Gun control: parts of the problem

When the infamous Santa Monica College shooter John Zawahri attempted to buy a weapon in 2011, the California Department of Justice informed him that he was ineligible to purchase a firearm due to his admittance to the University of California, Los Angeles' Neuropsychiatric Institute in 2006. At this point, the state believed his admittance to a mental institution would prevent him from ever obtaining a firearm; however these restrictions did not interfere with purchasing separate parts of firearms to put together a fully functional rifle.

When the evidence of last June's shooting was compiled, it was certain that Zawahri’s AR-15 type rifle was composed of separately purchased parts.

Although assembling a semi-automatic rifle seems like a convoluted process, it is a simple process of which instructions are widely accessible on the Internet.

According to FishGame, assembling an AR-15 from the ground up is, “relatively simple” and is a way to get “exactly what you want."

One of the separately purchased gun parts by Zawahri was something known as a “lower receiver," a mechanism that holds the firing of a gun. According to state and federal law, this “lower receiver” is what classifies a firearm.

A way many people get around this part is by purchasing a partially completed lower receiver in which only a hole needs to be drilled into it to make the lower receiver functional.

Upon searching Zawahri’s house after the shooting, police found a drill press. It is believed that Zawahri used this drill press to modify a previously purchased partially completed lower receiver, into a functional part of an AR-15 rifle used in the rampage.

If California wants to see murder rates decline, stricter weapon and gun control needs to be put into law.

Aside from the SMC shooting, another shooting took place on Friday, May 23 when Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old Santa Barbara City College student fatally stabbed three as well as shooting and killing three innocent college students in the University of California, Santa Barbara adjacent city of Isla Vista.

Rodger legally purchased two firearms at a nearby gun store of which he used in the rampage. Although Rodger had intermittently been seeing psychologists for 14 years due to mental health issues, he still qualified to be able to purchase firearms.

In California, which is supposedly one of the strictest states on gun control, guns ranging from antique firearms, to semi-automatic rifles with large round capacity are completely legal to purchase if the buyer is over 18 years of age, has never been admitted to a mental institution, has never been convicted of a felony, and if he or she successfully passes a background check.

However, gun parts are completely legal to buy separately regardless of any of these restrictions. Being able to legally purchase gun parts that are easy to assemble and modify into fully functional firearms makes any other restrictions pointless. Regulations need to make it illegal for civilians to purchase any part of a gun.

Shortly after the Isla Vista rampage, victim Chris Martinez’s father grievously spoke at a press conference stating, “They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’ right to live?” Richard Martinez shouted, “When will this insanity stop? We don’t have to live like this.”

Since the right to bear arms is in our constitution and guns have been apart of American history, it is hard for many citizens to look past the fact that firearms cause more problems than they solve.

If our forefathers knew the capability that weapons hold today, the second amendment would likely have been written differently.

According to the National Institute of Justice, an average of 30 Americans are victim to firearms each day, compared to a country such as Japan where the homicide rate sits just under 50 deaths each year.

The United States could learn from Japan's strict firearm laws such as making it illegal to hold a handgun, possess unlicensed bullets, and actually fire a gun—which can land a person into a Japanese prison sentence for one to ten years.

It is ignorant to look past the outrageous homicide rate in this country compared to other highly developed countries. According to ABC news, “in the United States there are 10 gun-related deaths per 100,000 people” — more than any of the other 27 developed countries they studied.

The more the federal and state governments enforce strict gun control, the more likely Americans will be able to live a safe and fulfilling life. If stricter guns laws were previously put into act and purchasing guns or gun parts weren’t such a simple process in our society, the five lives taken by Zawahri and the six lives taken by Rodger could very well still be here today.