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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Aurora reflections: US needs stricter assault weapon regulations

    In the wake of the Aurora, Colo. tragedy, in which 12 were killed and 58 were wounded, we crave answers to our questions and demand solutions that might help stop these acts in the future.

    After mass shootings such as this, the argument that arises is that our nation needs better gun control. Some critics of current gun control laws claim that the only way to prevent similar tragedies in the future is for the United States to make owning guns illegal altogether. On the other hand, conservative groups such as the National Rifle Association passionately argue that lifting gun regulations will allow good samaritans to stop potential shooters during an attack.

    But neither of these stances on gun laws offer the solutions our country needs. The debates ignited from these tragedies evolve into polarized arguments that produce little to no progress. Instead, we should work on devising realistic measures that will make it more difficult for criminals to commit mass murder.

    These criminals often carefully plan their crimes far in advance, and think of multiple ways to make their offenses possible. For example, Holmes knew enough about bombs to rig his entire apartment with complex explosives. Even if guns were illegal, what would have stopped him from using explosives rather than weapons to complete his goal? Rather than arguing over gun legality, we should start discussing the types of restrictions and policies that might actually improve this dire situation.

    One possible law proposes that gun vendors should perform more thorough background checks on buyers.

    The New York Times reported that Holmes was once a promising doctoral student in neuroscience with a clean criminal record apart from a speeding ticket. While neighbors and classmates described him as socially awkward, Holmes was deemed competent enough to legally own a weapon. Thus, the Aurora shooting proved that background checks for purchasing weapons are insufficient firewalls for preventing the irresponsible and potentially unstable from purchasing weapons. More often than not, these assailants have emotional or behavioral disorders that no one had detected prior to their gun purchases.

    However, placing limitations on the kinds of firearms that are legal to own offers a much more sensible way of preventing mass murders. Holmes used an assault rifle with a 100-round drum magazine that could shoot 50 to 60 rounds per minute. It jammed in the attack, but if weapons like assault rifles were illegal as they were before 2004, lives could have been spared in this attack. They have an exclusive purpose to kill people in militant conflicts and as a result have no place in our day to day lives.

    Likewise, when Jared Loughner opened fire at former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and a group of supporters last year, he used a 33-round clip that let him continue shooting without having to reload, preventing bystanders from retaliating and giving him more opportunities to shoot. Had extended clips been illegal, it’s likely that fewer victims would have been shot. Just like assault rifles, extended clips and other weapons and accessories are designed for use in armed combat. They go far beyond our right or need to bear arms.

    Arguments over the Second Amendment’s validity in the modern age is not the way to abate mass murder. In 2008’s District of Columbia v. Heller case, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment still grants us a constitutional right to bear arms: “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.” It’s a right bestowed to us as a precaution, guaranteeing us the tools necessary to defend ourselves from any threat.

    But as we continue to debate over gun legality, the calls for real and practical actions that could help reduce mass murders are muffled under the same disputes that hinder our progress. The potential for criminals to commit mass murders can only be reduced by enforcing stricter gun regulations in regards to assault weapons.

    — Michael Carolin is a junior studying journalism and creative writing. He can be reached at or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

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