A Potential Step Toward A Middle Ground For Gun Control

The tragic events of mass (and ordinary) shootings over the past couple of years have not directly affected me and my life.  However, as a citizen of the United States, the recent Aurora shooting has raised my concern for the well being of other citizens, especially those close to me.  Gun violence has the potential to affect anyone, regardless of what state they may live in.  The rise in popularity surrounding issues of gun violence over the past few decades has also sparked political debates about gun rights, bans and regulations.  Members of the far right view the far left as wanting to take away their firearms and the freedom to posses those weapons.  Members of the far left view the far right as a major contributing factor to the deaths of many American lives.  What members from each side are failing, or refusing, to see is that they are closer to a middle ground than they realize.  The most evident common ground we can address and work from is the general desire to protect lives.

However, in the context of gun ownership, those who identify with or are affiliates of the far right, such as the NRA, define their ideal protection as ownership of a firearm with minimal to no regulation (1) while the far left defines their ideal protection as a ban on guns (4).  I believe we must take necessary steps to restrict gun ammunition to abate gun violence activity.  This proposal is just one of many options for restrictions in order to abate gun violence and a step in the direction of lowering the amount of damage caused by guns.  In this situation, pro-gun people can hold on to their firearms and anti-gun people can rest a little easier knowing less lives will be vulnerable to death resulting from a gun.

Gun advocates, mainly Conservatives, have been winning society over with “rights-based arguments”, as Douthat puts it.  (2; 3).  They are appealing to the ideology of freedom and rights which are national values instilled in us from childhood.  By equivocating restrictions with bans, they argue that this course of action poses a threat to our rights (3) and we therefore end up feeling threatened and react against any further restrictions on gun laws.  Restrictions, however, do not mean an all-out ban on guns.  As Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer mentioned, “The Second Amendment can have reasonable limits.”  (5)  In fact, Americans have often supported regulations to gun laws in the past: prohibiting felons and mentally ill individuals from obtaining guns, requiring background checks prior to purchase, and a (now expired) ban on assault weapons.  And yet we’ve been able to hold onto our guns all along through the installment of those precautionary limitations.  No, the government will not be able to protect everyone from the occasional unhinged shooter.  However, with a restriction on ammunition, it can limit the amount of damage (save more lives) that might possibly be done.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that although America is claimed to be the land of the free, social systems function best when that freedom is structured and regulated.  The ideal parenting style for children allows them the freedom to explore, play, and contribute to decision making process as their input is highly valued.  At the same time there are rules, restrictions, limitations and guidelines in place, ultimately to protect the child and help them learn what is appropriate behavior in their given society.  My intent is not to infantilize the citizens of America and claim the government to be the wise, all-knowing parent (because we all know parents can be wrong too).  Rather I’d like to illustrate the advantage of a healthy, balanced relationship between freedom and regulation.  Let me draw from another analogy (although in a different way) made by Chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd (6).  Cars are responsible for the deaths of thousands of people every year, but to minimize the danger they impose, the government has set up several rules and regulations for obtaining, owning and operating a car.  The guidelines are meant to protect us and they help us/teach us to interact with others in socially appropriate ways (which includes not intentionally harming others).  Regarding ammunition, another form of regulation could be in the restriction of specific ammunition, such as high impact rounds.  This could be seen as similar to not allowing the average citizen to purchase and operate a military tank on the roads.

Lastly, and simply put, it is better to be safe than sorry.  Compared to other first world countries/places (i.e. Germany, France, Japan, UK, Hong Kong, etc.) the number of gun homicides in the US is extremely high (7).  In the most recent recording of gun homicides, The United States had a total of 9,146 firearm homicides whereas Austria had a total of only 15 firearm homicides (7).  Also, other first world countries prohibit more firearms and ammunition (8).  Austria’s prohibition of firearms and ammunition includes automatic firearms, firearms disguised as other objects, and armor-piercing, incendiary and expanding ammunition (8).  It would be plausible to connect the increase in restrictions to a decrease in death/gun homicide.  But if that’s not enough, just think of plain and simple logic.  Ownership of less ammunition would decrease the number of possible deaths that may result from the use of such firearms.  Regulating ammunition allows for at least some increase, if only marginal, in safety which is a more preferable option than the loss of more lives in another mass shooting.

Until we can look into the deeper cultural/psychological/societal issues of why violence has plagued America so much (9) we should focus on what is possible right now.  There are many other ways to regulate gun use (more extensive background checks or interviewing applicants and their references as New York requires (6)).  But this proposed method of specifically restricting ammunition might be more effective, possibly quite feasible and definitely reasonable.  As citizens with the freedom to speak out, we Americans have the privilege of being active participants in our society.  We are all of advocates of protecting lives, therefore we should come together on an agreement over minor alterations to gun policies as freedom and regulation together often produce favorable results.

 

Referenced Articles

(1)  http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-mcmanus-20120726,0,4571483.story

(2)  http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/26/on-gun-control-and-prohibition/

(3)  http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2012-07-23/news/fl-guns-florida-politicians-20120723_1_tighter-gun-controls-favor-stricter-gun-laws-gun-lobby

(4)  http://www.examiner.com/article/int-l-gun-control-lobby-sets-sights-on-ammo-2a-at-united-nations

(5)  http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/07/24/hill-democrats-look-to-silent-majority-on-gun-control/?hpt=hp_t2

(6)  http://newsbusters.org/blogs/kyle-drennen/2012/07/25/nbcs-todd-whines-over-lack-rational-policy-debate-about-gun-control

(7)  http://www.gunpolicy.org//firearms/compare/194/number_of_gun_homicides

(8)  http://www.gunpolicy.org//firearms/compare/194/prohibited_firearms_and_ammunition

(9)  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-moore/its-the-guns-_b_1700218.html

 

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2 Comments to “A Potential Step Toward A Middle Ground For Gun Control”

  1. They should have more restrictions on people who want to own guns. I heard congress is trying to push that if the person with a criminal record wants a gun he/she will not be allowed to own one. That will be a good way to start the change. They should also have a license renewal annually, so they can keep close eye on the people who own guns. it is a good way to see if they convicted any crimes or violations.

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