are left to fend for themselves as they wait for armed law enforcement to arrive at the scene.
In a world that seems increasingly violent and unpredictable, having ordinary citizens carry small, concealed firearms seems less like a stretch. And while the idea of strangers with guns sitting next to me at the movies or on the train doesn’t seem very appealing, I would feel better knowing that if a lunatic wielding a weapon entered the picture, there was at least a chance that there was also someone who would be able to step in and stop them.
And while there’s a case to be made for concealed carry, we also need tighter background checks to make sure guns aren’t getting into the hands of the unfit. Those who commit mass shootings often have a history of domestic violence, mental instability or ties to radicalism—whether it was Islam or white supremacy. These are not the type of people who should be allowed to purchase anything that has the potential to end lives.
While everyone has the right to be a gun-owner, that’s a privilege that should be taken away if necessary. Convicted felons and convicted domestic abusers are already prohibited from owning guns, but those convicted of violent misdemeanors or drug/alcohol/gun related crimes, subject to temporary restraining orders or on terror watch lists, should also be added to that list. There’s no reason that someone who has been deemed a danger to another human being or themselves should be allowed a gun.
In the same way that we want medical professionals who have the power to give out powerful prescription drugs are educated and upright, we need to make sure those who own guns are able to handle the responsibility. There’s a reason we put medical professionals through years of school and screening to make sure they are up to the responsibility of taking care of peoples’ lives. In the same vein, there needs to be stringent checks in place to make sure only the most capable members of society have a weapon that can be so easily used for evil.
Unfortunately, stricter gun laws won’t stop every act of gun-related violence. Those who want to do harm will find a way to get their hands on a gun. So if and when there is another shooting, we need to make sure that the sane and upright citizens also have a way to defend themselves.