Utne Blogs > Politics

Gun Control 101

by Staff


Tags: gun control, gun violence, school shootings, Virginia Tech, NIU, Northern Illinois University,

RiflesI’m typically not a paranoid person. I try to see the best in people. I’m a college student on a liberal campus in the heart of the Midwest.

But lately, there’s been a growing suspicion, a fear of the soft-spoken introverted guy in the same lecture as I am. School shootings have been a concern in the media for the past 10 years, but the issue has eluded thoughtful political discourse since the wake of the Columbine massacre. With two major shootings on college campuses in the past year, I am wondering: What will it take to make gun control an issue?

“Barack Obama offers hope and Hillary Clinton offers solutions, but they offer little of either on gun control,” Derrick Z. Jackson writes in the Boston Globe. Indeed, all that the candidates, including “straight talk” John McCain, seem to offer on gun violence are condolences. If a murder-suicide in a major university classroom doesn’t spark some debate, what will? Second Amendment preservation seems to stretch across party lines, with nobody willing to take a stand on tougher gun control laws.

In fact, it seems the opposite is occurring. Currently, 15 states are weighing bills to make it easier to carry guns on campuses, the New York Times reports. A main proponent of this movement is Arizona State Senator Karen S. Johnson, who says, “I feel like our kindergartners are sitting there like sitting ducks.” See, she felt the bill should cover all public schools, K-12.

Meanwhile, a “heavily-medicated” man who was institutionalized within the past ten years was able to legally purchase six weapons in Illinois. And the ammunition he used to kill five at Northern Illinois University? Purchased from the same website as the Virginia Tech killer.

So if I’m a little shifty-eyed in the lecture hall, please forgive me. Access to guns is as easy as ever, and with nobody willing to talk about it, I fear it’s only going to get worse.

Erik Helin