On April 20th, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, two students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, ended the lives of twelve fellow classmates and one teacher before committing suicide. Armed with a semi-automatic rifle, two shotguns, a handgun and 30 bombs, the two fulfilled their violent and racist dreams by committing the largest school massacre in U.S. history. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated phenomenon. Tuesday’s violence marks the eighth school massacre in the United States in the past two years.
In the aftermath of this tragedy, blame has been placed on everything from violence in films and video games to a lack of psychological counseling for disturbed teenagers. However, when it comes down to it, the American public has been unwilling to confront the truth: legal proliferation of firearms in the United States enables people like Harris and Klebold to kill many more people than they could otherwise kill. Without guns, could these two murderers have killed 13 people before they were stopped?
Here’s my proposal, unoriginal as it is. Let’s outlaw guns for everyone except for law enforcement officers. Other industrialized countries with heavily restrictive gun laws have dramatically fewer firearm deaths every year. For instance, “in 1996, handguns were used to murder 2 people in New Zealand, 15 in Japan, 30 in Great Britain, 106 in Canada, 213 in Germany,” as opposed to “9,390 in the United States.” [Source: Handgun Control, Inc.] A restriction of the right to bear arms is justified in that it will further protect people’s more fundamental right to life.
Admittedly, beneficial results from legislation banning firearms will not be immediately apparent. Guns so proliferate America that benefits will be years, perhaps decades, down the road. However, as guns are confiscated, turned in, and rendered useless by rust, the percentages of weapons will slowly decrease and rash crimes, such as the most recent one in Littleton, will occur with less frequency. Eventually, the United States should be able to reduce its murder rate to one comparable with other industrialized nations with restrictive gun control.
No doubt, respondents to this article will point to firearms as an invaluable form of self-defense. Unfortunately, the simple fact of the matter is that “guns kept in the home for self-protection are 43 times more likely to kill a family member or friend than to kill in self-defense.” [Source: Handgun Control, Inc.] With that kind of a statistic, why would you want a weapon for self-defense?
Some people, including the National Rifle Association’s chair Charleton Heston and Minnesota’s governor Jesse Ventura, have indicated that an armed guard in the school could have easily prevented this massacre. Unfortunately, the armed deputy Sheriff stationed in the school was unable even to slow down Harris and Klebold’s killing spree.
In the end, my proposal may not be political feasible, yet. The NRA’s effective lobbying has stifled virtually all gun control measures. The question becomes: when will the American people work to stop acts of senseless violence, such as the most recent one in Colorado, by banning firearms?
[Sources: New York Times, The Economist, Handgun Control, Inc.]
Handgun Control, Inc. is a reputable non-profit, non-partisan organization. Further, the statistics are just that, they do not point to a biased opinion, but are rather simple numerical expressions of fact.