By Quentin Choy
March 23, 2021
Frankly, the issue of guns is one of the most difficult for me to address. I understand both sides clearly, and I understand that like freedom of speech and religion, the right to bear arms is clearly, explicitly protected in the U.S. Constitution. However, following the restrictions of lockdowns and quarantines since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, mass shootings have decreased, especially in schools since schools have gone online in many areas.
The shooting in Atlanta against eight women was a sudden, ice-cold leap back into the America that many of us were familiar with before the start of the pandemic. Like a full moon or like payday, each month seemed to bring a mass shooting that was expected and unsurprising. The shooting at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado yesterday confirmed that as vaccines bring back a sense of “normalcy” that mass shootings are an aspect of the “normalcy “ to which we are returning. It was chilling to know that the shooting occurred less than 60 miles away from me.
The Boulder shooting, which took place at King Soopers, a supermarket, killed 10 people including a police officer. Senators and representatives in Colorado shared similar sentiments over the loss of life, and Republicans and Democrats diverged in their solutions to the problem. Democrats viewed it as another countless example for the necessity of gun control, and Republicans viewed it as another tragedy but not as a cause to take guns away from law-abiding citizens.
Each time a mass shooting occurs, I can’t help but think to myself how many times this must happen before reform is made. I also think about how important it is to distinguish what type of reform ought to be made. I support background checks before someone purchases a gun just like background checks that are done for more benign things such as volunteering or getting certain jobs. However, I oppose actions such as mandatory gun buyback programs which is an explicit violation of the 2nd Amendment. Some middle ground ought to be found, although I don’t exactly know what that ground should be.
Handguns and rifles should not be touched although I am more open to the idea of placing restrictions on military-grade weapons with high capacity magazines. I also believe that mental evaluations are important but don’t know how that should be incorporated into law. I am uncomfortable with the idea of tests and evaluations determining whether or not someone is allowed their Constitutional right.
President Biden called on the Senate to pass two House background check bills which would help to close loopholes in background checks. Senators debated over gun control as they usually do after these tragedies with the same partisan lines being drawn. Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Senator from Connecticut said that “without access to the weapon, the Atlanta shooter is just a racist and misogynist. But armed with a firearm, purchased that very day, he is a monster. A mass murderer. A disturbed man going into a grocery store yesterday, armed with a weapon of war, can kill with the brutal efficiency and speed meant for combat.”
While I want shootings like this to stop and to no longer be a regular part of American life, I frankly don’t know where to go from here. Any proposals and laws passed regarding gun control will be viewed as an infringement on Constitutionally-protected rights. However, any resistance to even small amounts of reform will be viewed as inaction, acquiescence, coldness, and uncaringness by lawmakers.
Image Courtesy of the Chicago Tribune.