D.C. shooting sparks debate

Farmer is a senior political science and international studies double major from Thomasville, Ga. He is the current Opinions Editor. He is also a brother of Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity, Inc.

James Farmer

On Monday the DC naval yard was attacked by at least two gunmen, and the details are still hazy at the time this column was written. At least one shooter is dead, and six civilians are wounded. While the police and media will analyze this case over the next weeks and months to determine the cause and the logistical planning of the shooting, inevitably it will spark an all-too-familiar debate in our country.

Gun control is always a hot-topic issue in the United States, where the Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms, but gun-related deaths in our country are annually more than most other Western countries. Gun control laws are one of the most divisive issues in this country, with powerful lobbies and people literally up in arms adding to the fire. Most Americans feel that the right to bear arms should not be infringed upon, but at the same time the frequency and sheer number of gun-related deaths in the United States proves to many that something needs to change within our gun laws.

The two solutions that people propose to curb gun violence are predictable and quite frankly, worn out. Those in favor of relaxed gun laws propose that everybody should be armed, as people are less likely to shoot if they think someone will shoot back. They point to the low crime rates and mandatory gun ownership in Switzerland, and also in Kennesaw, Ga. Those in favor of increased gun control think that if people have a harder time getting guns, then gun violence will decrease. They point to the gun laws in Australia and many European countries that have very low crime rates.

The fact of the matter is that the U.S. is not these other places. Switzerland requires all men to undergo military training, and the gun ownership is so that the Swiss Army can be ready literally at a moment’s notice. Australia’s assault weapons ban and the U.K.’s gun laws are aided by the fact that those countries are islands, where the flow of weapons is easily controlled.

So where does that leave us? Passing a gun competency test to have a gun, like a driver’s license test could work, but then again, driving a car isn’t a right of U.S. citizens. Establishing mental competence prior to owning a gun would probably be the best solution, but psychological testing is expensive and can be flawed.

The gun control debate has yet to find a good solution. If it had, we wouldn’t be talking about it so much. But it is up to us, as U.S. citizens, to come up with new and creative ideas to lower gun violence.