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Ryan: A call for increased gun control measures in face of Boston shootings

Dan Ryan, Guest Columnist

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Forgive me if this column is a bit disorganized. I didn’t sleep much before I wrote it. The news coming out of Massachusetts late Thursday night and early Friday morning was at once riveting and heartbreaking, and I spent most of the night reading updates on news outlets and Twitter, hoping for an end to the violence. So did you.

The story was that the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing shot and killed an officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before engaging police in a shootout in nearby Watertown.

As a country, we need to put an end to this. At the very least, we can take action.

I remember the exact moment when the news of the Newtown shooting surfaced. I was angry and disgusted. We had experienced so many instances of gun violence, and our government failed to take action. Members of the National Rifle Association demonstrated a new low in class, responding as if the only important thing to come out of Connecticut in December was a challenge to their gun rights.

This, however, is not written out of anger. Rather, this is written out of sadness and desperation. I cannot bear the thought of waking up on another morning and hearing of a shooting, of families destroyed and of innocent lives lost. These occurrences impact all Americans. Certainly there are many others who feel the same. I’ve reached my personal breaking point.

The disconnect between myself and those who so militantly cling to their guns is very clear: There are those who believe that having more guns on the street makes neighborhoods and families safer, and there are those who do not. I am one who does not.

Nothing could have prevented the MIT officer from losing his life to those two men except the suspects not having access to a gun. Nothing could have prevented the Sandy Hook shooting except Adam Lanza not having access to a gun. The story is the same for the Colorado theater shooting. NRA head Wayne LaPierre, as best as I can understand it, is willing to trade these lives for being able to look at a full gun rack in his home.

As Congress debates the issue, the question at hand is whether limiting the number of guns on the street and in the hands of dangerous individuals is worth inconveniencing a segment of our population. I’m referring to the introduction of new background checks, not breaking into your house and taking your gun, as the NRA would no doubt have you believe.

To put it simply, I would take on quite a number of inconveniences to my otherwise safe and happy life if it meant that even one wife, or father, or daughter didn’t have to deal with the pain of losing a loved one. I suppose my confusion arises when I see there are people whose actions lead me to believe they don’t feel the same.

I will confess that I want much more in the way of gun reform. I won’t back down from that position, as it’s one I firmly believe. But Congress just rejected legislation to expand background checks for gun purchases, and the NRA continues to rattle its sabers. In the background, more shootings happen, and more lives are lost. I will settle for almost any compromise to curb the violence, and, at this point, I would be happy with a bill including only increased background checks. This is not demanding or asking or hoping. This is begging.

I hope I speak for millions of other desperate Americans when I beg Congress to respond. I want the shootings to stop. I want the news reports to stop. I want the deaths and injuries and broken lives to stop.

So do you.

Dan Ryan is a Weinberg junior and Daily staffer. He can be reached at danielryan2014@u.northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, email a Letter to the Editor toforum@dailynorthwestern.com.

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