September 16 was the scene of an all too familiar tragedy. Aaron Alexis, 34, rampaged through the Washington Navy Yard, killing twelve innocent people. However, gun control advocates, beware! This incident does not support your call for stronger restrictions on firearms. The Navy Yard shooting is a matter of responsibility, not control. Gun control arguments fall flat on three accounts regarding this incident.
First, gun-free zones are not safe. This particular shooting took place inside a secured perimeter of a U.S. Navy facility, one of the most gun-controlled environments conceivable. In theory, this was the ideal gun-controlled setting. It should be impossible to bring a gun past the checkpoint. What a remarkable coincidence that Alexis found a way around the security and was able to bring terror upon innocent people. This gun-free zone deprived honest citizens of their rights to defend themselves and left deadly weapons in the hands of a criminal. Even military personnel, who are trained in weaponry, could not defend themselves because of the gun-free zone regulation. Alexis carried a firearm into a gun free zone where no one could fight back. This is not a solution to gun crimes.
Second, assault weapons are not the only issue. Alexis killed 12 people with a handgun and shotgun, not a semi-automatic AR-15. Advocates for control focus much of their attention on banning the latter type of firearm. This argument is moot in this situation. Senator Feinstein’s Assault Weapons Ban, which calls for a stop in sale, transfer and importation of assault weapons, does not apply to this case. This case demonstrates that murderers and psychopaths will use any weapon available to carry out an attack whether it is a knife, shotgun or semi-automatic. Gun control is seeking the wrong bans.
Third, there is too low a bar to clear. Alexis had been arrested in Seattle, Atlanta and Fort Worth and had been honorably discharged from the Navy on accounts of insubordination and disorderly conduct. Yet, Alexis passed a background check and was able to buy a gun. In order to significantly reduce the gun violence that occurs across the United States it is imperative that there are stronger standards for legal gun ownership. It is a matter of limiting gun access to individuals who have a history of violence or mental instability. Currently, individuals who have numerous misdemeanors, including violence and firearm misuse, can legally arm themselves until their heart’s content. It is not certain that a stricter background check may have prevented this specific rampage. However, a higher universal standard would reduce the number of shootings that occur across the nation that do not receive the same national media attention.
Above are several responsible steps that can be taken to reduce gun violence without implementing gun control. Additional suggestions include focusing on mental health, stressing education and safety programs, limiting gun-free zones, stopping the glorification of violence and improving existing laws. In short, gun control trades liberty for factually challenged security.
Contact Kate Chenney at [email protected]