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Sainati: Fighting guns with guns is not only dangerous, but inherently reactive

Leo Sainati, Assistant Opinion Editor

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It seems that after every mass shooting, amid the mourning and grief, calls for stricter gun control are countered with the firm belief that more guns correlates with safety.

After the 2012 shooting that killed 20 children and seven adults in Newtown, Connecticut, the National Rifle Association responded by calling for armed guards and teachers in schools across the nation under the belief that the presence of guns can act as a deterrent to gun-related deaths. While mass shootings are given more weight in the news cycle, the same logic is used to combat gun violence no matter the casualty rate.

This reasoning is deeply flawed, motivated by capitalist gain and dangerous in its reactive nature.

The evidence is there: more guns are correlated with more gun-related deaths. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that the biggest predictor of gun-violence is gun ownership. Additionally, a report from the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan think tank, found that the United States had by far the highest amount of firearms per 100 people: 88.8, with the next closest being Norway and Canada with 31.3 and 30.8, respectively. Yet none of these facts are new; there is an abundance of evidence against gun ownership, none of which seems to carry any weight legislatively.

The argument for arming teachers in schools has never quite made sense to me. Rather than look to the intrinsic problems with U.S. gun laws that allow guns to be bought and sold with weak oversight and restrictions, proponents of arming school faculty look to stop an active shooter who has already exploited these shortcomings. This appalling abandonment of reason reminds me of Richard Nixon’s War on Drugs, which sought to crack down on drug crime punishment rather than examine the causes for its abundance.

Could the Las Vegas shooting have been stopped if more people were armed and all started shooting wildly at the Mandalay Bay hotel? Statements from the NRA that encourage a reactive approach to gun reform are dangerous and misleading. Could the eight school shootings that CNN reports have happened since Jan. 1 have been stopped if faculty were armed? That question is harder to answer, but the fact that proponents of guns in schools are willing to take the chance is deeply concerning.

We need to confront the fact that our fetish for guns stems from a love of power and an ignorance of the harm it causes. Naturally, an organization like the NRA has a vested interest in increasing gun purchases, so “fighting fire with fire” is perfect for its corporate goals.

For every “guns don’t kill people, people do” comment you see, or every call to arm teachers and administrators you hear, recognize that these are based on flawed logic and rest upon an underlying lust for guns and the power and control they bring. These ideas are inherently reactive and contribute nothing to preventing America’s gun problem and the tragedies it brings.

Leo Sainati is a SESP freshman. He can be contacted at If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.