Chris Harper Mercer Reignites Contentious Gun Control Debate
After Chris Harper Mercer massacred 9 students before taking his own life at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, the debate over gun control has been thrown open once again in the United States, with predictable results.
In an interview with CNN, Mercer’s own father, Ian Mercer, questions how his son Chris could have gotten hold of such an arsenal of weapons.
“How on earth could he compile 13 guns? How could that happen? We talk about gun laws. We talk about gun control. Every time something like this happens, they talk about it and nothing gets done. I’m not trying to say that that’s to blame for what happened, but if Chris had not been able to get hold of 13 guns, this wouldn’t have happened.”
Chris Harper Mercer’s dad, himself, has no interest in guns and had never held or used one, he continued to say.
“I’m a great believer (in) you don’t buy guns, don’t buy guns, you don’t buy guns.”
However, when pressed about the mental state of his son, Chris, which is also a hot topic of concern when these massacres occur, Mercer had much less to say and will leave that up to investigators to determine.
“Obviously, somebody who goes and kills nine people has to have some kind of issue. Whatever it is, let the police determine what they find.”
This week, an obviously frustrated and angry President Obama spoke to the public after the Oregon shootings.
“The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. We’ve become numb to this.”
But, according to the CBC, despite the anger shown by many, including the President and Chris Harper Mercer’s own father, the chances of real change happening in the U.S. on the issue of gun control is low.
Why? Quite simply, the answer is the NRA and the Republicans. Both seem determined to make sure that gun control efforts that may have prevented Chris Harper Mercer from obtaining his weapons are squashed.
For example, after the Sandy Hook massacre that happened in 2012, where 20 children and six adults were slaughtered, the government attempted to pass legislation that would mandate background checks on all private gun sales. Also, it called for the outright banning of assault weapons with high-capacity magazines. This was met by condemnation by the NRA.
That effort failed when all Republican (except one) and 15 Democratic senators voted the bill down. And other, similar attempts to at least pass legislation mandating background checks have also failed.
As Gregg Lee Carter, professor of sociology and expert on the subject, points out, the political dynamics of the senate stands in the way of reform.
“The Republicans have significant majorities in both Houses of Congress and the Republican Party platform is clear and strong in defence of gun rights.”
Ultra conservative right wing media outlets, such as Breitbart, have upped their rhetoric, appealing to the fears of gun advocate groups with articles like “Obama Goes Beyond Mere Gun Control, Hints At Confiscation.”
“[H]e went beyond his usual calls for more gun control and suggested instead that America consider following the path blazed by Australia and Great Britain. In the mid-1990s Australia and Great Britain both instituted what were virtually complete bans on firearm possession.”
Former New York City mayor Rudy Giulliani also took a heavy swing at President Obama and his statements on gun control and Chris Harper Mercer, as reported by New York Times.
“I think the president has very little knowledge of what causes crime or how to reduce crime. The reality is gun control laws control the behavior of legitimate people. People who rob stores, people who rob banks and people who are insane and want to go ahead and murder don’t follow the gun control laws.”
What is clear is that, despite the anger that is being shown after Chris Harper Mercer killed so many in Roseburg, Oregon, and despite the calls for more gun controls, this is no easy task in a country that sees the right to bear arms as sacred, and where sentiments are so polarized. The question is, how many more Chris Harper Mercers are still out there?
[Header photo by Pixabay / flynn_chris]