Discussion of gun regulation brought by St. Paul shooting


Creative Common image from Flickr by Fibonacci Blue

On March 7 2018, students staged a school walkout in St. Paul, Minn. in order to advocate for stronger gun regulation. The walkout was referred to as “The March for our Lives”, and began a chain of protests in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

Tyler Quade, Business Editor and Copy Editor

Gun shots ring out, a stark contrast to the bright music playing over the speakers. Before you know it, you’re being pushed towards the exit against your will, shaky hands and shallow breath as you look at the sea of people. The music stops, and a shrieking silence fills the room.

This was the scenario that took place at the Seventh Street Truck Park on Oct. 10. Three men were arrested after injuring 14 and killing one. Those on the scene described the situation as “hellish”.

One week later, the Seventh Street Truck Park reopened and the world moved on.

Incidents such as these appear to be happening more and more frequently, a tragedy for something so avoidable. Because of the frequency of these homicides, many are accustomed to give their prayers before moving on to the next inevitable shooting. This desensitization of the masses is one of the reason change has not made it on to the agenda for many politicians, people move on too quickly and it hides the value of the lives that have been stolen.

“That never goes away for that direct family,” student resource officer Lindsay Paradise said. “I think a lot of it is media like ‘okay, all right, let’s move on to the next because there’s more stuff going on.'”

According to the gun violence archive, the number of deaths by gun in America has gone up from 12,418 in 2014 to 19,411 in 2020. The number of mass shootings has also risen from 269 to 611 in the same respective years. Growing nationalism is one theory as to why these statistics have escalated to such an extent, as well as life in a country where heroism has often been closely linked with force and violence. The glorification of violence, the sacrifice of oneself at the expense of others, has been one of the largest inspirations for firearm fanatics nationwide.

Community member Dave Oswald, who currently has a pending request for a firearm permit, said, “they want to have their assault rifle…and even though a lot of these guys are ex military, I still look at it as a lot of guys that just want to pretend they’re Navy SEALs. I don’t know what the deal is, but that scares me.”

A study by Science Daily found half of U.S. veterans own firearms, and one third keep a firearm loaded and open. This was typically justified as a precautionary measure, though many saw it as a danger to those already in a vulnerable population. Many veterans have avoided seeking mental help for fear of their guns being taken away, showing a clear link between mental health and lack of firearm safety. As veterans also have the highest rates of suicide by firearm, not nearly enough has been done to solve this issue.

While gun control was often a discussion on new legislature, mental health support would be one of the most effective preventative measures America could take. Something as simple as a mental health evaluation at the purchasing of a firearm could lower the rates at which that firearm is used for harm.

“I know that any time that they’re [firearms] brought out in the open, they tend to ramp up the situation as opposed to dissolve it,” Oswald said.

The second amendment, reading “a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” is one many held to be sacred to their personal freedoms. Not only does the United States not have a well regulated militia, the right of people to keep and bear arms has been infringed since the birth of the country.

From the regulation of public carry many colonies adopted after the American Revolution to the plain banishment of firearms on many premises in the “wild” west, infringement on the right to bear arms is nothing new. In 1783, a Massachusetts statute declared that “the depositing of loaded arms in the houses of the town of Boston, is dangerous”, and fined those who did not comply.

Graphic by Ava Stein

“You don’t need that [assault rifles, bump stocks, clips that can store up to 50 rounds] unless you’re in a well regulated militia. And if you’re going to be in a well regulated militia, keep those arms in an armory on your base or wherever your well regulated militia wants,” Oswald said.

The infringement on the right to bear arms is also seen in regulation of other modern armaments. There is a reason why machine guns are not seen being toted down the street- federal regulation. The issue on this topic is where to draw the line. Gun control is a discussion some claim to be a ‘slippery slope’, where if assault rifles are banned, we then have to look at pistols, hunting rifles, knives, and any other possible weapons. A problem with this argument is that mass shootings are often caused by assault rifles, not any of the latter. Pistols, hunting rifles, and knives all have potential uses outside of mass murder, whereas assault weapons only have one purpose.

Though mental health evaluations and the prohibition of assault weapons would be a good start, this issue will not be ending any time soon. They seem like simple fixes, however extensive lobbying, misinformation and unchecked senses of power can cause even the smallest of minorities to appear the loudest. Invalid arguments arise, unjust court rulings are given, and there are just as many people opposing them as there are supporting them. It is a many-sided issue, with causes and effects difficult to parse.

“I feel like having teachers or principal make a decision about how to handle it [armaments in school], like if we were to get metal detectors or have our backpack searched, that would create a whole bunch of new problems,” senior Rachel Palmer said. “I mean, kids bring things that they’re not supposed to to school, that’s just teenagers, but you never know when that thing’s going to be dangerous.”

There is a long way to go, but at the end of the day, research and combating ignorance are what propel change. In a country as diverse as America, something seeming as simple as public safety can be unraveled thread by thread to something far more complex.

Officer Paradise concludes by saying gun control is nothing that’s going to be ever over. She’s not sure if it’ll ever be solved, as things are always changing. Currently, it’s just a matter of how to adapt and keep others safe.

The safety of the public is, at the end of the day, the only thing a government should be concerned with. Whether it be by enforcing stricter gun control or by providing mental health support, it would be more beneficial than what is currently being done. The lack of gun regulation in the United States is an embarrassment, and the only way to stray from that is to change.