Washington Navy Yard Massacre Was Avoidable

Aaron Pressman

Murdered: Kenneth Proctor, Frank Kohler, Vishnu Pandit, Mary Knight, Gerald Read, Kathy Gaarde, Martin Bodrog, Richard Ridgell, Arthur Daniels, Michael Arnold, Sylvia Frasier and John Johnson. Twelve innocent mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, aunts and uncles. Their lives have been taken.

I only have one question in response to the tragic Navy Yard shooting that shook the nation Monday morning. Congress, why do you keep al- lowing this to happen? Democrats and Republicans — quit yelling at each other and start doing your jobs. According to the FBI, there have been at least 17 mass shootings in the United States since the Sandy Hook massacre. Meanwhile, members of Congress have been too focused on their own political agendas to care about these unnecessary deaths and the constant fear these shootings have caused for the American public.

There is certainly the argument that there is no way to stop every single one of these tragedies from happening. After all, what law is going to stop a crazy person from getting his hands on a gun?

There is one basic answer to this question. How about a law that actually makes it illegal for a crazy person to get his hands on a gun? Aaron Alexis, the Navy Yard shooter — along with the culprits in many other recent mass shootings — was able to legally obtain his guns. Alexis had also received a security clearance from the Department of Defense, which gave him legal access to the Navy Yard on the morning of the shooting. And all this happened despite his known psychological problems. Less than two months prior to the shooting, Alexis called the police in a paranoid state, mistakenly thinking that he was hearing voices and that three men were trying to attack him. Between then and the shooting, he sought psychiatric treatment twice. Yet no one even hesitated to give him a gun and a key to a U.S. military base.

Current gun control laws in the United States are unacceptable. Background checks are severely insufficient and, in many states, those who would fail a background check can easily pick up a firearm at a gun show with few questions asked. Both parties in Congress need to realize that there is not one answer to the problem. There are many different approaches the United States can take to fix its broken system. A few basic principles should be followed when considering a course of action.

First of all, guns do not kill people, people do. This phrase is frequently used by members of the Republican Party and often dismissed by opposing Democrats. Both parties, however, need to take a moment and think about what this really means. It is incredibly rare to hear about

someone being killed by a gun without a person being the one to pull the trigger. A gun is merely a tool that culprits will use in their crimes. One crucial responsibility of Congress should be to stop gun violence at the source, by making sure that society produces as few murderers as possible. There need to be way more opportunities for low-income citizens with mental health issues to seek help and receive necessary treatment. A drastic reform of the justice system is also a must to treat convicts with mental issues, rather than throwing them into prisons and then releasing them back into society in an equally bad or worse mental state.

Unfortunately, even after reform in psychiatric care, there will still be some irresponsible or mentally unstable people who seek a firearm. There needs to be significant gun control reform to make it considerably more difficult for these people to obtain weapons. Waiting periods should be increased, background checks should be drastically more thorough and gun safety training should be required for those wishing to obtain a firearm. In all 50 states, drivers are required to carry a license, are required to register their vehicle and must pass a test to receive the privilege to drive. Guns, like cars, can be deadly weapons. The difference is that guns are designed to be deadly weapons in all cases, whereas cars are only deadly when used improperly. The fact that it is harder for many people to legally obtain and operate an automobile than a firearm is unacceptable.

With all this being said, the best way to stop a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun. Harsh gun control advocates, if you ever want to compromise, please start accepting this. Day after day, people try to deny this statement with no logic to support their argument. Nearly all mass shooters (with the exceptions of those who take their own lives) are stopped by a good person with a gun. Often these people are police, often they are security guards, often they are armed citizens. No matter who the person is, that hero uses a gun to stop the shooter. Seeing as police often take five minutes or more to respond to a crime scene, armed citizens are often the reason why there are not even more mass shootings than those that already occur.

Banning all guns is definitely not the answer to the problem in the same way that arming all citizens would be a terrible idea. Only through compromise by both parties in Congress will the number of mass shootings start to decline. The U.S. needs legislation that will arm good, mentally stable citizens who are responsible and trained with firearms, while disarming those who are irresponsible, mentally unstable and untrained.

Congress, this is in your hands. Put your personal and political agendas aside and do what is right for America: compromise.