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Sunday, Jun 16, 2024
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Gun laws in dire need of common sense reforms

In the wake of the Arizona shooting that left six dead and a United States congresswoman seriously injured, the question of gun control resurfaces again in these lovely, well-armed United States. In recent years, with tragedies like the Columbine shootings and the Virginia Tech massacre, the issue has certainly been simmering.

I find myself asking over and over after reading about these tragedies why people claim that the solution to gun violence is simply to give out more guns. That logic is like saying the solution to the Black Plague was more rats. Clearly, there are enough dangerous people with enough guns; otherwise we wouldn’t have to argue the point in the first place.

These men and women scream nonsensically that the Constitution defends their right to carry guns wherever they please and no one can stop them from doing so. This right is the second amendment to the Bill of Rights, which states, “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.”

In the legal sense this promises the states the ability to form a militia and, as a part of that, the members of such are allowed to “bear arms,” not that everyone has the right to buy and sell assault rifles at his/her choosing.

The courts of the United States have also said that the argument that this amendment allows citizens to privately own weapons is erroneous and baseless. Stevens v. U.S., United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, 1971 reached such a conclusion. It ruled that “Since the Second Amendment right ‘to keep and bear arms’ applies only to the right of the state to maintain a militia, and not to the individual’s right to bear arms, there can be no serious claim to any express constitutional right of an individual to possess a firearm.”

On an ethical level, there should be limitations to this right as there are to any right. We are granted freedom of speech, but if someone yells loudly that (s)he is going to assassinate the President, (s)he has infringed upon the right of the President not to be threatened with assassination and it becomes a question of national security. Furthermore, no one in his/her right mind would say that it should be legal for a private citizen to drive around town in a Panzer, and yet this would technically (by mainstream pro-gun definitions) be a violation of Constitutional rights.

Another popular slogan is the ever-irritating “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” This is also an idiotic saying because guns make it much easier for people to kill people. In 2008, the FBI reported that 67 percent of all murders in the United States were committed with guns.

Furthermore, guns have only one function practically speaking: to kill someone/something. Hunters don’t need concealed handguns or semi-automatic weapons to shoot Bambi’s mom. That leaves the point of such weapons to be exclusively for injuring or killing another person.

I’m certainly not proposing that all guns be banned, but I am proposing much tighter restrictions on who can obtain guns and the process by which guns can be bought and which guns ought to be sold. On paper, the United States prohibits guns to be sold to convicted felons, psychiatric patients, etc.

However, 15 states automatically restore convict firearm rights upon their release from prison and presenting fake ID when buying a gun had a 100 percent success rate in five states that met minimum federal requirements according to the Government Accountability Office.

Out of all background checks (roughly 96 million per year) in the United States, only 1 percent is denied firearm ownership, and of that 1 percent, 26 percent have that decision reversed in appeals. The need is clear that serious reform is needed for the process of buying guns as well as determining the legality of certain guns (such as those that can shoot up to 30 rounds without reloading).

I propose that classes be necessary for gun owners, harsher punishment for those who violate gun laws and an elevated sense of seriousness taken on the part of those performing background checks. Otherwise, I fear we can only expect more stories of innocent lives being taken by means of senseless firearms accessed with ease by deranged people.

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