Halfway through my second semester at University of Georgia, the state legislature offered a bill allowing students and teachers to carry concealed guns on college campuses. The “campus-carry” bill was meant to offer protection for college co-eds, faculty and administrators. But many were concerned about the judgement and responsibility of students with concealed weapons and whether the measure could also potentially increase the likelihood of a violent shooting on campus.
My first thought when I heard about the bill was of the Virginia Tech massacre, and how a law like this could even be proposed after such a tragedy. That day in my political science class, my professor urged our class of 250 to sign a petition urging the Georgia Senate not to pass the bill. Although the professor is notably and admittedly liberal, he did state a fear that I found compelling: “If students were allowed to carry a concealed firearm, I would not be able to stand up here today and present to you my political views without the fear of being shot.”
Luckily, the bill did not pass. But after the Orlando shooting, I feel as if the fear of mass shootings is still more rampant than ever. And, according to The New York Post, most Americans (54%) feel the same. The Post article stated that an even smaller number—just 12% — oppose a measure that would prevent people on the government’s terrorist watch list from buying a gun.
And while there was a lot of expectation when the U.S. Senate took up four separate gun control measures in late June in the wake of the massacre in Orlando, each of those measures failed. Once again, our elected officials chose to not to represent U.S. citizens’ opinions when voting on stricter gun control laws.
The “terrorist firearms prevention act” would essentially prohibit anyone on the United States terrorist “watch list,” which is close to 2 million people, from buying a gun. The compromise went 0 for 4 in the senate.
There is a measure in the Senate called “No Fly, No Buy” that the Senate will be voting on within the next few days, which would keep guns out of the hands of 2,700 terrorists in the “no fly” list. One of the sponsors, Republican Jeff Flake, said “this is something that we can do and should so.” Another senator noted, “if people want to see an end to mass murders in this country, the American people need to step up and write or contact their congressmen.”
Summing it up, another legislator said, “There is frustration and anger about the inability of the Republican-led Congress to take common sense steps to help the American people and to even consider common sense gun safety legislation.”
Congressman John Lewis of Georgia led a 25-hour sit-in last week on the proposed law with 45 House Democrats. Lewis implored others to join his effort saying, “Rise up Democrats. Rise up Americans. This cannot stand.” He hoped that the House of Representatives would not adjourn for the summer without taking up a vote on gun control.
Those who oppose any common sense measures regarding gun ownership and access should ask themselves why some minor accommodations can’t be made that might save the lives of innocent Americans. After so many mass shootings, isn’t it time we agree to meet in the middle on this critical issue?