Less than a month after 20 children and six adults were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., a 16-year-old high school boy used a 12-gauge shotgun to shoot and wound two people at Taft Union High School in Taft, Calif. Twelve days later, at least 10 shots were fired at Lone Star College in Houston, Texas, injuring four.
Listing a succession of recent shootings — not to mention ones that have not received media attention — evokes a wide range of emotion among Americans. Many, including myself, read about gun-related tragedies and feel inclined to enact changes that will reduce them.
Others read the articles, see the statistics, watch another shooting play out on the evening news, and, puzzling enough, they become aggressive in the defense of guns.
To me, this is warped logic. I have noticed a few key arguments and fallacies that gun rights activists continue to make to solidify their case.
The first is that the government, and President Obama specifically, is trying to take away their guns. However, in the President’s gun control proposal that he published on Jan. 16, there is no talk of gun seizing. Instead, the plan focuses on, among other things, increased regulation on the buying and selling of guns, financing programs to help police and school officials maintain a safe environment, and banning assault weapons, which no Average Joe should be allowed access to in the first place.
This brings me to my next point of contention: Some feel as though a ban on assault weapons is an infringement on the Second Amendment. Perhaps a refresher as to what the Second Amendment actually says will clear this one up.
Amendment II to the U.S. Constitution (1791)
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 current gun regulations — ones that allow an 18-year-old to purchase a shotgun or rifle though they are still denied access to purchasing alcohol — do not seem to fit the “well-regulated Milita” aspect of the amendment so well.
And, honestly, at what point in time is it necessary for any average American citizen to use an assault rifle?
While the answer to that question can never be fully agreed upon, some feel it is a moot point. They don’t want anybody coming close to their Second Amendment because of the possibility of the need to overthrow a tyrannical government. While it must be stressful living in fear of a hypothetical tyrannical reign, might I direct everyone’s attention to the actual, existing issue of innocent people being shot and killed or wounded at an extremely alarming rate? I’d like to think that Americans can see the practicality in addressing a very serious problem that is the current reality over a hypothetical.
Speaking of hypotheticals, there is also postulation from anti-gun control folks along the lines of, “gun control won’t work because people who really want guns will still find a way to get them, and people will still shoot each other, regardless.” To this, I say: People who really want to disobey traffic laws will run red lights, so let us abolish traffic regulations. What’s the point? There are still car accidents despite the many laws trying to prevent them. Down with stop signs! Away with speed limits!
Lastly, there is the ever-common saying of, “guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” And while it’s true that people do, in fact, kill people, guns contribute to the equation significantly. Experts from the Harvard Injury Control Research Center show that more guns equal more homicides, and we happen to live in a country with the most guns per capita — approximately 300 million civilian firearms in the nation.
Other countries that enforce stricter gun control laws are proven to have less death by firearms. In Australia, for example, the Australian government began working on gun regulation in 1996, such as banning assault weapons and shotguns and paying for gun amnesty and buybacks, after a shooting massacre killed 35 people. Since then, firearm homicides reportedly dropped 59 percent between 1995 and 2006.
There is a problem with gun violence in the United States. Changes must be made in order to fix it, and stricter regulations on gun purchasing and assault weapon access will get us there. When something is broken, when children cannot attend school without fearing a bullet wound, we must fix it. It is the American way.
Contact CU Independent Opinion Editor Lizzy Hernandez at Elizabeth.firstname.lastname@example.org.