Pittsburgh gun reform must remain

Staff Editorial

Following a mass shooting that killed 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill last year, Mayor Bill Peduto passed three gun control ordinances that would “restrict the use of assault weapons, extended magazines and armor-piercing ammunition in public places within the city,” according to CNN.

But on Tuesday, Oct. 29, a judge struck down these ordinances; Allegheny County Common Pleas Senior Judge Joseph M. James found that state laws prohibit local gun laws.

But the city plans to keep fighting.

It shouldn’t be so difficult to implement laws limiting the use of guns like the Colt AR-15 — the weapon used by the synagogue shooter last year. These are pieces of artillery designed for the sole sake of killing as many people as possible very, very quickly. It isn’t your hunting rifle that these laws would target. It isn’t the handgun you keep for personal safety. It’s military-grade weaponry and bullets that can pierce armor. There’s no need for anyone to have any of these things.

On Sept. 1, CBS published an article explaining that there had been more mass shootings in the U.S. than there had been days in the year. With Sept. 1st marking the 244th day of the year, there had been 283 mass shootings in the country, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive. All of the deadliest mass shootings have the same thing in common: the terrorist had used an assault weapon.

The Aug. 4 shooting in Dayton, Ohio is one example of this. The attack resulted in the death of 9 people, and 27 more were injured. But the kicker? It only lasted 32 seconds; in just over half a minute, Dayton police were able to subdue the shooter, a 24-year-old gunman with an AR-15-style assault rifle and a 100-round drum magazine. But because of the caliber of the weapon used, he was still able to shoot more than one person per second.

Because of state laws, the Dayton shooter had purchased the weapon legally. Likewise, the shooter who killed 22 people in El Paso, Texas on Aug. 3, just a day before the Dayton massacre, had also purchased his weapon legally; in both states, laws protect the ownership of high-capacity weaponry and magazines, as long as the owner has a permit.

These weapons shouldn’t be legal. No one outside of a warzone needs a weapon that can shoot 36 people in 32 seconds. It is not your God-given right to carry a gun. The Second Amendment was written about muskets, which took between 20 seconds and a minute to load. (In the time it took to load a musket, the Dayton shooter had already committed his crime.)

Assault weapons only feed into the destructive will of the terrorists and increase the amount of damage they can inflict. We as a society need to get our priorities straight and ask ourselves what we love more: our guns, or our futures?