To Be or Not to Be: Gun Control

Gun Control. Just the mention of those two words is usually enough to start an uproar between those for stricter gun control regulations and those who want better freedoms. This unique issue has affected almost every person in our country due to skyrocketing numbers of deaths that have occurred because of these weapons. Although this is such a major issue many prefer to use these violent mass shootings to justify their viewpoint rather then consider the opposition’s view. This controversy alone has led to a division in the political world, and a division across America. 

In order to gain a better grasp on this issue we need to understand the history of gun control. So how old is gun control? It is as old as the United States. A 1792 law required all eligible white men to buy a gun and enroll in a citizen militia which is where the second amendment came into play. This reform is the root of the debate, the single sentence in the  constitution reads “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” The interpretation of that line separates those who believe in more regulation of firearms and those who see any such legislation as a violation of their individual rights. Since then, the first piece of national gun control legislation was passed on June 26, 1934. In 1938, felons were prevented from owning guns and a national registry where interstate gun dealers were required to record their sales of guns. The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act as well as the Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibited felons, drug users, and the mentally ill from owning guns; 21 becomes the legal age to purchase guns.  The Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986, reduces government power over gun control and prevents government creating a registry of gun owners. In 1993, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act requires background checks. The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 created a 10-year ban on manufacturing semi-automatic weapons. In 2004 the 10-year assault weapons ban expires. In 2008, a law banning handguns in DC is ruled unconstitutional, the 2nd Amendment is credited with guaranteeing the rights of law-abiding citizens having guns. Today, according to an NBC news article, it is estimated that “about a third of American households” own firearms, however, this cannot be known for sure because there is no national registry of guns or gun owners.

Almost every American has debated the same question: is gun control going to be better or worse for our country? The current issue at hand is the increase of gun violence throughout the recent years and today, it seems as though school shootings are a weekly occurrence. As scary as this sounds, it is somewhat comforting to hear that new gun control bills are being proposed. The two most recent gun prevention bills were introduced to Congress last week. The first bill is The Handgun Purchaser Licensing Act, which would require a license before buying a gun. Officials believe that this would reduce gun violence because the purchaser would have to wait a longer period of time to obtain the firearm, potentially deterring them from impulsively buying a gun. The second bill is “a proposal to stem the publication of digital files or code that could be used, in conjunction with a 3D printer, to manufacture guns at home, out of the oversight of federal firearms manufacturing rules”. This would outlaw the publication of digital instructions and/or codes to 3D-print guns. Although these two bills might not put an end to gun violence as a whole it is still a fine reminder that things are indeed changing. In addition to these two bills “a policy called Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPOs) has garnered significant bipartisan support.” In short, this regulation or ERPO “sets up a process for reporting to authorities a fellow citizen who displays distressing behavior.” This approach is starting to take off across the country and many states have seen beneficial change since its introduction. However, as with most change this idea does not come without criticism. According to Beyrer, many folks in Colorado disagree with this ERPO due to both “practical and constitutional” rights. 

It is time to take a look at the two main arguments behind this issue. Gun control advocates insist that it is time for a change. They argue that more gun control laws would reduce gun deaths, including suicides and accidental deaths. Due to the increased difficulty to own a gun, fewer people would possess them and therefore suicides and accidental deaths by gun would decrease as a whole. Another idea is that armed civilians are unlikely to stop crimes and are more likely to make dangerous situations, including mass shootings, more deadly. The example set by other countries who have faced mass shootings is a possible solution used by gun control advocates. Instead of brushing them off, these countries have learned and changed from their devastating experiences. An article by CNN discusses how New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom were all able to come up with harsher regulations after similar instances occurred in their nation. These three countries with restrictive gun control laws have much lower gun homicide and suicide rates than the United States, so it could be immesnly beneficial to learn from them. Finally, the most substantial argument is that The Second Amendment was intended to protect the right of militias to own guns, not the right of individuals. 

For the most part, Second Amendment Rights advocates believe that the government shouldn’t make stricter laws as it wont keep guns out of the wrong hands. One opinion piece I came across was written by Daniel Brezenoff. He along with many other second amendment advocates believe that mental health is the bigger problem here. He argued that  “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” He proposed a better mental health program and a huge culture change that would take time. As for additional opinions, I found that many advocates argue that these new regulations will not prevent criminals from obtaining guns or breaking laws and that gun control policies would prevent citizens from protecting themselves from foreign invaders. In addition, gun control laws might infringe upon the right to self-defense and deny people a sense of safety. Another article mentioned that attackers don’t follow gun laws and trying to implement them would not be useful. Finally, the last argument that everyone has been anticipating is that the Second Amendment of the US Constitution protects individual gun ownership and denying anyone of a firearm would be against US citizens rights. 

I see the reasoning behind both arguments, however; if gun control increased it would be much harder for criminals to cause harm using these weapons. I’d feel much safer just knowing that other individuals are unable to obtain guns rather then that fact that someone might be able to defend me with a gun, it is simple math; less guns, less deaths. In addition, the argument regarding the second amendment does hold some truth, which is why I believe it is about time that we relook this amendment. In these current times, we have the military, police and other enforcement at our disposal, with this being said it appears that the amendment is a bit outdated and it might no longer be necessary for civilians to hold firearms at all. What the second amendment contends is that the policy was not established to protect the rights of individuals. This right was simply put in place in 1792 to ensure that an army composed of a civilian population would be able to protect our nation if necessary. Now that our country has a authorities whose primary job is to protect United States citizens, and it seems inessential for a third of American households to own these weapons. 

Gun control matters to everyone right now. Although it seems like there are as many opinions on gun control then their are guns it has been agreed that there is a problem at hand. Half of America questions if guns are really necessary while the other half insists that they are. Some wonder if the government regulates who has the right to own a gun crime rates and death could decrease while others believe that guns aren’t to blame for these deaths. There are always at least two sides to an argument; perhaps in this case we need a compromise where the 2nd amendment is reassessed, automatic and semi-automatic guns are limited, and guns are tracked but gun owners have rights and sufficient resources to address mental health issues. All we can hope is that sometime in the near future our country will come to an agreement on this stance, not for the satisfaction of one side or another but for the safety and well-being of our citizens.

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One Comment to “To Be or Not to Be: Gun Control”

  1. I agree that this issue needs to be addressed, but I also agree with the opinion writer in that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” I don’t think that gun regulations will stop criminals from obtaining weapons, because they are criminals. Even those with suicidal thoughts. I am sure that if someone wants to kill themselves or others, they will find a way. I like the idea of learning from other countries gun regulations, especially if they have seen a lower crime rate as a result. I understand the second amendment along with the entire constitution was written over 200 years ago, and changes need to be made with a changing society. But change doesn’t come easy to most. Hopefully one day, this issue can be addressed, and a solution can be made that makes everyone happy.

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