POLICIES SURROUNDING GUNS UNLIKELY TO CHANGE
After the largest mass shooting took place in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, gun control, and lack thereof, has come back as a major topic of discussion. People are worried, more and more are Americans venting their frustrations over what is being done to regulate guns.
After every attack, the nation questions how a person could possibly get away with such a heinous crime, let alone obtain such heavy machinery with ease. Opinions about whether the government should enforce more restrictions on guns varies across the political spectrum, raising the question: Why are shootings continuing to occur and what can society do to prevent them?
“We need to work on our culture, that win, lose thing,” Dr. Michael Cummings, Professor Emeritus and CU President’s Teaching Scholar, said. “We’re pretty over in the direction that winning is everything, it’s the only thing. If you take that seriously, you’re going to have a society divided among itself of winners and losers. We need to work on that because people don’t start killing a lot of innocent others unless in some sense they think they’re a loser. It’s unfair, there shouldn’t be a loser.”
After the Las Vegas shooting, where 58 people died and more than 500 others were injured, Democrats are pushing for stricter gun laws, claiming that too many families have suffered at the hand of gun violence. They argue that one way to prevent similar massacres from occurring is to limit the amount of people who carry weapons.
Republicans, who currently have a lot of power in Congress, are pushing for looser gun laws. They argue that by allowing more people to carry concealed weapons, people can defend themselves in dangerous situations.
“On one hand, we have polls that show Americans want more gun control,” Cummings said. “Then we have the reality that on the ground the National Rifle Association and similar gun-control groups are saying, ‘no.’”
The second amendment allows US citizens the right to keep and bear arms. It’s up to state and local governments to decide whether residents are allowed to conceal and carry guns; however, the person possessing the gun is always determined by the federal government. In order to obtain a weapon, one must be at least 18 years old. Handguns and other firearms are only sold to those over 21 years of age.
Background checks are required in some states like Colorado and Nevada. “Legally, Paddock didn’t have a criminal background,” Cummings said. “It’s easy to get guns, so if you make it harder, you’re not going to eliminate acts of gun violence but you can cut down on it significantly.”
After the Las Vegas shooting, liberals are starting to talk about amending the second amendment. While considered unrealistic by some, there’s a possibility that politicians may push for this change.
“The likelihood of that is close to zero, the reason being it’s a part of the Bill of Rights,” Dr. Cummings said. “If it were to happen, it would be a state by state process of deciding how much freedom versus how many restrictions there should be.”
Communications student Kathryn Goldberg, who would rather have a dog to protect her and her family than a gun, doesn’t find the repealing process to be realistic, especially since so many people own guns.
“I don’t have a problem with the second amendment,” Goldberg said. “I have a problem with the level of weaponry people are able to buy because I don’t see a necessity to it. I don’t understand why people need assault rifles.”
President Donald Trump hasn’t addressed his thoughts on gun control during his term and Cummings can’t predict what his administration will do.
“Trump doesn’t have a political ideology,” Cummings said. “A few years ago, he said he was more of a Democrat. It’s difficult to predict what he will do.”
At CU Denver, students, staff, and faculty members who have legal permits to carry a concealed handgun are allowed to do so on campus. According to the Regent Policy 14, “The University of Colorado shall not, by rule or regulation, restrict the ability of any person who has been lawfully issued a permit to carry a concealed handgun.”
Goldberg feels as comfortable as one can on a public campus. “You have to be mindful of what’s going on around you but I don’t think there’s any way to stop it,” Goldberg said.
However, these folks are required to carry their permit and valid photo identification at all times when they have their gun in possession. If a member of the university suspects malintent, they are encouraged to immediately call the university police department.
Safety is a priority and students, staff, and faculty members with children worry about their kids’ safety and security at school, especially after the Columbine and Sandy Hook school shootings.
Around the US, school districts are starting to implement gun training for educators to defend their students in case such an attack occurs again. In Colorado, the law permits staff members to carry a concealed weapon on school grounds. This is a controversial ruling and many parents question whether having a weapon in the classroom is really the best route toward safety
“I don’t think it’s smart to be armed,” Goldberg, who is also a parent, said. “I don’t think teachers should be armed, I think we need school officers. Teachers aren’t trained the same way.”
Gun control is a divisive topic among politicians and though attention surrounding Las Vegas will eventually die down, this topic will always remain on the table.