Shootings illustrate need for increased gun control

After a congresswoman and 19 others were shot, six fatally, in Tucson earlier this month, it became painfully obvious that the U.S. is in dire need of stronger gun control laws.

Apart from this most recent incident, there are many examples of gunmen opening fire in seemingly safe locations like schools, colleges and hospitals. Just one such incident should provide enough justification to tighten laws.

According to a poll conducted by CNN earlier this month, more than nine in 10 Americans support background checks for felony convictions, and six in 10 support a ban on semi-automatic assault guns. Also, 55 percent of those surveyed favor limiting gun purchases to one per month.

Nonetheless, it is still possible to purchase a firearm without a background check at many of the nation’s gun shows.

Some Florida lawmakers would like fewer government restrictions and want to pass a bill that allows legal gun owners to carry firearms openly, even on college campuses.State Rep. Ari Porth, a Ft. Lauderdale Democrat, said to the St. Petersburg Times, “The gun lobby has a stranglehold on Tallahassee.”

Though Republicans may believe that outlawing guns would only prevent innocent people from protecting themselves against criminals, action must be taken to make the weapons harder to obtain. Not all shootings are committed by criminals, or even people who could be considered dangerous.

Florida legislators have filed for three separate bills that would limit local governments from regulating firearms, stop doctors from even asking about guns in the home and grant gun owners the ability to wear their firearms outside of their clothing.

Florida alone is home to more than 2 million citizens with concealed weapons permits, according to Fox 13 News. The stakes are high.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has successfully taken on the business lobby and law enforcement agencies in Florida since 2004, according to the Miami Herald. Police can no longer track gun purchases at pawnshops, adoption agencies can’t ask about guns in the home and gun owners can bring guns to work if they leave them in the car.

Proponents of the NRA may justify these loose laws using the Second Amendment, which states, “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.”

But even though America’s founders explicitly granted citizens the right to bear arms, they did not say that the government should be banned from regulating them, that even the mentally ill could own them or that the police could not monitor them.

These scenarios have been wrapped up like candy by some of our nation’s dearest politicians under the guise that they are only following the Constitution.

Zahira Babwani is a senior majoring in biomedical sciences.