Time to stand up for common sense
Guns aren't the problem, people are
By Madeline Moreno
By Nathan Swaim
In recent years, America has been rocked to its core by senseless mass shootings. Innocent civilians have been brutally murdered in Newtown, Charleston, Orlando, and innumerable other cities around the country. While protecting the rights of gun owners is important, common sense gun reform is both constitutional and necessary to prevent further unnecessary tragedies.
One argument against gun control we frequently hear is that although tragic, the lives lost to guns are not enough to justify restrictions on the Second Amendment. Instead, these proponents will defend their right to bear arms saying mass shootings are on the decline. In fact, the opposite is true—mass shootings have more than tripled in the past five years according to a nonpartisan study by Harvard University. This is a terrifying reality that will get progressively worse the longer we wait to take action.
Another standard argument against common sense gun reform is that guns are necessary for self-defense. Forty eight percent of American gun owners said the main reason they purchased their gun was for protection according to the pew research center in 2013, begging the question: Why make it harder for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves? While this makes sense in theory, using guns for self-defense rarely works well in practice. A Harvard analysis of data from the federal National Crime Victimization Survey found that for every one gun used in self-defense, another six guns are used to commit crimes, thus arming one of the “good guys” arms six criminals as well.
The last argument I will address is that of the constitutionality of regulating gun purchases. While the Second Amendment states, “the right . . . to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”, it does not guarantee unrestricted access to guns. Therefore, precautions to prevent homicide, such as implementing background checks for potential gun owners, are constitutional. We seem to have forgotten that all of our rights and freedoms have restrictions, even our beloved First Amendment. The First Amendment protects the freedom of speech, but not libel, defamation, or speech that causes “direct incitement” of violence. While we try to avoid restricting our rights whenever possible, it is nonetheless a necessary part of life in a free society.
It is time to stand up to the gun lobby and demand legislation to combat gun violence. According to a Gallup poll in 2015, 86% of Americans favored universal background checks for all gun purchases. Despite the partisanship we constantly see in Congress, we can find bipartisan solutions to this problem. We are morally obligated to answer to the grieving parents, children, friends, and loved ones of those killed in preventable shootings, and common sense gun reform is an ideal place to start.
Ever since man has sought to take the life of his fellow man, he has used some weapon to aid in the completion of his plan. Whether it is as simple as one’s own hands or as complex as a satellite-guided missile, there has always been a weapon. Almost any object or force can be used as a weapon, so this begs the question: are the objects at fault? Several weeks ago, eighty-six souls were blasted into eternity because one person decided to plow through crowds with a cargo truck. This car could not have moved on its own, so obviously blame is applied to the driver of the vehicle. Only a month earlier, forty-nine people were killed in a shooting at an Orlando nightclub. Instead of blaming the person, many people called for heavy regulations on firearms. What is the difference between the gun and the truck? Both are tools to be used, both have beneficial uses, and both have disgusting uses. The only real difference between the gun and the truck in these two attacks is that the truck killed more people.
The simple reality is that both the gun and the truck are tools to be used by humans. When in the wrong hands, both are dangerous. When in the right hands, both can be lifesaving. But how do we make sure these tools are in the right hands? In short, there is no sure way to keep tools out of wrong hands. Without a 1984-style society where all moves are watched constantly, which, obviously, brings along more problems than it would fix, there is no surefire way to keep guns and trucks out of the wrong hands. Both guns and trucks can be acquired legally and illegally, and no one but the person buying the gun or truck would know the damage they are planning to do with it. If there is no concrete way to prevent these tools from falling into the wrong hands, what can be done?
Because there is no way to prevent all tools from staying in responsible hands, it becomes the responsibility of those responsible to hold accountable those who are irresponsible. President Kennedy said it best: “For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt they will never be employed.” When President Kennedy said that, America was facing Cold War with The Soviet Union. President Kennedy understood that the only thing stopping those nuclear missiles from being fired was that fact that both opposing sides had their missiles pointed at the other. No criminal wants to get shot before he can accomplish his goal, and no terrorist wants to go down without taking others with him. They would be a lot more careful if they knew the possibility existed that they would have four guns pointed at them for every one they pointed at someone else. Why, then, should we make it difficult for responsible citizens to get guns? I do not propose nullifying regulations altogether, but we must be cautious when banning or heavily regulating guns. Guns are not the problem; people are the problem.