In light of the horrific tragedy in Roseburg, Oregon on the campus of Umpqua Community College, the talk of gun control has been reignited across the nation. President Obama did not hesitate to politicize the tragedy as a call to gun control, and Hillary Clinton spoke of possibly enforcing executive orders regarding gun laws, primarily enhancing background checks. (Fox News, October 5th, 2015)
However, there are two separate issues that must be acknowledged. The first being that the relevant issue is the lack of enforcement, not the lack of gun laws. As cited during a Congressional testimony in 1965 and later affirmed by Ronald Reagan addressing gun law advocates in 1981 “There are today more than 20,000 gun control laws in effect — federal, state and local” (CNS News, July 7th, 2008). Furthermore, the city of Chicago has one of the strictest gun law codes of any city in the nation, and yet it is cited as having one of the highest concentrations of gun violence in the United States. In spite of all those laws, the city fails to properly enforce them, resulting in the spike of crime. The relationship between the passing of laws and the enforcement of those laws is essential to effective regulation.
The second and more pressing issue is the belief that there need to be more gun-free zones. However, if you look at the general trend of where these shootings take place, it would lead you to the contrary. First we must ask, why are many of these shootings happening on campuses? There are two factors that explain this. The first being that the people who commit these mass-shootings are degenerate, lonely, socially inept, and mentally unstable. These are people who have inner rage that is produced both by their mental instability and their anger towards those that outcast them. This rage is then amplified by external factors such as media or environment. The culmination of rage and instability leads to a desire to unleash that anger and contempt towards that society. Once that desire has been affirmed, he looks for a place where there will be a large mass of defenseless people who minimal resistance. What better place to commit that mass shooting than at a gun-free zone, a place where you will not be shot back at until an ample amount of time has passed?
The Oregon shooting gives the second issue’s logic a practical application. The town of Roseburg is a pro-gun area, with many citizens exercising their right to concealed carry of a handgun. The sheriff of the town was elected on a 2nd Amendment platform, declaring that he would not allow Portland, Oregon’s capital, to enforce their anti-gun agenda on the town. However, Umpqua Community College was one of the few gun-free zones in the town. Now the shooter, Chris Harper Mercer, wrote a letter prior to the shootings, writing about how he was furious that he was still a virgin and that he never had a girlfriend; about how he was mentally unstable and about his contempt towards Christians. This led to his decision to carry out this mass shooting, and it is no coincidence that he chose to commit the crime at the college, a place where a mass amount of people were congregated and a place that was gun-free. Not even the security guard had a weapon to stop the shooter, and police arrived at the scene a whole 10 minutes after they were called. 9 precious souls were lost during that time, including 10 more wounded.
This is an unfortunate trend that we are seeing in this country. It is unanimous that actions must be taken to prevent the causes of these shootings and to restore a sense of security in our communities. However, we first have to correctly identify what those causes are.
Patrick Lupynis is pursuing a Political Science major and International Studies minor at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York.