Increase in gun violence poses question of firearm safety courses
By ALEX SPENCE
We infamously remember on April 20, 1999 when the small town of Littleton, Colorado saw two high school seniors stroll the halls of Columbine High School killing 12 students and one teacher. We remember the morning of Dec. 14, 2012 when Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 first graders and six adults inside the cold walls of Sandy Hook Elementary School.
And, only three weeks ago, on Oct. 1, 2015, Christopher Harper-Mercer open-fired in his college English class, killing eight fellow students and one teacher of Umpqua Community College in Oregon.
For how could we forget these tragic events where innocent people lost their lives. However, these are not the only tragic shootings to have occurred on school grounds.
According to MSNBC, nearly 100 more school shootings have occurred since Sandy Hook, and while not all of them resulted in injuries or death, the potential was certainly there. Many in the public, including politicians such as Hilary Clinton and President Obama, and even celebrities such as Kristen Bell and Lady GaGa have banned together in an effort to create more concrete gun control laws.
While I applaud the importance that they have placed on such controversial issues as gun control, I have to question if stricter gun control laws will actually reduce violence.
According to American Gun facts, the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy recently published a study that showcased a negative correlation between gun ownership and violent crime which concluded that more guns equals less crime.
With only a few exceptions, USA Today reported that every public mass shooting in the United States since 1950 has taken place where citizens are banned from carrying guns.
These “gun-free” zones include but are not limited to specific movie theaters, churches, public malls and of course, school grounds.
The Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 is a federal United States law that bans anyone from possessing a gun on any defined school zone.
But that did not stop Christopher Harper-Mercer, Adam Lanza or any of the other criminals from setting foot onto a gun-free school zone with a firearm. While I agree that enacting stricter gun control will make it more difficult to obtain firearms, I do not believe that it will stand in the way of criminals who have no regards for the law or human life.
Instead of banning guns, why don’t we talk about them? How about we introduce them as a tool for safety and teach people how to use them? School districts and State Legislatures are actually pushing for gun education in the classroom, and should be considered as another option.
For instance, the National Rifle Association, NRA, started Eddie Eagle, a program developed for children. It includes animated videos that teach children four basic steps when finding a firearm: stop, do not touch, run away and tell a grown up.
According to ABC, in the past two years, Wisconsin, Oregon and New York State Legislatures have attempted to make Eddie Eagle a mandatory part of school curriculum, but so far none of the bills have been successful. While teaching gun safety to children under the age of 12 may be a bit farfetched, the NRA certainly has the right idea.
The addition of college courses focusing on gun safety might not be for everyone, and that is okay, however, it should be an option for those who are interested.
It is a right for students to protect themselves, and if placed in a dangerous situation, I believe it is important to at least know the proper procedure when in contact with a firearm. With the amount of schools that have been subjected to gun violence, I question why this has yet to become a serious option.
If the faculty at Sandy Hook and Columbine, or the students at Umpqua Community College had been trained in gun safety and were legally allowed to protect themselves on school grounds, perhaps there could have been a different outcome.
I am not saying protection only lies in the hands of those who choose to carry arms, however, I am saying the price of safety could very well be educating yourself.