The year is 1999. The setting? Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado. At 11:20AM on April 20th, two seniors, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, opened fire outside of the school. Their rampage ended around 50 minutes later, leaving 15 dead, including themselves.
The year is 2007. The setting? Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. At 7:15AM on April 16th, Seung-Hui Cho, a senior at the university, begins shooting at West Ambler Johnston Hall, leaving one of the resident advisors dead. By the time the mass shooting was over around 2 1/2 hours later, there were 33 deaths, including that of the shooter.
The year is 2012. The setting? Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. At around 9:30AM on December 14th, 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother, then began shooting in the elementary school, killing 28 people, including himself. Nobody knows why he targeted the school. Nobody ever will.
These three tragedies could have been prevented. Harris and Klebold got their guns because at the time, Colorado didn’t require background checks on private gun sales. Cho got his because of another loophole–because he willingly checked himself into a mental hospital and wasn’t forced into it, he was allowed to purchase a gun. Lanza was diagnosed with Asperger’s (now called autism spectrum disorder) and it’s speculated that he had schizophrenia that went undiagnosed. He also had OCD. I’m a firm believer that anyone with any sort of mental illness (barring eating disorders and learning disabilities) should NOT be allowed to own a firearm under ANY circumstances.
However, there’s more to it. A lot of shootings happen in gun-free zones. The reason for this should be obvious–nobody can stop a shooter if there’s no law-abiding citizen who carries a gun to defend themselves and everyone around them. You only are made aware of problems like this when it happens. And if it’s prevented, it’s not mentioned at all most of the time.
So, here’s what I believe could be different:
- Every gun dealer, private or not, runs an extensive background check.
- Anyone diagnosed with any sort of mental disorder should be barred from owning a gun.
- Gun-free zones shouldn’t exist, even in schools. Because think about how many shootings have happened in schools.
Stay safe everyone. Put your thoughts in the comments.