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Gun control now

Jack Rooney | Thursday, January 17, 2013

 I really can’t make it any clearer than the headline. As I sit writing this in my dorm room, the TV in the background is informing me that it has been one month since the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. On Dec. 14, when most of us were eagerly awaiting the beginning of winter break and finishing our last exams, the students of Sandy Hook, ranging in age from five to 10 years old, survived what can only be described as a living hell. Anyone reading this undoubtedly knows the senseless events of that day. I can only refer to them as tragic because no words I can find aptly describe the horror experienced by the children and their loved ones. Nor, for that matter, can I even begin to imagine how the children and their loved ones would feel.
However, my goal is not to write a thoroughly depressing piece trying to make sense of the senseless and wicked. The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was the act of a madman. The reason I am writing about it now, though, is because it was specifically the act of a madman with a gun (make that several guns).
Following any tragedy involving multiple gun deaths, the conversation eventually turns to renewed political efforts for stricter gun control. However, this is only after a large dissenting group claims that we, as a country, need to wait until the wounds begin to heal. They claim it is wrong to use the tragedy as political motivation. They say now is not the time to discuss gun control.
Tell me something, then: When is the time? Certainly the time for real gun control was before 27 people died in Newtown, most of whom had barely begun their lives. It was before six people died at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in August, and before 12 people died in an Aurora, Colo. ,movie theatre in July. The time to affect change on the United States’ pitifully lax gun laws was before people started dying. But dwelling on the past does no good for the future, so we need to turn our focus now to assuring events like Friday’s never again befall this country.
I live in Chicago (actual Chicago, not the surrounding suburbs) and in 2012, Chicago reported 506 homicides. Through some simple calculations, one can deduce that Chicago experienced an average of more than one homicide per day during the previous year. In the infancy of this new year, Chicago has already reported 82 shootings (though not all fatal). Every night I make the unfortunate choice to watch the news at home, I inevitably see several reports of gun violence or death within the city. The victims are not seasoned gang members or hardened criminals, either. They are often children and innocent bystanders who suffered from a case of mistaken identity. Is it actually acceptable to live in a society where people shoot, then think?
I understand by this point, many who disagree with me have already stopped reading because I am neglecting the Constitutional implications of practical gun control and because they have already labeled me as another liberal with a pipe dream for peace. I gladly accept that label and wear it proudly because I do not think an end to gun violence is all that unimaginable. Nor, for that matter, do I think the Second Amendment can any longer justify the thousands of senseless slayings in this country. I defend the notion that the Constitution is a living document, not a killing document, as the Second Amendment has tragically allowed it to become.
People often use the principle of original intent to defend certain Constitutional clauses and amendments. The framers of the Constitution were many things, but stupid was not one of them. How could they have possibly have known allowing for the right to bear arms would eventually lead to close to 10,000 needless deaths per year? Certainly they did not envision a country in which the homicide total consistently exceeds that of almost every other industrialized country in the world combined. I lament to say events like those in Newtown are the price Americans pay for their gun “rights.”
That being said, I do not know exactly how to enact true gun control in our country. I do not know if the comprehensive plan recently proposed by the White House will yield results. I do know it will be one of the most daunting tasks this nation has ever seen because the United States has sadly developed a gun culture in which people feel it is their God-given right to own a firearm. But I’m not done thinking yet, and neither are the best minds in the world. I doubt we ever will be. For now, all I know is the rabid gun culture needs to end. Now.
Jack Rooney is a freshman studying political science.  He can be contacted at jrooney1@nd.edu
    The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.