Gun Politics and Safety in the United States

With the recent shooting tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut we wanted to take a look at gun politics in the United States and share information regarding safety. We would also like to hear your feedback.

Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting-Newton, Connecticut

On Friday, December 14, 2012 a gunman named Adam Lanza forced himself in Sandy Hook Elementary School. He killed 20 children and six adults and then he killed himself. Adam’s mother was also found dead at their home.

View a bio for each victim here

This year has been a particularly unfortunate year in the United States when it comes to mass shootings.  Some include:

Graphic provided by the Washington Post
Graphic provided by the Washington Post. U.S. mass shootings in 2012.

February 27: In Chardon, Ohio T.J. Lane, 17, walked into the Chardon High School cafeteria and fired 10 shots at four students.

April 2: Former nursing student, One L. Goh, 43, in Oakland, California returned to Oikos University, forced himself into a nursing classroom, lined up students against a wall, and shot each of them. Seven were killed, three injured.

July 20: James Eagan Holmes, 20, walked into a mall movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado during the midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises”. He set off gas canisters and opened fire. 12 were killed and 58 injured.

Gun Politics in the United States

Gun control has always been a very controversial issue in the United States. No matter how many times the issue is discussed, nothing changes. The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution states:

[quote]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.[/quote]

As you can see, this can be interpreted in many ways. This amendment was written during the country’s early history involving the American Revolutionary War. “Militia” was not part of the army. These men were ordinary farmers who used their own weapons for protection during the war. They received no funding from the government. They were “armed citizens”. Obviously, the idea of the militia has died out, but many Americans continue to believe in the Second Amendment.

In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to own firearms for the purposes of self-defense within the home.

Regional Divides

Generally speaking, the country is divided when it comes to having more gun control or supporting gun rights. More likely, the northeastern part of the United States favor gun control, such as New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Illinois. The northwest, that includes Montana, Idaho, and Washington; the “Deep South” which includes Alabama, Georgia, and Florida; and the Southwest, which includes Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, and Utah support gun rights.

Feeling Safe in the United States

Gun control may be a political issue, but there is one thing we know: no matter what we do we just can’t prevent everything tragic from happening. There are just some things we can’t predict. However, there are several proactive things we can do to protect ourselves. A.L.I.C.E. Training I have been through A.L.I.C.E. training. This means: Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. This prepares anyone who might find themselves facing extreme danger, such as an active shooter. Watch this video to see how the police and students use A.L.I.C.E. at the University of Akron in Ohio.

As you can see, this is a proactive approach in surviving a dangerous situation, rather than sitting under a desk and waiting to see what happens. If you would like to go through A.L.I.C.E training, check out the training calendar and see if there are any training sessions near you.

If you can’t attend an A.L.I.C.E. training session, there are a couple of things you can do on your own:

1. Make sure you have the police department’s phone number saved on your cell phone.

2. Does your university have an emergency text messaging system? Sign up to receive emergency text messages.

3. Most universities in the U.S., it’s illegal to have a weapon on campus. If you see anyone with a gun, call the police department.

4. If you work at an office, have an exit strategy if an emergency would happen. How would you leave the building? If you have to protect yourself, do you have something in your office that could be a weapon?

We don’t like to think about things like this, but I believe if we are proactive in our safety measures then we have a better chance in surviving.

What are your thoughts about the recent shooting in Newtown?

What are your thoughts about gun control/gun safety in the United States?

I would like to hear. Please comment below or on Facebook.

This article was written by Carrie Circosta, Editor in Chief for International Student Voice Magazine. 

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