Editorial: Gun Control


Magali Sanchez

Guns should only be issued if they pass the psychological exam.


The recent school shooting at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino, California that left three people dead, was a terrifying event for students, parents, and teachers everywhere.

A 53 year-old man went to his wife’s Special Ed classroom and shot her and two of her students before shooting and killing himself. One of the students who was shot, 8 year-old Jonathan Martinez, died on the way to the hospital.

When we think about fatal school shootings like this that have been happening frequently over the last few years, we ask ourselves how a person could do such a thing; what motivated them to take a gun and go out and bring harm to others or themselves? Most importantly, however, we ask how it is that such a mentally unstable person obtained a firearm in the first place. How is it that a government authority deemed that person capable of owning and safely operating firearms?

In order to obtain a firearm in California, one must meet eligibility requirements by California state law, obtain a firearm safety certificate, and perform a safe handling demonstration of the firearm they seek to purchase. The minimum age to obtain a rifle or shotgun is 18, and for a handgun, the minimum age is 21.

Nationally, there is no psychological screening required at the time of purchasing a gun to determine how mentally fit someone is to own or safely operate a gun. There are federal and state laws that prevent anyone on a national list of certain people with mental illnesses from buying a gun. However, it is possible for someone who was not originally mentally ill to become ill, and not every single mentally ill person is registered on the national list. The laws that determine whether someone is too mentally ill to own a gun vary state by state as well. While states such as California have expansive measures about the mentally ill owning guns, states such as Arizona have very limited ones. That is a serious problem. The federal government needs to make absolutely sure that when gun vendors are putting a deadly weapon in the hands of someone, that person isn’t going to bring harm to themselves or those around them.

Some may say that adding psychological screening to the process of gun ownership would make it far too complicated to obtain a gun. Even if it does complicate the process, what is more important: the life of an innocent 8 year-old boy, or the accessibility of firearms? It is truly shocking to see that some people would rather have simpler gun ownership processes than ensure the safety of everyone including those who own guns. ­­

Even if one is not mentally ill, but lives with someone who is, or for some other reason is not eligible to own a gun, that person should not be permitted to own a gun either. Owning a gun and living with someone who is not fit to own one gives that person access to a gun, which is extraordinarily dangerous.

It is unfair to everyone not to include psychological screening. It is so easy to obtain the necessary qualifications to own a gun that a textbook psychopath could obtain one without batting an eye. Such a thing is not safe, and it is not smart in the slightest.             The sheer number of shootings speaks to that sentiment.

Just in the month of April, there have been approximately 28 shootings across the country in which 105 people were injured and 24 were killed in total. (gunviolencearchive.org). That doesn’t even take into account shootings from previous months, and that number increases, unfortunately, every few days.

This shows that gun control laws are not working the way they should be working, and that something needs to change, and we believe that the necessary change is to include psychological screening and intensive background checks into the process of gun ownership.

Approximately 90 Americans are shot and killed according to gun control activist Richard Martinez in an article published by the Los Angeles Times on April 12.

However, the issue does not stop at mental illness. Domestic abusers, or someone that has experienced family violence carry out more than half of all mass shootings. It is because of that that it is in no way surprising that America has the highest rate of gun violence against women compared to other 1st world countries.

According to smartgunlaws.org, people who have been convicted of violent or gun related misdemeanors are prohibited from owning a gun. However, convicted domestic abusers can obtain guns, including the man responsible for the shooting of North Park Elementary school. Why aren’t the gun laws in place being enforced?

We acknowledge that many people want guns for sport such as hunting or for self defense purposes, but the solution to the problem may not necessarily be to make guns completely illegal. It’s because of that that it’s imperative to take every sensible measure to make sure that guns can exist in the US safely.