In our constitution, one of the ten most protected rights granted to U.S. citizens in the Bill of Rights is the right to bear arms. Although our right to bear arms will never be revoked, gun regulation in today’s America is too loose and should be more strictly monitored.
Firearms, as most people know, are very powerful and have instant effects. This is a very dangerous combination when talking about a tool that can take a persons life. In February of 2012, a young high school student, Trayvon Martin, was shot and killed by the community watch coordinator of his neighborhood in Sanford, Florida during an altercation between the two. Although the shooter, George Zimmerman, was subsequently acquitted of criminal charges, there is no question that had a gun not been involved; any dispute between them could have been solved without the loss of a life. Even the most level headed people can loose control in a heated argument, and if that person has a gun, it becomes that much easier to make a mistake that could ruin more than just one life.
Towards the end of that same year, a heavily armed young man walked into Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut then shot and killed 20 children and 6 adults before taking his own life. While this is an irregular and tragic event, it is far from the first of its kind. It is events like these that further show the need for strict gun regulation in our country. While guns originally provided protection to citizens, they may now pose a threat to our very safety that they once protected.
In 1997, a shooting spree at a school in Pearl, Mississippi was cut short by the assistant principal who ran to his car, grabbed his legally owned pistol and “physically immobilized” the shooter (Lott 100). Examples like this are numbered through history and illustrate the argument that guns can be used for protection and decrease fatalities. States in which gun laws are very protected and the second amendment is treasured, there have been alternate responses to large-scale shootings. “In Texas and several other states, multiple victim public shootings have been followed by the passage of concealed handgun laws that permit law-abiding citizens to carry firearms” (Lott 99). This is the solution to gun control that can be called fighting fire with fire. Since there is no feasible way to have control over each and every firearm across the country, instead make it easier for anyone to have a gun in hopes of citizens protecting themselves in the event of an attack.
This solution poses two major problems. First, many people are very uncomfortable carrying a gun and even if they were put into a situation in which they needed to protect themselves with a gun, they would not be prepared to do so. The other major problem is that people are more likely to get themselves killed trying to fight an armed attacker even with a gun. It is not hard to see that reducing the regulations placed on firearms would have the potential to turn chaotic rather than promote peace.
Some of the nationally accepted restrictions on gun ownership include background checks prior to sale, extended sentencing for crimes involving a firearm, and restrictions on types of guns people can own. Background checks became a national requirement with the passage of the Brady Bill in 1993 (Wilson 83), yet the number of guns owned in the U.S. rose from 200 million in 1994 to 300 million in 2004 (Miller, Azrael, Hemenway 6). There is no question that a background check is a necessary requirement to regulate gun violence, but it is far from a solution.
One form of gun regulation that especially entices the NRA (National Rifle Association, primary supporter and protector of second amendment) is the idea of extended sentencing. This way the NRA can proactively fight gun violence without impending the rights of citizens (Wilson 86). This is definitely an effective concept, but only helps in regulating gun violence, and only minor decreases in gun violence result. What people must come to realize is that guns, by their very nature, promote violence. Legally there is no way to combat the fact that it will always be legal for law-abiding citizens to obtain a gun, which is what makes our nation so special. But when it comes to something as dangerous and violent as guns, it should not be seen as an infringement of rights to make obtaining firearms exceptionally more difficult.
The book Shooters by Abigail Kohn talks about the citizens of this country who enjoy guns in the right way and just have a general interest in gun use and shooting guns. These people have no violent intentions and can own a multitude of firearms, they just enjoy collecting, shooting and hunting with guns. There is a right and safe way to enjoy guns just as a hobbyist would enjoy making model airplanes or a stamp collector would love collecting stamps (Kohn 9). Its large groups of people like this that make guns stay legal and easy to possess. There is a way to make both sides happy, it’s just going to require sacrifices from both sides. In order to make it noticeably safer and deter gun violence, “gun enthusiasts” as Kohn refers to them as, will need to make more sacrifices than the other side; however, Americans will always have the right to purchase and possess firearms after due processes.
It may just be that the gun control debate will forever separate the two major political parties in America and neither side will ever conform to the other. The debate will be a single representation of each side, such as controversies like abortion and gay rights. Although these two social issues tend to be heading in one direction more than the other, the gun control debate remains. Bringing the two sides together into a compromise will be difficult, but will be necessary before any kind of change will be seen.
CNN. “Sandy Hook Shooting: What Happened?” CNN. N.p., n.d. Web. 2013. <http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2012/12/us/sandy-hook-timeline/index.html>.
Wilson, Harry L. Guns, Gun Control, and Elections. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2007. Print.
Lott, John R. The Bias Against Guns. Washington DC: Regnery Publishing, 2003. Print.
Miller, Matthew, Deborah Azrael, and David Hemenway. “Firearms and Violent Death in the United States.” Reducing Gun Violence in America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013. N. pag. Print.
Swanson, Jeffrey W., Allison Robertson, Linda K. Frisman, Michael A. Norko, Hsiu-Ju Lin, Marvin S. Swartz, and Philip J. Cook. “Preventing Gun Violence Involving People with Serious Mental Illness.” Reducing Gun Violence in America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013. N. pag. Print.
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