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EDITORIAL: Necessity of active shooter drills unfortunate, but not permanent

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Rutgers University will hold an active shooter exercise on Saturday, according to The Daily Targum.

It truly is sad that we have to conduct these drills now. First, it is hard to not immediately draw a cognitive web between an active shooter drill and the commonplace fire drills we all underwent — or undergo — during our days in primary education. The implications are troubling, to say the least. 

Rarely are fires in public places, such as a school, intentional. The usual scenario is a kitchen slip-up or other accident that causes flames to engulf a school, also known as a mistake. It is uncontrollable, an inevitability that students should be prepared for because mistakes happen.

Mass shootings are certainly no accidents, and the fact that we now have students and others undergoing active shooter drills is depressing. The message that these drills — which, unfortunately, are quite necessary in this day and age — send is one of inevitability and lack of control. An implicit message is sent: “We have no power over whether these things happen, so we better be prepared in case they do.”

The startling fact is that we actually do have control — to an extent, obviously — over these things. We just choose not to enact that control. 

It is no secret that gun laws in this country are messy. Loopholes exist to curtail any serious gun legislation. New Jersey, for example, has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, but its neighbor, Pennsylvania, has weak laws in comparison.

The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, an organization with aims to reduce gun violence, grades each state on the severity of its gun laws from an F to A scale. The stricter the states’ gun laws are, the closer it gets to the A grade.

New Jersey, thankfully, has an A grade. That being said, it is essentially a consolation prize, with Pennsylvania having a C-plus grade. If someone was intent on committing an act of violence in New Jersey, they could easily obtain the necessary gun from a friend or relative living in Pennsylvania, rendering our strict laws moot by an irresponsible state legislature nearby. 

A common argument against common-sense gun control is that these depraved shooters would obtain guns regardless of what the law says. That is a weak argument for a couple of reasons.

“A vast majority of guns used in 19 recent mass shootings were bought legally and with a federal background check,” according to The New York Times. These criminals are using legal channels to obtain their weapons of choice, implying that they would likely face difficulty committing these acts of violence if more restrictions were in place.

Secondly, the argument that they would get their weapon of choice anyway fails simple logic. Should we also not have laws against murder or rape, since criminals would do it anyway? Should we not restrict narcotics or opioids, since people use them anyway? Why have any laws at all, if people are just going to break them?

There is also the issue of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guarantees Americans the ability to bear arms. Proponents of loose gun laws point to the amendment as confirmation that they have the right to own assault weapons.

The founding fathers of the United States intentionally wrote the amendments with a vague pen in order to allocate adaptability in our establishing doctrines. Nobody wants to strip Americans of all of their firearms. There certainly is a strong case to be made for allowing citizens the ability to own a handgun for self-defense purposes. 

That established, the Second Amendment does not protect our right to own any weapon under the sun. We cannot walk into a military base and purchase an army drone or nuclear weapons, can we? Nobody in their right mind would argue for those rights, since the potential for extreme damage would be exorbitant and unacceptable.

Now that we are seeing the destructive capabilities of assault weapons in full force, how can a logical person argue that they are okay to own without at least severe restrictions? They cannot.

Luckily for those of us in New Brunswick, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) is a proponent of stricter gun laws. There is still a lot of work to be done, but calling Pallone or your personal representative is key to getting that work done. Common sense gun legislation is just that: common sense. 

By putting pressure on our elected officials, who are designed to serve us, we can arrive at the change we need, and one day create a society that does not require active shooter drills.

The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority   of the 151st editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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