by Maggie Cha
I recently came across an interesting article in the New York Times, “The Myth of the Autistic Shooter,” which was written in light of the recent school shooting in Oregon. The article brought up the interesting point that because the past two more heinous shootings in America, including the one in Oregon, were both caused by people who were allegedly on the autistic spectrum, Americans are automatically making the false assumption that autism lends to a predisposition for psychopathic brutality. Therefore, in the eyes of some Americans, the increase in the number of mass shootings in our country is not a problem with guns, but rather a problem with people. Considering the ever-growing debate over gun control, I hoped that by writing this article I could inform the HB community about a fundamental divide in our country’s values.
On October 1, 2015, Christopher Harper-Mercer, a 26-year-old student at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, shot and killed nine people and injured others. The victims were all students and professors at the school. According to CNN, this was the 15th time in Obama’s presidency where he has had to make a nationwide statement addressing a horrific mass shooting. In his latest statement, addressing the Oregon shooting, he solemnly exclaimed, “The reporting is routine… My response here at this podium ends up being routine, the conversation in the aftermath of it. We’ve become numb to this.” This statement resonated powerfully with me because I too feel like I have become numb to the reports of the shootings. I feel like I hear about one on the news almost every week. In fact, the person who told me about the Oregon shooting at field hockey practice even phrased it as, “There’s been another school shooting in Oregon.”
Last year I thought that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut would be the last straw. I thought, how sad that it is going to take a tragic shooting like this for Congress to finally increase gun control. But I was wrong. A year has gone by and I am still writing this article. So I, and many other Americans, continue to ask, what is it going to take? Who is it going to take?
This entire debate stems from the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights that 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.” People today still hang onto this idea that all citizens should have the right to own a gun in order to protect himself or herself from the government, in case the government tries to take advantage of the people. In my opinion, this right is outdated and only serves the purpose of making it easy for unqualified and unstable people to own a weapon. According to BBC, then number of gun inflicted murders in the US in 2012, the most recent time that a census has been collected, was 30 times greater than that of the UK. Despite these statistics, the government continues to poor billions of dollars into defense against terrorism, which has only accounted for 3,380 American deaths since 2001, whereas gun violence accounted for 406,496 American deaths.
I look at these statistics and I am dumbfounded. The answer seems so clear to me – just get rid of the guns! If Christopher Harper-Mercer did not have access to the gun, whether he was autistic or not, then I most likely would not be writing this article. People are afraid of the government coming after them once they are “unprepared”, but why aren’t they afraid of all the inexperienced and unqualified people out there with guns right now? I’m not saying that we should all board up our doors and keep an eye on our neighbors, but seriously, what is it going to take? Who is it going to take for change to happen?