BY DANIEL ENG
A tragedy unfolded on Monday, Sept. 16 when a gunman shot and killed 12 people at the Washington D.C. Navy Yard.
The shooter was later identified as former Navy reservist and contractor Aaron Alexis according to the FBI. At 8:23 a.m. police received a call reporting the sound of gunshots on the grounds of the Navy Yard. First District police and members of the Special Operations Division were directed to Building #197, where after searching for victims and suspect(s) they came under fire from Alexis.
After firing multiple rounds upon the police, Alexis was shot to death by officers, according to a Metropolitan Police Department press release. The case is still under investigation by the FBI with the assistance of the department’s Homicide Branch and Crime Scene Investigation Division.
After a year that brought Americans such horrific shootings like those in Aurora, Colo. and Newtown, Conn., the Navy Yard is sure to be yet another grim reminder that the gun control debate is as relevant a dialogue as it ever has been.
County College of Morris students are already fiercely debating the issue.
Constantine Shevchuk, a CCM student, felt that the shooting serves as a severe example of what our culture of violence can produce and the consequences of lenient gun control.
“I think people are sensitive on gun control but the government needs to understand that when people are given an inch, they take a mile,” Shevchuk said. “There should be stricter checks on all gun buyers.”
“I thought it was horrible that Navy personnel didn’t have the guns to defend themselves,” said Keith Miller, a business administration major. “I feel there should have been more security in the yard.”
Christian Lyman, a former Navy serviceman and CCM student, said that Navy Yard security could not have stopped Alexis, and that stricter gun control laws would not have necessarily changed things.
“I don’t feel it’s accurate that Navy Yard security could have prevented this shooting,” Lyman said. “It isn’t a combat zone, there are only guards at their posts. When you have someone who is willing to die, it’s tough to stop.”
As of April 2013, just four months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, less than 50 percent of Americans supported Congress passing a stricter gun control law, according to a poll in USA Today.
Bryan Weathers, a business administration major at CCM, said he supports limited gun control and stricter screens on gun buyers, though he opposes gun bans.
“After my initial emotional reaction I wondered how long it would take for the gun control debate to kick back up,” Weathers said. “I’m a conservative, though I look at every side. I’m in favor of limited gun control but when you look at the shooting in Connecticut where an AR-15 was used, then at this . . . involving a shotgun, stricter gun control bans wouldn’t have stopped it.”
Malcolm Dobson, another CCM student, was also focused on the issue of the individual and the cracks in gun control for shooters such as Alexis to fall through.
“When I first heard about it, I was devastated, but I’m still against gun control,” he said. “I also don’t think violence with a gun would solve any type of issue; if someone were to use a gun to stop a potential shooter, it doesn’t solve the problem of individuals like Aaron Alexis.”
The Navy Yard shooting is just one in a series of incidents provoking public debate on gun bans, buyer screenings and how best to deal with individuals such as Alexis in our society.
“Laws are the moral obligations of citizens,” Lyman said, regarding the enforcement of gun control. “People can’t be forced to obey laws no matter how strict the restrictions on guns.”