Gun control debate rages at South

Etta Harkness-Bartholdi, Staff Writer

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David didn’t answer his phone. Although David had always been fairly quiet and  closed off, he always picked up his phone or called people back right away.  Worried, David’s brother got in his car and drove four hours to a cookie cutter house in California where David lived alone.

“Everyone in the family had suspicions that he was depressed,” reflected Eva McCauley, junior and niece of David. “Struggling, he had been laid off from his job and he got some sort of severance package so he had a certain amount of money until the next job.”

Depression is hard to detect if a person does not go to a counselor or  admits it personally.

Although David’s family had suspicions,  it was never diagnosed.  David also had a drinking problem he never admitted,  but it was enough that his family took notice. Neither of these things got in the way of his ability to purchase  a gun.

Junior Alex Turner grew up hunting and using guns. He first went hunting with his father in sixth grade and since then has been on many excursions.

“In Minnesota, permits to own fully automatic weapons are virtually unattainable unless you are the owner of a licensed firearms dealer. If you want to hunt  and own a gun you have to go to firearm safety [class],” said Turner. “My whole dad’s side of the family owns guns, but because they all know  how to use guns they can use them safely. I know how to safely use a  gun because I was taught  to use one properly at such an early age.”

The process of buying a gun in the United States is fairly simple, and is described in the article “Buying your First Handgun” by Dick Clark; you choose a gun, you show a photo ID, you fill in a background form, and you wait three days for approval from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS.)

Junior Gabe Markworth also hunts, and said, “I think that there should be stricter mental illness background checks. The age limit should be increased more as well.”

David went through all of these steps, including a background check, yet was still able to buy a gun.

After a four hour car ride, David’s brother arrived at his house.  When  he wandered into David’s apartment he tripped over David’s body.  The family found three bottles of vodka and a note on his computer reminding David to  update his will, as well as the gun he used to kill himself.

“He also had a bad drinking problem. Not owning a gun could have saved him, because he drank so much he didn’t know what was happening. It was as if he was sleepwalking,” explained  McCauley.

Turner admits that it’s hard to tell who will use a gun properly and safely because, “the people who will use firearms unsafely look the same on paper as people who will use them safely.”

According to CNN only one percent of people who run through background checks to purchase guns are turned down.

The background check, according to  “The Instant Background Check for Gun Purchases” by Trent Sands,  includes convicted felons, history of mental illness or insanity, convictions of domestic abuse or assault, dishonorably discharged veterans, as well as immigration status.

“I think that gun ownership should be really highly regulated,” McCauley proclaimed,  “I do think it can help save other people from people and themselves. I think there should be more  testing for mental health for gun control.”

President Barack Obama has strongly argued for gun control and is pushing congress for a measure that will enforce more regulations besides just a background check.

According to NBC politics, one of the central proposals from Obama’s plan  is to renew the ban on assault weapons, this renewal of the ban would be a direct response to the Newtown shooting, where an automatic assault weapon was used.

The Newtown shooting is on the minds of many when gun control is discussed and has sparked debates about  the topic.

Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford, who was shot in 2011 outside of a supermarket, has been a strong, prominent voice in the  fight for gun control. She recently sparked much debate and action for her statements at  the Senate Judiciary Committee’s gun violence hearing

“Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something.” Giffords stated, “It will be hard but the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous.”

Gifford and Obama both believe that there should be stronger regulations on automatic and semi-automatic weapons.

McCauley agrees with the politicians, saying, “I don’t think people should have semi-automatics like Adam Lanza in the Newtown shooting.”

“Guns can be safe in your house,” said Turner, “you just have to  be smart about it. Guns are a tool like everything else. If handled with care [they] can be useful, but if not handled with care can be dangerous. My gun is in a locked container separate from my ammunition, which is also locked. Guns become a problem when they are easily available.”

Recent events in Minneapolis show that not all gun owners are as safety-conscious as Turner. On December 5, a 4- year old accidentally shot his 2-year old brother after finding a loaded handgun in the house.

The boy was killed in his Minneapolis home after his brother found their father’s gun. According to the Star Tribune, the boys father has pled guilty to negligence with a loaded gun within access of children.

“People always say guns don’t kill people; people kill people, and that’s not true,” stated McCauley. “If [Lanza] didn’t have that gun he wouldn’t have been able to kill all those kids. That’s not right, we need gun control.”

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