On Dec. 22, 15-year-old Javon Butler was shot and killed near Holton Street and Monmouth Boulevard. On Sunday, Galesburg residents gathered together in response to this tragedy and held a town hall meeting to brainstorm local ways the community could put an end to violent acts in Galesburg. Here, TKS Editorial Board members offer their perspectives on a national issue, gun control, and the role it could potentially play in our community. Would tighter gun control impact the city’s goal of decreasing violence in Galesburg?
Unsure any law would have much impact on access to firearms
I am somewhat skeptical that nationwide gun control would be really all that effective, assuming for a moment that it actually stood a realistic political chance of going though. Given that this country is already awash in guns, and that even the most radical legislation could only clamp down on gun sales so much, I am just not sure that any law could really do much to impede the ability of criminals to get their hands on firearms. I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing more restrictions on assault rifles, for example, but I don’t think anyone should hold any illusions about how big of an effect that would have.
Matt Barry, Co-News Editor
Instituting gun control would almost certainly have a positive effect on violence nationwide. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the U.S. had the highest percentage — out of available data — of murders by firearms out of any other developed country in 2010. Fewer guns means fewer gun-related fatalities. There should be extensively thorough background checks, more restrictions on the types of guns that people have access to and maybe even outright bans. But along with that, there should be more education. If one person has a gun and his friend doesn’t, his friend could still get access to it. Current and future gun owners should be required to take and pass a course that would be similar to Driver’s Education that would cover proper gun care, storage and handling. Such measures would help prevent future tragedies, like the death of Javon Butler.
Chelsea Embree, Digital Editor
Municipal laws are the way to a safer community
We will never live in a world free of violence and we will never be able to restrict other weapons like knives or ammunition, but it is worth government efforts to take a stance by instituting stricter gun control.
Galesburg is reflective of a national trend in gun violence. Instead of waiting for the implementation of national laws, Galesburg must step up and institute municipal laws and push on a local level to be a safer community. Ultimately it is people, not guns, that kill people and Galesburg should strive to stop this kind of violence.
Kate Mishkin, Co-News Editor
Could keep the next Javon alive, but needs a change in discourse
I believe that tightening gun control would ostensibly limit tragedies like Javon Butler’s death. But first, the national discourse on the issue must shift to reflect our reality: that modest measures, like background checks for gun purchasers, are not egregious encroachments on Second Amendment rights.
As time distances us from mass shootings like Sandy Hook, we become less passionate about these issues. President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday offered only a brief (and rather vague) reiteration of his commitment to ending gun violence, a plug that paled in comparison to last year’s speech.
While measures like strict background checks will have little effect on the illegal gun trade, it would be almost negligent not to enact such a simple, easily enforceable regulation that might keep the next Javon Butler alive.
Charlie Gorney, Editor-in-Chief
Gun control will have little impact on criminal activity
The death of sophomore Javon Butler is a tragedy that’s far from over. There are two suspects in the case, both are 18 and both are Galesburg residents. Brandon James Kenney is charged with first degree murder and Alex Robert Horton is charged with possession of a firearm by a felon. Assuming for a moment that these men are found guilty or a similar situation holds true for the convicted person(s), a background check or similar legal measure wouldn’t have saved Butler’s life.
Realistically speaking, pushing for a gun ban could lead to a mass underground market like that seen during the prohibition. Though I take no issue with background checks, strongly encourage the strict regulation of assault rifles and adamantly support further education for gun owners, I also understand that their impact is limited, especially when criminal activity is involved.
Samantha Paul, Discourse Editor