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The Arizona shooting has left the nation in an eerie paralysis, as citizens face an emotionally-charged tangle of individual rights, public safety and disconcerting tragedy.
Taking six innocent lives and injuring 14, the shooting in Arizona has thrown the raging controversy of gun control into the public eye. The tragedy has claimed notable publicity as Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was one of the injured victims shot by Jared Loughner.
The Arizona tragedy adds to the list of shootings that have shaken the country. The shooting has left citizens with an enough-is-enough mentality and desperate for a solution.
A solution to gun control resides in the disturbing similarities between the Arizona shooting and past shootings, including Columbine High School in 1999 and Virginia Tech in 2007. The blatant correlation of the shootings mentioned is the mentally ill conditions of the shooters.
The problem is simple: guns are falling into the hands of the wrong people. However, the solution is hardly black or white.
Gun control must be applied in one of two directions. One, the gun rights of every citizen must be restricted. Two, the ability to obtain a gun must require the approval of mental health, entailing more interrogative background checks and stricter, invasive national mental help.
Restricting gun rights of citizens to any extent challenges the constitutional right defined by the second amendment, the right to bear arms. Yet, more extensive background checks and increasing mental help, conflicts with natural rights, specifically the right to privacy.
Choosing a direction calls for determining whether constitutional or natural rights are more important. Such a dispute will guarantee public opposition one way or the other.
History proves national tragedies resulting in gun abuse, correlates with individuals suffering with a mental illness.
Psychologist Peter Langman confirmed that the shooters of the 1999 Columbine shooting, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, both suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts, according to USA Today. Though, noticed prior to the shooting, their conditions were neither tended to, nor reported.
The shooter at Virginia Tech, Seung-Hui Cho, displayed much more obvious symptoms of mental illness. Prior to the shooting, Cho had been admitted to the school hospital for suicidal threats and exhibited symptoms of depression and anxiety, according to ABC News.
Though the school doctor recognized Cho’s dangerous state, it was never reported officially and thus remained unknown.
Similar to Harris, Klebold and Cho, Jared Loughner, of the Arizona shooting, exhibited severe warning signs of a mental illness. Loughner once threatened George Bush in 2002 and had been casually diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, according to CNN.
But because Loughner’s mental conditions and dubious past was never recorded, he could be considered an average citizen; particularly in the eyes of a gun salesman.
Despite the clear warnings of psychological disorders, all of the aforementioned shooters were able to obtain a gun without trouble. They are fatal representatives of the loopholes in current gun control laws.
Former FBI Assistant Director Tom Fuentes confirmed this disturbing reality, according to CNN.
“In this country, we have no shortage of mentally unbalanced people, and it seems in case after case, they have no trouble obtaining firearms,” Fuentes said.
The repeated and indisputable link between gun abuse and the mentally ill, demands the redefinition of gun control in efforts to ban those with warnings of disorders from obtaining a firearm.
It seems America has reached this conclusion before, but couldn’t quite stick to it. In 1968, The Federal Gun Control Act was passed, prohibiting the possession of or sale to a “mentally defective” person.
Since the Act was a passed, a “security measure” called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has been developed. Despite our rapidly advancing technological society, the system is 13 years old and its unreliability isn’t a secret anymore.
A cruel-intentioned Jared Loughner strolled into a Tuscan gun shop to purchase his Glock 19. For safety precautions, his name ran through the NICS database.
His name cleared with a past of numerous arrests for drug possession, an expulsion from his community college and multiple threats. According to NPR, his name cleared because a professional never reported his unstable behavior and because his arrests weren’t convictions.
As it stands, the NICS is for show, a measure for comfort, not real security.
Gun control must be furthered with a drastically improved, interrogative background check. The check must go above and beyond, involving persons in relation to the individual purchasing the gun, and require a mental record even if rendered clean.
Perhaps these precautions seem encroaching and unjust, but they wouldn’t be a problem for those with nothing to hide. Refining the background check is a preventative action disabling those prone to gun abuse by mental illness.
Until preventative action is taken, the list of shootings will elongate at the expense of patriotism and public safety.
In the increasingly hateful and polarized political climate, never has a solution regarding gun control been so dire.
Shootings are tragedies of erratic occurrence, from universities to supermarkets. Gun control remains an issue relevant to every citizen. No matter the location or victims, we are all affected, and can all relate.
Contact CU Independent Copy Editor Devon Barrow at Devon.email@example.com.