Smart guns, safety classes needed for firearms owners

illustration by Christina Riddle

Mikaela Reinard, Contributing Columnist

illustration by Christina Riddle
illustration by Christina Riddle

It is no secret that our state was struck by a terrible event when two journalists for WDBJ were shot while on air about 35 miles from Roanoke at Bridgewater Plaza in Franklin County. The perpetrator of this violent crime, Vester Flanagan (on-air name was Bryce Williams during his time at WDBJ), posted a video of his malicious act on Facebook. In the video, Alison Parker was seen being targeted, and ultimately shot.

The news story on how two innocent people had their lives taken away joined the myriad of stories since August of last year, starting with the Michael Brown case. Over the past 12 months, our nation has focused its attention on the issues of gun control and violence in America, but often, the issue gets dropped until another unfortunate event strikes American citizens and the headlines get printed in the next paper.

Currently, a majority of Americans are stressing the fact that the process of acquiring a gun needs to be reformed. While I agree with this, I disagree with their suggested reform strategies. Most of the people on the frontline of this debate are stressing that we need to add more paperwork to the background check process. I disagree.

The process of acquiring a gun is largely dedicated to the background check process and adding even more provisions that need to be inspected won’t drastically change the amount of people able to obtain a gun. The ability to obtain a gun unlawfully and be able to use the gun because there are currently no safety requirements implemented seems to be the biggest issue.

The Washington Post investigated 43 shootings that took place between January 2009 and January 2013. Out of those 43 shootings, there was enough evidence in 29 of those incidents to determine whether or not the gunman was prohibited from holding a gun. From those 29, they found that 11 (38 percent) of those incidents did in fact involve a gunman who was not allowed, by law, to possess a gun. Ultimately, I believe there needs to be two main reforms in order to make our increasingly  violent society safe again.

I believe that all citizens  should be allowed to purchase a firearm, since our second Amendment is the “right to bear arms;” however, if the citizen is not a government official, then they must equip themselves with a smart gun, which only fires when activated by an authorized user, such as the Armatix iP1. It currently sells for just short of $1,400.  This would exponentially decrease the possibility of shootings happening where the gunman acquires a firearm that is not lawfully theirs. For example the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012.

Secondly, there needs to be mandatory classes for anyone wishing to arm themselves. These classes would teach novice gun-holders the responsibility that comes with owning a firearm, as well as the true power a gun possesses. This would give people a deeper understanding of what a firearm actually is, rather than just looking at it as a weapon that you can so easily play with on games such as Call of Duty and watch in movies such as Casino Royale.

Obviously, we will never be able to strike out every single possibility of disturbing acts or murders taking place in our country, but in the end there are more innocent people than there are perpetrators. If the American people want to see changes in how violent our society is becoming then we have to take a firm stance, address it and stress it until some sort of resolution is reached that will allow us to sleep easy at night.

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