Lesson from campus shootings: Lax gun control root of problem

The tragic shooting at Northern Illinois University on Thursday that left five dead plus the shooter has instigated a new round in the campus concealed-weapon debate.

Just like after the Virginia Tech shooting last year, proponents of concealed weapons jumped onto the story as if it were a godsend. Donning the I-told-you-so attitude, they claim that had students been allowed to carry concealed weapons on NIU’s campus, the tragedy would not have happened. Therefore, they conclude, UK and other universities should allow students and faculty to carry concealed weapons legally on campus.

First of all, the notion that students should carry concealed weapons in class to stop campus shootings is ludicrous. It is the job of the police to protect us from these killers. And many of us would undoubtedly feel safer if the police, rather than gun-carrying students, were handling such a situation.

If anything, the NIU shooting only increased my confidence in the police’s ability to react to and manage school shootings quickly. According to a Friday article on CNN.com, the NIU police responded within seconds after the first shots were fired and placed the campus under “lockdown situation” four minutes later.

Anyone not buried under blind zeal for firearms can recognize from these mass shootings that guns, not firearm restrictions, are the root cause of the tragedies. More specifically, irresponsible federal and state gun-control regulations armed these killers to commit atrocious acts of murder.

Many proponents of gun rights fail to, or more often refuse to, realize that guns already cause too many deaths in this country, especially among our age group.

Firearms caused 21 percent of deaths among people in the 15 to 24 age group, only second to motor vehicle accidents, according to a 2002 report by National Center for Health Statistics.

Banning private ownership of guns would be too radical to be accepted at any level of the government, and it’s not necessary. For many Americans, owning guns for hunting, protection or the joy of collecting is deeply rooted in the culture, and that can be respected. Instead, we should look to tighten gun control to prevent potential criminals from accessing these weapons.

Loose regulations on firearms and even looser enforcement made these tragic shootings possible. Both shooters from the NIU and Virginia Tech shootings bought their weapons legally despite having histories of mental illness; not only that, they both purchased gun accessories online.

When people with alarming backgrounds can purchase murdering weapons legally at the click of a button, no one in this country should feel safe.

More importantly, because the weapons available to these criminals include multi-shot shotguns and handguns with high-capacity magazines, these killers were able to murder innocent people on a mass scale.

Shotguns with higher than two-round capacity should be outlawed in all of the United States. Such action may bring some minor hindrance to avid hunters, but it would eliminate a fearsome killing tool for the criminals.

Handguns are especially dangerous in the hands of criminals because they are easily concealed and have a high round capacity. Hunting and self-protection (with the exception of concealed-weapon carriers) don’t require a handgun, and frankly, I am willing to bet that most of the concealed-weapon carriers wanted the license not for self-protection, but for the self-sensed superiority from carrying a gun. Allowing handguns to flow loosely in the market only increases the dangers in our society. Therefore, regulations on handguns should be particularly strict.

Allowing guns on campus is not the answer to campus shootings — tightening gun control is. If the politicians can only look beyond campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association’s lobbyists, they’ll see that the reckless handling of gun control must be stopped.

Linsen Li is a history and journalism junior. E-mail [email protected]