Jaimes: Gun control failed Aurora, Illinois

The shooting in Aurora, Illinois, earlier this month should have been prevented under many of the state’s gun control laws. More legislation isn’t the answer to gun violence.



Aurora police Chief Kristen Ziman stands near the podium during a vigil outside the Henry Pratt Co. plant where on Friday six people, including the gunman, were fatally shot Sunday Feb. 17, 2019, in Aurora, Ill. Five Aurora officers were also wounded in the shooting. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Marina Jaimes , Opinions Editor

The Feb. 15 shooting in Aurora, Illinois, hits home for many students, including me.

A Twitter news alert popped up on my phone over a week ago, prompting an immediate call to my aunt, an elementary-school social worker. She, along with my 1-year old cousin, were safe, as both of their schools were on lockdown.

Just 1.7 miles away from her work, a disgruntled employee opened fire on his coworkers after being informed of his termination from Henry Pratt Co. The aftermath of this rampage left five employees dead and five officers wounded. My hometown would quickly be splattered across the media with calls for tighter gun control, but many outlets failed to realize that Second Amendment rights provide much-needed defense for families in the same suburban town. The measures already in place could not provide any defense for the Henry Pratt employees.

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Details initially reported of the shooting stated that the gunman purchased the firearm he used at Henry Pratt in 2014, years after he was convicted of aggravated assault. A background check missed a prior felony, which allowed him to purchase the firearm.

There was no gun-show loophole. This was the failure of every law in the books.

More than a week later, a surplus of evidence proved to be an even bigger disappointment to gun-control advocates.

The gunman, Gary Martin, tallied six arrests for traffic and domestic battery-related issues in addition to the aggravated-assault conviction, which should have halted the purchase, according to the 1968 Gun Control Act. The act bars the purchase of firearms to anyone convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than a year and anyone who has been convicted of a misdemeanor domestic-violence offense. Martin had a history of both. 

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He was approved for a Firearm Owners Identification Card in Illinois but later denied a concealed-carry permit, which flagged his prior felony. Illinois State Police could not explain how he could possess a firearm after his card was rescinded.

According to Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Illinois got a “B+” rating in gun-control efforts, demonstrating that every measure to possibly prevent gun violence was codified in the blue state, home to the second most dangerous city in America.

As websites such as Vox proclaim that murders similar to these would not have occurred if every gun was taken off the street, they ignore a very two-sided argument.

I come from a family that exercises its Second Amendment right and knows the legal routes to becoming a firearm owner.

There is no certainty that my firearm will ever have to be pointed toward another human, but in the event that my firearm has to be, it does so only to protect a family that upholds the law and rights declared in the Constitution.

Certainty lies in the fact that my family lives in a two-mile radius of 123 registered sex offenders. No narrative takes away the reality that two Latin Kings living doors down from us murdered innocent teenagers at point-blank range.

Our middle-class family isn’t special. There are many families similar to ours that believe they are the best advocates for their own safety. We truly believe that “God created men, and Sam Colt made them equal” — equal protection in neighborhoods that don’t have the luxury of gates and equal defense in communities with a suffering police force.

To lawmakers and those who disagree with me at Vox: Please don’t leave me defenseless.