Why America needs gun control

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.

(Josh Shettler and Kai Casey/CU Independent Graphic Illustration)

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.hernandez@colorado.edu.

Elizabeth Hernandez

Elizabeth Hernandez is a news-editorial major who sees the world in terms of satirical material. She can usually be found reading the news with her head in her hands, furiously writing op-eds, watching cat videos, or judging people's Instagram feeds.

  1. There are many errors with your belief in gun control Elizabeth. Number one, it doesn’t work, plain and simple. Chicago is a perfect example of that. That isn’t even the main point. The one thing that you anti-gun supporters cannot understand is the fact the OUR 2nd Amendment was in fact intended for “We The People” to be armed against the possibility of a tyrannical and unjust government. Our Founding Fathers new the possibility of this in our future which was not only the purpose of OUR Constitution but the Bill of Rights as well. Thomas Jefferson for one (I’m sure you’ve heard of him) was a firm supporter of OUR 2nd Amendment. OUR 2nd Amendment Right was not put in place for hunting or sporting purposes as so many of you anti-gun supporters believe (the president even believes this which is sad). OUR 2nd Amendment Right is not open for interpretation to fit your political agenda.

    “The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes…. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”
    – Thomas Jefferson

    “Firearms stand next in importance to the constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence … from the hour the Pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurrences and tendencies prove that to ensure peace security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable … the very atmosphere of firearms anywhere restrains evil interference — they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.”
    -George Washington

    I can continue on with quotes such as these from the people who are responsible for the founding of OUR country but I sadly believe that it wouldn’t make a difference to you nor anyone else who supports taking away the rights that were guaranteed to us by the Founders of OUR great nation.

    Another point to make is that there is no such thing as an “assault” rifle. That is only a political label created to demonize guns that look scarier than others. And your question asking at what point in time is it necessary for an average American citizen to use an “assault” rifle? really? I have an idea…..how about when the are confronted with a home invader or with the “hypothetical” tyrannical government as you put it. That sounds good. Or would you prefer a nerf gun or anything else that would inflict minimal to no harm on a person who means to harm you? It is always better to have it and not need it rather than need it and not have it. Regardless of whether it is the demonized “assault” rifle or a handgun. And just so we’re clear on the 2nd Amendment. It has 2 parts to it, although anti-gun supporters choose to believe that their is only one part which intended only for a well regulated militia to be armed. For that I refer you back to the two quotes that I stated earlier along with putting forth an effort to actually study OUR history and come to a much better understanding of OUR Constitutional Rights than what you have now. I can continue on with this and completely tear apart your baseless article but I will stop here and leave you with this. Ask yourself this. What if roles were reversed and your 1st Amendment Rights were threatened to a point in which you were not only unable to write an article such as this but it was made illegal for you to speak in public of such things? That it would be punishable with imprisonment and fines? What would you think then? What would you do? Of course that’s just a hypothetical right? It’s not like the government would ever attempt to infringe on OUR Constitutional Rights, correct? What would I know, I’m just a fear mongering, paranoid, scared American clinging to my guns and to the “outdated” principles and rights my country was founded on right? If you wish to debate further on this I gladly accept. As you can see from my comment on your article I’m not the stereotypical gun owner that you liberals portray us as. I am well educated in the history of OUR country and I, along with many others will not sit idly by while people such as yourself attack my Rights. Good day to you.

  2. If the author’s articles were regularly inflicting physical harm against people due to its easy access, then yes, maybe the government would have a right to infringe.

  3. You realize the government has drones, tanks, and countless ways to kill you, right? So either you can think that every citizen needs to be armed with nuclear warheads equal in power to the government, or you can accept that the constitution is a living document and the forefathers had no way to imagine the firepower our government possesses. The founding fathers lived in a very different world than we do. If we continue to look at what they did explicitly, our country will fall apart.

    That doesn’t mean that the second amendment is completely wrong. Citizens have a right to arms. But it is silly to think that it is to ward off a tyrannical government.

    Further, you seem to think that the government is going to take all of your guns away if any gun control is enacted. Luckily for you, gun control is not all or nothing. You must have missed the part of the article where she says “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,” I support the second amendment and believe citizens have a right to own arms. But not the kind of automatic weapons with huge magazines that have been used in shooting after shooting after shooting. There’s no reasonable need for that.

