Gun violence needs to face reform

Written By Jake Dabkowski, Editor-in-Chief

America has a gun problem. This is an undeniable fact. Anyone who attempts to deflect or deny this fact is part of the problem. We, as a society, must pass and enforce robust gun control legislation as fast as possible. We needed this legislation years ago, and every day we need it more than ever.


The shooting at Kennywood Park over the last weekend shows a horrifying truth: the problem is not just guns purchased legally, but the very existence of guns. More accurately, how commonplace guns are  in our communities.


As a former Kennywood employee, my heart goes out to anyone who was in the park when this happened. Gun violence has become so normalized in this country that often times when people hear on the news that no one was killed they instantly right it off as not being that bad.


But for everyone in the park, this shooting was a traumatic moment that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Being that close to the possibility of death is terrifying, and I am hopeful that Kennywood will bring in the proper resources to help their staff mentally recover from this event.


It is becoming genuinely alarming how many people I know who have been in either a situation involving gun violence, know someone who has been in a mass shooting, or have been in a lockdown triggered by the possibility of one. Last year I was in a lockdown situation, and while it was a false alarm the aftermath of “wow, that could’ve been really bad” was something that stuck with me.


Throughout my academic career there have even been multiple reports of shots being fired downtown near campus, as nearby as a block away. 


Over the past few years, America has taken a patchwork approach to addressing the gun crisis. Certain states have implemented various laws, but herein lies the issue – not only was the gun used in the Kennywood shooting stolen, it was stolen in Ohio.


It has become very apparent that gun control needs to be more robust than just background checks. The argument pro-gun people make towards most forms of gun control is that people can get guns illegally, but that argument is more of a better argument towards more gun control than it is towards less gun control.


In general, the arguments used by pro-gun people are frustrating. Often times they are condescending, and downright rude. Earlier in my academic career I argued with someone who was pro-gun about the gunshow loophole. I argued that Pennsylvania needed a universal background check system, and they called me an idiot and claimed that this existed. When I informed them about the gun show loophole, they attempted to argue that I was making it up. 


They also informed me that a family member of theirs owns dozens of unregisted firearms, which shocked me. The whole argument that gun owners cowardly hide behind is that “they are responsible” but oftentimes that is far from the case.


America must ban semi-automatic weapons. America must institute universal background checks and must confiscate all semi-automatic weapons not willingly given up. On the flip side, we must provide compensation for those willingly returning their weapons. Buy-back programs have become more common in the past few years and have been almost completely successful across the board. This way, people will not have the perception that their guns are being “taken away” but rather that they are being fairly compensated for a recalled product. If a car is recalled, the consumers are given refunds. Guns should be no different.


America has gun problem. It needs to be addressed. If you disagree then you are part of the problem. Full stop.