Mass shootings heighten debate on gun control

Jessica Hubble | Multimedia Journalist

By Julia Vergara | Staff Writer

A gunman opened fire into a crowd of people attending a performance by country musician Jason Aldean on Oct. 1, resulting in the death of 59 and injuring over 500 — Making the Las Vegas shooting the deadliest in modern U.S. history.

On Nov. 5, a gunman opened fire at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, resulting in the death of 26 and injuring about 20 others, making the Sutherland Springs shooting the deadliest in modern Texas history.

These two deadly shootings of 2017 disrupted the nation and heightened the debate over gun control.

Following the Las Vegas shooting, Hillary Clinton took to Twitter to voice her opinion and said, “Our grief isn’t enough. We can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA, and work together to try to stop this from happening again.”

After the Sutherland Springs shooting, US Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) released a statement that said, “As long as our nation chooses to flood the county with dangerous weapons and consciously let those weapons fall into the hands of dangerous people, these killings will not abate.”

However, when questioned by a reporter if he would consider “extreme vetting for people trying to buy a gun” during a press release, US President Donald J. Trump said that it would not have made a difference and could have caused even more deaths in the Sutherland Springs shooting.

“You might not have had that very brave person who happened to have a gun or a rifle in his truck go out and shoot him and hit him and neutralize him,” Trump said to the reporter. “And I can only say this — if he didn’t have a gun, instead of having 26 dead, you would have had hundreds more dead.”

The recent mass shooting have not only increased gun control debates on a national level, but also increased debates locally on Baylor’s campus.

Austin sophomore Jake Bridges, President of Baylor Democrats said that unfortunately, he is not surprised by the recent mass shootings because the U.S. has seen so many of them.

“I’m really just disappointed with people’s inaction at this point,” Bridges said. “I think we can do a lot better as a country.”

Although he believes something should be done regarding gun control laws, Bridges said he believes that it is not feasible to take away the guns that citizens already own because he does not believe it would not hold up constitutionally. Instead, Bridges wants to look at what solutions can be done without violating anybody’s rights.

Bridges said not looking to get rid of citizens’ Second Amendment rights, but he does believe it should be restricted.

Bridges said he personally believes the selling of assault rifles should end because they are not needed for self-defense or hunting.

“Even a less extreme measure would just be stronger background checks,” Bridges said. “Just make sure people who are buying weapons, especially higher caliber ones, are properly vetted.”

Portland, Ore. senior Eric Soo, chairman for Baylor College Republicans and member of the College Republicans State Board of Texas, said the individuals responsible for the mass shootings would have been able to get their hands on guns whether or not there were stricter gun laws in place.

“Even if we completely ban the sale of guns, there’s so many that it will be incredibly easy to get them,” Soo said.

The outlawing of guns is comparable to the outlawing of marijuana and other illegal drugs, Soo said. For decades, certain drugs have been outlawed, but people are still able to go out on the street and obtain them.

Soo said the gunman in the Sutherland Springs shooting was able to obtain a gun even though he should not have been able to, which means the background checks and gun law restrictions that are already in place failed.

“There’s always going to be people who fall through the cracks,” Soo said.”If you want something bad enough, it’ll happen.”

Soo said guns are also necessary for a citizen to protect oneself and that a lot of individuals forget that the man responsible for the Sutherland Springs shooting was stopped by citizens who had carried guns.

“It’s a tool that can be used responsibly or not responsibly,” Soo said. “It’s the person behind the tool that should be held responsible, not the tool itself.”

While Soo said he believes the majority of citizens are firm believers in the Second Amendment rights, Bridges said he believes the majority of citizens are for stricter gun laws.

According to a national survey by the Pew Research Center, in Aug. 2016, the public was divided over which is more important: to protect American citizens’ right to own guns (52 percent) or to control gun ownership (46 percent).

Soo said that it’s not that Republicans don’t believe in gun control, it’s that there is a “slippery slope” from banning one part to banning another and he does not want the government to incrementally take away citizens’ freedom of the Second Amendment.

Bridges said he hopes to see people — especially those on the right — offer a solution that they would support.

“This seems to be people on the left side come up with something and then they will just shoot it down,” Bridges said. “So I would like to see Republicans come up with some sort of legislation that they would support to stop tragedies and then it can be worked out in a more bipartisan way.”