Second Amendment rights: Why can’t we find a middle ground?

By Jackson Gilbert

As I read the text from my father, I thought to myself, “I don’t want to do this again today.”

“10 dead, 20 wounded in a shooting at a college in Oregon,” the message said.

I packed up my bag and headed home from Oakland University to turn on the news networks. It’s what I do when these things happen.

It’s what I did in July 2012 when 12 patrons were executed at a movie theater in Colorado. It’s what I did on Dec. 14, 2012, when 20 children were slaughtered in Connecticut. And it’s what I’ve done pretty much every time something like this happens in America. Needless to say, I’ve been watching too much CNN over the last few years.

I hate it when this happens for obvious reasons. It happened at a community college — it could’ve just as easily been my own classroom that was hit. It could’ve been my friends.

I hate that I know the name of each of the mass shooters in this country, but I know very few of the names of the victims. This time is no different.

I hate that within a couple of days, I’ll be seeing people posting on social media about the conspiracy theories associated with this event. To suggest that these events are government-orchestrated to push our country towards gun legislation — well, I can’t even fathom how someone could make the statement.

Oh wait, yes I can. Because it happens every time. We’ve found out in the days since the Oregon shooting that the sheriff investigating the event posted on his social media about conspiracy theories involving Sandy Hook.

I’m hoping something happens in response to the Umpqua Community College shooting. The obsession with guns in the U.S. is disgusting to me.

They haven’t been a cool thing to me since I was in middle school. But part of growing up is developing an understanding of the consequences of our actions. My views changed.

We understand that automobiles cause a lot of deaths in this country so we make them safer. Sure, there’s always going to be an inherent risk every time you enter a vehicle, but the productive outcome is transportation. 

There’s an inherent risk, too, every time you pick up a gun. But what is the productive value in it? There isn’t any.

But since I know that some Americans will never give up their Second Amendment rights, I have to hope for something more reasonable. 

In 1996, 35 people were killed and 23 wounded on an Australian island by a man with a long record of mental illness and violent behavior. He used two semi-automatic rifles that had no business being in the hands of a man with his history.

Strict gun laws were enacted within months of the Port Arthur massacre in Australia. The gun deaths in Australia fell by about 50 percent immediately after the laws were enacted. It currently sits at about one death each year per 100,000 people from gun violence, according to the CDC.

The rate is 10 times as high in the United States. We have more guns than anyone.

There have been 297 incidents of four or more people being shot so far in our country this year.

I know that the Second Amendment exists although I sometimes question its relevance in the 21st century. My call to action is to both gun owners and to the government. 

First, I hope the government will take action to prevent the production and sale of semi-automatic and automatic weapons. They have no purpose besides killing. I also hope the government will create a transparent database of people who cannot legally own guns, similar to a sex offender registry – with people with violent backgrounds and obvious mental health red flags being on this list.

Secondly, I hope that our obsession with guns will subside. I hope that people will stop bragging about the fact that they own guns. It’s not something to be proud of. It’s a huge responsibility to own a gun and one that I hope will become much more difficult to achieve in the coming years.