Restrict guns, save lives

Troy Wilkinson

Civilian shootings have been popping up more and more in the media. There were the larger shootings where more than several individuals were fatally shot, like the Tennessee shooting at a military base and the recent Oregon shooting at Umpqua Community College.

The number of mass shootings that have taken place in 2015 thus far can change depending on which definition you use. The FBI’s definition requires that “four people are murdered” for it to be a mass shooting, so by that definition there’d be about 18 or so mass shootings within 2015 according to USA Today. If we change the definition to “four people that are shot,” then the number skyrockets to 298. With a little more than one mass shooting a day so far this year, can we talk about guns again? Let’s not beat around the bush anymore, guns need to be taken down a notch.


Guns need to be restricted in both ease of acquisition and general possession. Handguns and rifles need to be heavily restricted and it should not be as easy as it currently is to acquire a gun.

To reinforce the fact that hundreds of people get shot every year let’s remember that there are smaller instances of gun violence not counted as a mass shooting by either definition. So on top of the 298 mass shootings there are tons of smaller ones like the two smaller shooting that took place last week — one at a school in Texas and another at Northern Arizona University, both on the same day in fact.

It’s not that those committing these crimes are getting their guns illegally, either. A majority of the guns obtained for these mass shootings are legally acquired.

The right to bear arms is well-ingrained in our society. Our society is far too relaxed when it comes to guns. Gun shows around the nation happen daily and commonplace gun stores show how obsessed Americans can be with guns. America has by far the highest rate of gun ownership in the world. It’s been with America since its inception, and the idea of guns being in our houses or in our pockets seems like a no-brainer to a lot of people. If you want protection, get weapons to protect yourself, right? 

What happens, though, when guns just aren’t protecting anyone anymore? Is it worth that individual freedom when hundreds of individuals die from civilian shootings annually?

Some who stand behind the right to bear arms argue that guns in those situations would have prevented them from happening, but there is no logic in that argument — good people already have the right to acquire guns and these shootings still take place. It’s rare that a civilian’s gun ever stops a shooting, and we’d save many more lives by heavily restricting or even making it illegal to ever acquire a gun for civilians.

Would non-gun related crimes rise, though? Maybe knife stabbings would be more prevalent? The fact of the matter is that mass killings by knife are much rarer than mass shootings. USA Today estimates that 77% of mass killings are committed with a gun. The large crimes would end, and that’s the important part. 

So taking down gun prevalence is the first step so that mass shootings can’t exist. That means making guns for the most part illegal.

Let’s be clear, though, that won’t remove crime in this country. A lower amount of guns doesn’t mean a lower amount of crime necessarily. Less guns mean less gun violence, which is essential to stopping mass shootings, but after we take away guns we need to focus on the roots of crime. USA today reports that “often a mass killing involves a failed safety net.” This problem of crime, like almost all societal problems, is heavily nuanced, but that shouldn’t divert attention away from how guns contribute to murder in America.

We must focus on all parts of the problem, but further restricting guns is the least we could do to stop this pattern of mass murder by the pull of a trigger. Let’s lay down our weapons and start focusing on saving lives.


Collegian Columnist Troy Wilkinson doesn’t trust trees, he thinks they look a bit too shady. He can be reached at or on Twitter @BluMitts.