Guns are the problem, NRA is the enemy


Bryn Valdez, Reporter

There comes a point when enough people are massacred because of gun violence when hopes and prayers are no longer enough. As of now, guns are so readily available to anyone with a will to own one, or many for that matter is able to attend a gun show and come home that same day with a new military-grade rifle and no background check completed.

In order to prevent yet another tragedy, we need to enact laws that will regulate the availability of weapons capable of mass murder, specifically to those with a criminal background or history of mental illness.

   This statement alone seems to strike fear into the 30% of adult Americans who own guns, seemingly because it comes off as an attack on their Second Amendment Rights.

   However, responsible gun owners should be able to rest easy, because the American culture we live in right now is in no position to execute extensive gun laws that restrict all ownership. Rather, the more reasonable approach would be to enact smaller gun restrictions in the hopes that they deter people looking to harm other with guns.

A prime example would be the laws that Florida has been passing since the time of the Stoneman-Douglas shooting.

Governor Rick Scott has passed laws that raise the minimum age for buying a gun from 18 to 21, create a waiting period of three days before guns are received to allow time for a possible background check, banning bump stocks that allow rifles to fire faster, and expanded school security and mental health services.

For many, this may seem like a drastic and exaggerated reaction, but in looking at global data the new laws are actually supported. For example, in 1996 a shooter armed with an AR-15, an automatic rifle, opened fire into a crowd in Port Arthur, Australia. Following the deaths and injuries of his 53 victims, Australian lawmaker banned the selling and import of semi-automatic military grade firearms.

The result has been not a single mass shooting in the country since.

Another popular response that gun supporters have taken up in the wake of the Parkland shooting is that teachers should be armed in the event of a threat. However, these people fail to realize what a huge responsibility it is to carry a firearm, which is taxing both mentally and physically.

Teachers would have to decide if they are prepared to face the chance that they may have to take a life, which may seem trivial in the moment of undergoing training but has the potential to haunt them forever. Having armed teachers also opens the possibility of a student gaining control of the firearm and turning on their peers.

It is especially hard to imagine in our quaint and friendly town of Durango, arming our own DHS instructors at all times instead of looking into other causes that may be responsible for upholding this trend.

It seems as though these responses are a scapegoat to avoid the fact that we need to start addressing the real issue in our society like how we deter boys from showing emotion and address mental illness as a taboo.

The parkland shooter, Nikolas Cruz, had a history of depression tied to the death of his mother, which he was encouraged to conceal, in addition to racist views regarding his fellow students. From what police have determined to be an unclear motive, a logical explanation would be that Cruz struggled to overcome his dejection and turned to a surface-level rationale for placing the blame on somebody else.

There is a possibility that if America’s culture were not so close-minded to these issues, Nikolas would have chosen another path and 17 lives would still be here. According to the American Heart Association, nearly half of the 20% of Americans with mental illness do not seek treatment, Cruz being among them.

With this said, the NRA and other gun-positive organizations still push for a pro-gun legislature that blames gun violence completely on mental illness and has no regard for the consequences that have been proven to come from their actions.

The NRA itself is so deeply rooted in our government that when asked point-blank by a Parkland survivor if he would stop accepting donations from the organization in return for loyalty to them, Republican Senator Marco Rubio, refused to agree and even acknowledge that they were part of the problem.

It is clear to see that while the issue of gun violence in America is much more than guns themselves, there has never been a more urgent time to start executing preventative measures.