Gun control is way to stop school shootings

In the past two years, juvenile crime steadily declined. But recent school shootings have given legislators and psychologists new reasons to explore what drives children to kill. Since October, 14 teachers and students have been murdered and 23 were wounded by boys with firearms. President Clinton blames the entertainment industry for its violent movies and video games. Psychologists point to forces such as domestic violence, absentee parents, peer pressure and cases of conduct disorder. Regardless of what caused the shooting rampages, the underage killers’ access to guns played a major role in the tragedies. In reality, not all disturbed children can be saved or rehabilitated with education or firm discipline. Given that, increasing gun control is an effective way to deter children from manifesting their anger through mass murder.
The latest firearm murder by a juvenile occurred two weeks ago. Kipland Phillip Kinkel, 15 years old, used a .22-caliber rifle to kill two students and injure 23 at Thurston High School in Springfield, Ore. He is believed to have also fatally shot his parents the night before he opened fire in the school cafeteria. The incident was the sixth school shooting in eight months.
With fresh memories including the Jonesboro, Ark., killings last month, the school shootings in the 1997-98 academic year have boosted a national movement for more gun control. For instance, Clinton’s pending juvenile crime bill bans violent minors from owning guns for their entire lives. Gun control advocates have proposed bills that would mandate safety locks on guns and ban the sale of certain ammunition clips. And last month, Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., introduced the federal Child Access Prevention legislation. Under this bill, which has similar versions existing in 15 states, parents or legal guardians could be fined or imprisoned if their child uses a gun to murder or injure someone.
Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, insists that gun control advocates overlook media violence, the disintegration of families and other factors. To a great extent, he is correct. But given the limited time and resources, a society cannot rehabilitate or counsel every troubled child. While gun ownership may not cause violent juvenile crime, it clearly exacerbates the problem. Children today have greater access to firearms than they had 50 years ago. At the national level, the number of firearms in circulation has risen from 54 million in 1950 to 192 million today. Restricting access to guns will make it far more difficult for kids to kill.
Gun control critics point out that measures such as waiting periods, background checks and licensing of gun dealers do not prevent children from obtaining firearms. Yet this further demonstrates that the current gun control laws are grossly inadequate. While there are more productive solutions, including after-school programs and mental health counseling, it’s impossible for parents and teachers to save or restrain every troubled child. As such, they must work to restrict a child’s access to guns to every extent possible. Through their legislative efforts, Congress can help them do just that.