The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

43° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: Arizona can lead the push for gun control

The United States is in desperate need of firearm regulation reform.

The tragic event that occurred in Orlando, Florida on June 12 is something that will remain in our nation’s memory for decades to come, and whether the shooter was driven to this act of hatred and violence by an allegiance to the Islamic State or by his own homophobia, one thing is obvious—he should not have had access to a firearm.

The shooter was able to legally purchase a SIG Sauer .223 caliber semiautomatic rifle and a Glock 17 9 millimeter semiautomatic handgun on June 4 and June 5 respectively, according to officials of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Despite being listed on two federal watch lists, The Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment and the Terrorist Screening Database , the shooter’s purchase was only interrupted by a mandatory three-day wait period, a federally mandated regulation. Under current federal law, it is illegal to bar the purchase of a firearm without proof of mental illness, a felony conviction, a dishonorable military discharge or lack of a legal immigration status.

These measures, though, have apparently done very little to restrict firearm violence in the U.S.

Roughly 3.7 out of every 100,000 Americans are the victim of firearm homicide, according to a Snopes.com fact check. The European Union, which has a population of 508.2 million people and gun regulation laws, suffers from a total of only 1,000 firearm homicides per year according to a Flemish Peace Institute report. This is a revealing comparison. There are several cultural, economic and social factors that contribute to the difference between gun homicide, but it’s clear the U.S. government has a role in preventing gun violence and preventing events like the Orlando tragedy.

The main issue with current U.S. gun policy is the presumption that all individuals should have the right to own firearms. Because of that assumption, we often have a difficult time regulating the supply side of firearms.

If during the mandatory background inspection period, indiscretions are found which require more than three days to investigate, the owner of a gun store may legally supply the buyer with a firearm after a maximum of three days has transpired .

There is an often exploited loophole in which a private owner of a firearm may sell or exchange a particular firearm without any requirement to register or claim the purchase to the federal government — several states have passed laws regulating this act. Roughly 40 percent of all firearm purchases go through a private buyer according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (http://smartgunlaws.org/prohibited-people-gun-purchaser-policy-summary/).

On top of giving the federal government more power to prevent the purchase of firearms based around criteria which already exists, there should also be mandatory psychological tests to determine if an individual is capable of safely owning a firearm. It does not strike me as unusual to expect an individual to provide reference from their peers to attest to the fact that the potential gun buyer is not a danger to themselves or those around them. Mass shooters often show previous signs of mental instability or extreme prejudices — double checking a gun buyer’s mental stability with their friends and family could be exactly the kind of regulation that’s capable of preventing more violence.

This issue is especially relevant to the Arizona community. Our state has some of the freest gun laws in the United States. Article 2, section 26 of the Arizona state constitution writes that “the right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself or the State shall not be impaired …”,  and in keeping with the spirit of the state constitution, Arizona has no firearm registration system, no license requirement to purchase a firearm, and no open-carry requirements.

As Arizona residents, we find ourselves in a unique position of being able to draw national attention. There is currently gridlock in congress about passing substantial gun control regulation and no sign of the issue being resolved.

But if we, as one of the freest states for gun ownership, began to champion the cause of gun control, if we stood up and demanded comprehensive reform in our state, we could send a message to the rest of the nation that we are tired of living with the possibility of terror striking our country. We could denote that we are willing to take steps to stop it. We could provide the push congress needs in order to give up on partisan politics and come together to bring real, tangible change.


Follow Jackson Morrison on Twitter


More to Discover
Activate Search