California Shooting Incident Reignites Debate over U.S Gun LawsBy Staff Reporter, UniversityHerald Reporter
The 10-minute shooting rampage in Santa Barbara, California, Friday has once again raised questions regarding the decades-old gun laws in the country.
Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old mentally disturbed man, killed six people and injured 13 others before taking his own life. The former Santa Barbara City College student had a history of mental health issues and was seeing therapists since childhood.
Mass shootings are becoming a regular occurrence in America. Politicians' failure to end gun violence or modify the laws following incidents at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Tucson, Aurora, Newtown and Washington has angered the victims' families more.
The recent mass killing has also once again highlighted the complicated connection between mental illness and access to guns.
"What, what has changed? Have we learned nothing? Where the hell is the leadership," asked Richard Martinez - whose son Christopher, a University of California Santa Barbara college student, was shot by the young gunmen - told CNN. "My kid died because nobody responded to what happened at Sandy Hook."
The White House attempted to reduce gun violence by announcing nearly two dozen executive actions in 2013 that included enhanced training for first responders and federal mental health care assistance. The actions introduced immediately after Newton seemed to have done nothing to prevent gunfire incidents.
President Barack Obama has once again attempted to address the issue by proposing two major new regulations in January 2014. The regulations aim to toughen background checks to keep firearms away from mentally ill.
"The administration is committed to making sure that anyone who may pose a danger to themselves or others does not have access to a gun," the White House said in a statement. "The federal background check system is the most effective way to assure that such individuals are not able to purchase a firearm from a licensed gun dealer."
Constitutional law professor and Second Amendment expert Adam Winkler told CBS News that it is difficult to bring out a single proposal or a rule that would bar gun access to mentally ill people, thereby preventing such horrific killings.
"We've got to look at how we define mental illness, who is denied weapons and who is not, and focus the discussion," said Rep. Peter King, R-New York.