Lutz: Gun control in America

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In this year alone, there have been 18 school shootings and at one point there was an average of three per week.

Going all the way back to the ‘70s, a total of 3,652 days in that time span, there were a combined 30 school shootings. As of Feb. 26th of this year, there were at least 18 of them at a total of just 57 days. Beyond crazy.

In America, gun control has always been a problem, especially since more recent incidents such as, Columbine High School, Sandy Hook Elementary School and now Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The National Rifle Association has come out recently still in support of a lack of a gun ban.

Like it or not, the biggest problem is who the shooters are, if they’re unstable, not how it’s carried out.

On Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 17 people were killed and 14 were wounded by a former student. The perpetrator, Nikolas Cruz, confessed to the murders, was taken into police custody and is currently awaiting trial. He used a semi-automatic gun, a lot of people publicly disapproved of his methods alone.

Many people believe that, murder or not, semi-automatic weapons are unnecessary, unless you’re a military member.

Days after the shooting, President Donald Trump tweeted that he was in support of providing school teachers with guns, as preventative measures. In addition to those comments, Trump also remarked that he would propose to change current U.S. gun laws, to which the NRA immediately criticized.

As gracious as providing financial support for these victims’ families is, the kindness doesn’t eliminate the problem. Even more, as alarming and deadly as semi-automatic weapons are [in this case it was a Colt AR-15 rifle], a lack of proper mental health care is the true problem. This hasn’t been fully addressed though.

The fact that school shootings and each shooter’s mental health, especially Cruz’s, have a correlation isn’t a mere coincidence.

In this case, Cruz posted videos months ago of self-harm, he suffered with depression and had autism. One of the two Columbine shooters, Eric Harris, suffered with depression, as did Adam Lanza, the lone shooter in the Sandy Hook shooting. Some people are predisposed with depression and/or bipolar disorder, while some aren’t. But either way, it’s very scary.

In 1994, Congress passed a law that prohibited the production of certain semi-automatic weapons, yet access of guns by everyday people in America, even in gun-controlled environments, will never cease. Despite the law being passed, it expired in 2004 and studies among books proved that the law had little effect in criminal activity. Ironically, the law expired as pro-gun President George W. Bush was in office. Bush’s vice president at that time was Dick Cheney, who is a member of the NRA.

I find that guns are necessary as a form of protection. Some people are willing to purchase one to protect their family or to use one for sport/hunting wild animals. All are valid reasons, especially if the buyer passes a background check.

In the shooting, despite all of the warning signs and mental diagnosis, Cruz passed a background check when he made his gun purchases. Reportedly, purchasing 10 of guns.

He exhibited the following warning signs: Cutting himself, being flagged by a Youtube user for a high-risk comment he made, leaving racial slurs on his backpack and being treated for depression. How did all of these warning signs go unnoticed?

Ever since then, many strikes have occurred. A former Marine and current high school teacher vowed to always protect his students but was against arming teachers with guns. Regarding the same issue, a Cherry Hill High School teacher was all for professors having access to guns. For his comments, he was suspended by the school board and now students of his, who agree with him, are protesting the decision.

In September of last year, the FBI contacted a Youtube user from Mississippi who is a bail bondsman, who had posted a video about incidents from his line of work. Cruz replied to the video by saying “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”

I realize the FBI has thousands of cases like these that they have to consider but I still ponder how they didn’t follow up after their initial contact. Not only did he leave the comment but over the past seven years, but according to the New York Post, local cops arrived at his house 39 different times.

When he was five, he witnessed his father die of a heart attack and was bullied by his younger half-brother, Zach. Being bullied and not correctly medically cared for are the two aggressors, Cruz should’ve been hospitalized.

A year and a half ago, after his mother died of pneumonia, he was taken in by a family friend’s parents and was given a fresh start. Despite that, his poor decisions continued. According to a friend of his, Cruz was lonely, an outcast and ostracized by classmates.

He had multiple Instagram videos of him trying on bomb masks and had photos of the guns he purchased.

Over a year ago, Trump repealed a law by former President Obama that makes it easier to block the sale of firearms for people with mental health issues. Unfortunately, like the Prohibition era, blocking them can lead to a black market.

The more laws banning them certainly can’t hurt. In spite of that, people will still find ways to access them, no doubt about it. If doctors control people’s health, it could eliminate a lot more of these shootings from occurring, on the black market or not.

Despite my disapproval of semi-automatic weapons, especially in cases like these, the lack of medication and improper mental diagnoses does nothing to destroy the country’s crime rate. It’s not always about what the weapon is, it’s about who’s pulling the trigger and why they’re doing so.

My ultimate belief is that the biggest thing is putting more emphasis on treating people’s medical illness(s) properly. It’s not about vengeance, it’s about accountability. May all of the victims rest in peace.

For questions/comments on this column, email editor@thewhitonline.com or tweet @TheWhitOnline.

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