More shootings lead to questions

Destanie Martin-Johnson

Last week in Ottawa, Canada, a gunman — who allegedly is a recent Muslim convert with a history of criminal activity — shot and killed a soldier at the National War Memorial. Soon after, he was shot and killed in a parliament building, preventing any further murders. A few days later, a student opened fire at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Washington state, killing two people, including himself, and critically injuring four others.

The fact that these types of shootings continue to happen is infuriating. As U.S. citizens, we have the right to bear arms, which resists questioning. Canada, on the other hand, is one of only a few countries that are actively liberalizing their gun laws.

Last week, Gabrielle Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman who had to step down from her position when she was shot in the head during a speech in 2011, remarkably began a tour of nine different states to promote stricter gun restrictions. She’s pushing for more restrictions for convicted stalkers and domestic abusers, and also extended background checks for those wishing to purchase a gun.

Not all agree. The National Rifle Association’s chief, Wayne LaPierre, made several statements last year about mental health instability of the country being the cause of the shootings, not the accessibility of guns. He suggested that more “good guys with guns” would have helped, instead of stricter gun laws or background checks.

I agree with Giffords and believe that background checks for gun buyers would be most effective in helping avoid these types of mass killings, but there is no simple solution. It’s unclear in either case how the perpetrators acquired their weapons, and there is no evidence to suggest that either was mentally ill. Despite this, we should still discuss it. The violence needs to end.