Gun debate heats up

Amber Brockman, Editor

“The conversation about gun violence in America has reignited after a 16-year-old gunman in California killed two classmates before taking his own life last Thursday at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, and three people were killed outside of a Walmart in Oklahoma on Monday.

In Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers called on the state legislature to hold special sessions to discuss gun control reform. But his calls fell on deaf ears as a Nov. 7 special session was ended in under a minute with no debate and no votes by Republicans, who control the state legislature, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.

Firearm deaths in Wisconsin rose 28% from 2014 to 2017, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“A lot of people are killed because of gun violence,” UW Oshkosh criminal justice professor David Jones said. “Much more so in the United States than in comparable countries like European countries.”
Approximately 30% of American adults own a gun, and an additional 11% live with someone who does, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

“There are a lot more guns in the United States than in other countries,” Jones said. “There’s a lot of arguments about why that is the case, but because they’re there, it makes them available and … sometimes when people get angry, they grab what’s available.”

Within cities, gun violence is clustered among racially segregated, economically disenfranchised neighborhoods, according to Giffords Law Center.

“People that are more subject to gun violence are people living in the poor areas of central cities,” Jones said. “A lot of it is young males shooting at each other, and the problem with guns is it can kill you.”
Jones added the Second Amendment plays a role in preventing more stringent gun control policies from being implemented.

“The Second Amendment of the Constitution protects gun ownership at some very basic level, that you do have the right to own a gun and keep it for your own protection in your own home,” Jones said.

UWO criminal justice professor Durmus Alper Camlibel said gun control advocates would argue that the right to bear arms, especially in the 1700s, was directed at government oppression toward the citizens.

“The Second Amendment was originally created to give American citizens the opportunity to fight back against an oppressive federal government via a ‘well-regulated militia,’” Camlibel said. “Today, we don’t have to defend ourselves from the tyrannical federal power so they say that you are actually
misinterpreting the gun laws or constitution.’ They argue that the main focus of the second amendment must be ‘militia’ clause not the ‘bear arms’ part. Because, according to those people ‘the right to bear arms should only be granted to these well-regulated groups, not to every citizen.’”

Jones said there should be more control over the gun market and the current gun control policies should be better enforced.

“Also, I think, at least limit the availability of high powered rifles because those are the ones resulting in mass destruction,” Jones said. “You don’t need those kinds of guns to shoot a deer and if you’re shooting anything else with that, there’s not going to be anything left of it.”

Camlibel said it would also be helpful to limit magazine capacities in order to help prevent gun violence.
“Limiting the magazine capacity can help because right now they can take 30 rounds, but if you limit it to 10 rounds, it may prevent mass shootings,” Camlibel said. “So we can prevent casualties and deaths in shootings if the magazine capacity was limited for assault rifles.”

Camlibel said that gun control advocates would suggest enforcing harsher background checks, especially at gun shows.

“People go there and buy several guns at gun shows without a really thorough background check,” Camlibel said. “And the same people can buy 20 guns and sell those 20 guns on the street and there’s no background check on this type of transaction.”

UWO criminal justice associate professor Michael Lenza said the best way to prevent gun violence is to vote for someone who will make a change.

“Be aware and think critically about who the candidate is and what their policies are,” Lenza said. “Holding our politicians and government accountable is the best defense you have in a democracy.”