On Saturday morning, the entire MIT community was warned: “There was a person with a long rifle and body armor in the Main Group Building of MIT.” Minutes later, emails sent by RLADs, friends, and family members were less measured: “GUNMAN, STAY INSIDE!”, “Are you okay? Are you okay? Answer me!” Students stayed in, parents called in, and SWAT teams and news crews assembled.
Thankfully, the report was false, no one was hurt, and MIT is now safe. I realize that some readers would not want to think about politics, or discuss the issue of gun control. But we need to ask ourselves: what could have been?
The effects of gun violence are both devastating and post-traumatic. It has been just over two months since 26 students, faculty, and staff were shot and killed in Sandy Hook Elementary School. Memories of that day continue to haunt the residents of Newtown, Ct. In supermarket aisles, residents adorned shirts that read “we are Newton 12.14.12.” On the local Walgreens counter rested “Angels of Sandy Hook” bracelets. A memorial near the school commemorates those who passed away with white crosses pinned under an American flag. The town seems frozen in time.
One man. One gun. Lifetimes of tragedy.
If our lawmakers can prevent these potential criminals from obtaining guns, we can save lives, and prevent further suffering.
Forty percent of current gun purchases do not run checks for buyers’ criminal or mental health records. But Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Tom Coburn (R-OK), are drafting a bill to require background checks on all gun sales, both public and private. The bill also allows for private sales without record keeping, and for loopholes making straw purchases (buying guns for those unable to) possible. By running through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, criminals and mentally unstable buyers would unable to purchase guns.
But as with any serious regulatory policy-planning, there is always a group screaming “Liberty!”
In this case, we have the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA believes that this legislation would lead to the development of a national gun registry, and that the Obama administration is exploiting current events and fears to advance its own gun control agenda. Tea party activists backing the NRA believe that the Obama administration wants to tear up the second amendment.
Pro-gun activists argue that gun-free zones are potential shooting grounds, as they point to Rep. Gabby Giffords’s unforeseen incident as an example. They advocate for armed security guards to patrol the school to protect students.
In Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Arpaio took this advice to heart and enlisted actor/martial artist/producer/writer/musician Steven Seagal to train a posse for prepared combat services. The school simulated a school shooting and, “drawing from his martial arts skills, the ‘Above the Law’ and ‘Hard to Kill’ actor demonstrated the appropriate response to single and multiple-shooter scenarios…,” reminding the students that school is a never-ending battleground between posses and gunmen played out in an almost Counterstrike-fashion.
Hopefully, Congress and the American people will not be victimized by unreasonable, irrational, and obstinate gun activists. Gun control needs to be instated to stem gun violence. There are no excuses. The Tea Party caucus needs to cast partisanship aside because their solutions are just not working.
In this country, and around the world, “Liberty!” is a seductive cry. But gun violence has undermined our liberty by eroding our freedom from fear. Gun control legislation may not be perfect, but gun control advocates have the right to cry “Liberty!” as well.