Thankfully no one was injured when 20-year-old Michael Brandon Hill brandished an AK-47 in a Georgia elementary school on Tuesday. In the last few years, major instances of gun related violence have made national headlines. Recently there was the Aurora shooting and the Sandy Hook shooting just to name a few.
While what happened in Georgia this week did not result in any injuries or casualties, we should keep discussing it and it probably should make bigger headlines than it has been. Gun violence is one of the most hotly debated topics in the country. That being said, here is what I think we should take away from what happened in Georgia and in past related events.
The Second Amendment to the United States of America reads as follows, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This has been interpreted to mean that U.S. citizens have the right to bear arms, or to own guns. I wholeheartedly agree. It is within our rights to own a weapon for defensive purposes. However, there needs to be limitations to that.
Obviously we have the standard set of limitations on owning a gun. What we lack, however, is a cohesive system in which the standard is the same throughout the country. Buying a gun in Alabama is much different from buying a gun in Massachusetts. I firmly believe that shouldn’t be the case. Furthermore, if you look at the history behind those who commit these mass shootings, you will certainly find history of mental illness of some sort. I think that there should be policies in place that prevent people who are mentally unstable or are undergoing treatment for mental illnesses from buying/owning a gun.
That is not to say that every mental illness is the same or that every person who suffers from a mental illness is going to go on a shooting rampage. It is quite clear that is not the case. The problem here is that certain people just shouldn’t own a firearm. In a society that tries to hold itself to a set of laws, much like our Constitution and Bill of Rights, there will always be an exception to the rule. In order to fully govern and protect citizens, governments do have to infringe on rights to a degree. It is a give and take system.
The bottom line is that there are people out there that wish harm on others. Sometimes it is harming people in a dark movie theater. Other times it is terrorizing and harming children in school. Unfortunately these things happen but we can take measures in order to prevent them from happening again. My solution is better, more universal, screening of applicants for gun ownership. It won’t stop gun violence from happening but it’s a start.