The tragedy in Colorado has destroyed innocent lives and once again changed the way that we view our own personal safety as we go about our day-to-day lives. While our first priority should always be the victims and honoring them, and insuring that justice is carried out against the perpetrator of the crime, it isn’t a huge surprise that such a terrible event should awaken the discussion about guns and gun control in the US.
There has been a cry to ignore this call, by various news pundits, out of respect for the victims and their families. There has been the suggestion that it is inappropriate to discuss these things because they do not help the situation.
But I think it is fair enough to say that for a majority of people, when they hear of a terrible tragedy, they want to do something to prevent it from happening again. Be it the reaction to 9/11 to start wars, or to donate money to a charity to support the cost of healthcare for uninsured victims, you want to do something. That this is a time people start raising questions about gun control isn’t surprising.
The U.S. needs to have a discussion about guns. And it needs to be a legitimate discussion about the risks of gun violence and also gun rights. Sure, we could wait awhile to have this discussion, but as the media seems to have a five-minute attention span, it might be hard to find another five minutes when people are completely involved in the debate.
This isn’t a call to stop selling guns or ammunition, or to take away the Second Amendment. This is a call to look over how and when we have guns. This is a call to start talking about how to limit gun sales to reputable stores with in-person purchases and waiting periods with background checks. This is a call for people to start limiting the sales of gun accessories over the Internet, including battle armor and ammunition. These sales should be as well documented as possible so law enforcement can keep a record.
Are any of these things a solution? No, of course not. Do terrible tragedies occur in countries with strict gun control policies? Yes they do. Should responsible gun owners be punished for the actions of others? No, of course not.
But we need to start talking about what steps can be taken to make gun violence less likely. The U.S. does have a higher rate of gun violence than countries that have gun restrictions, and while the Second Amendment does need to be protected, we need to decide where the boundaries are and how high a price we are willing to pay.