There is no more definitive a way to end the beauty of a human life than simply squeezing a trigger. For 25-year-old Kimveer Gill, this rang especially true as he extinguished the life of a fellow student during the Dawson College shooting on Sept. 13. Located in beautiful downtown Montreal, Dawson College boasts 7,000 day students and 3,000 night students. Many spent the following day not just in shock, but mourning as well.
When Gill, the sole perpetrator of the senseless crime, arrived on campus the day of the shooting, he was dressed in the Columbine-like black trench coat. After wounding 19 students and killing one, he proceeded to take his own life. The finality and speed with which this all occurred only serves to exaggerate the powerful danger of a firearm. In today's climate of seemingly random terror alerts and the arbitrary confiscation of lip gloss at airport security throughout the nation, one must pose the question: Who is the enemy? Prominent politicians of today will point their fingers toward the Middle East, yet it is the concerned citizen who should point his fingers toward these exact lawmakers.
On Feb. 1, 2006, Senate Bill 403, a bill pushing for the right to carry a concealed weapon with a permit in Wisconsin, fell two votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for approval. Don't breathe a sigh of relief just yet. Wisconsin's current gun laws are laced with so many inadequacies, they question the upkeep of public safety. In 2004, there were 154 recorded cases of homicide in the state of Wisconsin, 99 of these murders involved the use of a firearm. The only surprising part of this statistic is that guns didn't account for more of these murders.
It would be an understatement to call Wisconsin's gun laws "lenient." The State of Wisconsin does not require a permit or a license to purchase a gun. In fact, the only time that an interested gun shopper need bother with Johnny Law is if he or she buys a firearm from a federally licensed salesman. For the unfortunate soul who chooses to purchase his or her top-of-the-line hand cannon from the feds, he or she must wait 48 hours and succumb to a background check. However, an informed buyer knows that the easiest way to acquire any sort of gun, be it a shotgun, handgun, rifle or assault rifle, is to attend the nearest gun show. Gun shows function on what is deemed a "cash-and-carry" policy, basically meaning if you have the money, you can get the guns. Gun shows require no form of permit or license, and are convenient for the sadistically insane, as salesmen operating at gun shows do not need to perform a background check of the buyer. Perhaps instead of wasting time cavity-searching the token grandma in airports just so the bleeding hearts don't cry "racial profiling," we should be addressing the fact that in many states one is not even required to register his arsenal of weapons with the police. The idea that any chump with money is his wallet can go out and buy a gun at the drop of a hat frightens me more than anything occurring outside our borders.
My criticism of Wisconsin's gun laws is not made to nullify the validity of the constitution's second amendment. The second amendment, however, was not made so the trigger-happy gun enthusiasts of America could gleefully tote their guns. This amendment was put in place to give Americans the right to protect their families. Yet, if we had tighter gun control throughout the nation, would we be so worried about protecting ourselves from the gun–toting burglar?
Even as this very article goes to print, another tragedy has taken place and another family is grieving over a lost loved one. In Cazenovia, Wis., a rural town roughly an hour-and-a-half outside Madison, a 15-year-old student shot and killed his high school principal. Crimes are committed with guns daily, and it is time for this nation to make a change. Gun control is an issue that should not just be left on the back burner; it is just as pressing a topic as global warming, or even the war on terror. Stricter gun laws are a must, not just in Wisconsin, but all over the country.
Max Schlusselberg ([email protected]) is a freshman majoring in journalism.