Anthony Michalisko

Recently, violent mass shootings have become more common. Sadly, people have decided to bring terror onto innocent people in horrible ways. There have been many different motives suggested in each case. Whether the motive is racial, religious or any other reason, there seems to be many similarities in most of these cases.

Illegal arms trade, mental illness and educating the public on what to do in an active shooter situation are things that we need to focus on rather than putting more control and regulations on law-abiding citizens. We also need to work on protecting vulnerable areas such as schools, malls, churches and other gun-free zones.

Here’s what it comes down to: you can put more laws in place to make it harder to purchase a weapon. You can also make it harder to receive a gun permit. But when a person sets their mind to a plan that will kill large numbers of people, they are not going to let a little red tape stop them from getting a weapon.

They will find any possible way of obtaining a mechanism to harm people, whether it be purchasing a gun illegally off the streets, making a homemade weapon or even resorting to simple weapons such as knives. We need to put a plan in place at the federal level that correlates with state and local law enforcement to get “dirty guns” off the streets and stop illegal arms trafficking. If you get these weapons off the streets, I feel crime will decrease dramatically.

When people talk about the issue of gun control, they seem to want to steer the conversation to regulation. I feel the largest overlooked subject in this country is mental illness and that it is the root problem in most of the mass shootings.

Mother Jones conducted a study that concluded that at least 38 out of 61 mass shooters in the past three decades “displayed signs of mental health problems prior to the killings.”

We have to address the elephant in the room and point out that anyone who is willing to kill innocent people is mentally ill and needs help. This will be the most difficult problem to fix.

You can’t really force people to get help. And because of HIPAA laws, doctors can’t release any information that will break the doctor-patient confidentiality law. A great way to start to fix the problem is to modify the HIPAA laws to allow doctors to report an at-risk patient to a federal database that can only be accessed for the purpose of federal background checks.

I feel that if there is a reason the federal government is doing a background check on you for a job or character reference, mental fitness is relevant. As I stated before, we can’t force people to reach out for help. I think the only thing we can do is develop programs to reach out to people who will accept help and treat the people who need treated.

The Department of Homeland Security has a saying: “See something, say something.” This saying can actually go farther than you think to make the environment you’re in safer. We cannot kid ourselves and think that the world we are living in is as safe as it once was.

We face numerous threats from all enemies, foreign and domestic. People always need to keep in the back of their minds what they would need to do in a dangerous situation. I’m not saying be scared every place you go, just be aware of your surroundings. And if you see suspicious activity, don’t be embarrassed to report it to the authorities. They would much rather come out for a false alarm than have a large-scale incident.

A report by the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) concluded 92 percent of mass public shootings between January 2009 and July 2014 occurred in gun-free zones. Our public schools have commonly hired off-duty police officers and our colleges have police departments, so why do they happen to be attacked the most? Some public schools have little to no armed security.

The high school I went to only had one off-duty police officer. If someone or a group of people wanted to do a great deal of harm, it wouldn’t take much time and there would be little to stopping it. Some schools have taken a different approach to make up for the lack of security.

Schools such as Granite School District in Colorado have allowed for their faculty who already have a concealed carry permit. Teachers are not required to tell anyone that they are carrying a handgun. The idea is that this may detour a would-be shooter because they won’t know who may be confronting them. The second advantage into arming staff is that if a suspect starts firing on victims, there is a chance the incident can be stopped sooner.

You can take this idea and apply it to a college setting. I can see both sides of allowing students to carry. Some students may be concerned of allowing any student to carry on campus. I agree with them to a certain extent, but if the faculty is allowed to carry, this may ease some of the worries. I would like to remind you that the program would be completely optional.

Even if you regulate weapons, people like me will still continue to jump through the hoops and still enjoy our guns. If these other problems are not addressed, we will continue to have these senseless killings. Obama really has me raving over purposely politicizing the recent shootings in Oregon for his personal political gains on gun control. The president always brings gun control up whenever there is a mass shooting but fails to say anything when over 50 people get shot in one weekend in Chicago.

In September, 60 people were murdered in the president’s hometown. The government needs to stop playing political games and be productive to make plan that is fair and will work.

Guns play an important part in many Americans’ lives, and you can never expect to change that. America needs to adapt to the time and the threats that we face today, but still maintain our Second Amendment rights.