  4. Your traffic analogy isn’t effective:

    The argument is that gun regulation doesn’t work (i.e. it doesn’t prevent criminals from getting guns). If this is true, then the pro-gun group have a valid argument. Traffic regulation, most agree, does work. Thus, it does not make since to compare the two. If you want a more succesful analogy, you must think of another area where regulation does not work, and show that it is still useful in having that regulation. Good luck with that. Your better bet is to argue that gun regulation IS effective and DOES prevent criminals from getting weapons.

  5. @Anonymous, I’m sorry that you think my use of the word liberal somehow devalues my “argument”. I guess I could have said liberal media or just generalized it by simply stating “I’m not the stereotypical gun owner that we are portrayed as.” if that would have made you and others feel better. Regardless, my logic still stands. @Adam, please explain to me how an article could possibly “inflict physical harm against people” as you put it? My comparison of the author’s 1st Amendment Rights being taken away or infringed upon to my 2nd Amendment Rights being taken away or infringed upon was in reference to our government continually encroaching on our rights and freedoms just because someone else doesn’t like another person utilizing those rights. I wouldn’t expect or demand that anyone’s Rights be tampered with by our government. The sad fact is that many of our Constitutional Rights are being violated, the problem being that so many people are use to it that they either don’t realize it or just don’t care. It is the downfall of our country. @Kyle, thanks for the lesson in government armaments. I know a little about it since I served in the Army. I absolutely do not think citizens should be armed with nuclear warheads and you suggesting I somehow am implying that is absolutely ridiculous. It just shows how much you are lacking in intelligence. Our Founding Fathers in all honesty did not live in a world very different from ours as you say, in regards to how they were governed before the Revolutionary War. They had to fight and overcome a tyrannical government (The British government in case you didn’t know) who had become increasingly controlling in their lives just as our current government is becoming increasingly controlling in our lives. And no, I am not implying that our current government needs to be overthrown. Only that there needs to be serious change in the way our country is ran (and what I mean by that is smaller government, not bigger government as you all seem perfectly comfortable with). And if any of you don’t see that, you need to open your eyes. What it seems that you are implying Kyle is that we have no realistic chance of defending ourselves against a tyrannical government so we might as well not even attempt to do so. The fact that you say it is “silly” to think that our Second Amendment is intended for such a purpose just further shows how much your knowledge is lacking in regards to our Constitution. The simple solution to that is to read. I know that it may be difficult for many of you to read up on our history because you would be confronted with facts and that is one thing that people such as yourselves clearly have difficulty with. The government absolutely wants to take our guns away, certainly not everyone in government does but many do. And they are constantly looking for ways to do so, especially now. People such as Senator Diane Feinstein and many others have stated specifically that they want and intend to. I could quote them but I will not bother, research it yourself. I will cite one piece of legislation that is currently being brought up for a vote in California, specifically AB (Assembly Bill) 174. It states the intent is to repeal the grandfather clause in gun ownership. To simplify it for you that means the state and local government in California will have the authority to confiscate (take away)any guns that have already been deemed illegal or will be deemed illegal in the future even if you purchased them prior to the laws being enacted. So there you go, gun confiscation. If you don’t believe me look it up. And last but not least your final statement in reference to “automatic” weapons with “huge” magazines just makes me shake my head. Once again as I’ve stated numerous times already it is just another indication as to your lack of knowledge on the subject at hand. The weapons were not “automatic” as you think, they were semi-automatic. Which means you squeeze the trigger and only one round is expended, not multiple rounds as so many people believe. It is no different than any other semi-automatic gun you would use. As far as the magazine size goes I won’t even finish by debating you on that topic as you’ve already shown how little you know. Along with the fact that the moderators of this comment section are not going to like it when they see how long my comment is and will sit there and debate as to whether or not they should even post this. Good luck with educating yourselves. You’ll need it.

  6. I wanted to take the time to apologize to the author of this article along with the other commentors. I apologize if any of my comments offend you. The particular subject of gun control is something I have strong feelings about and in several instances throughout my comments I let my emotions control how I responded. With a topic such as gun control that has sparked intense national debate in light of the recent tragedies, it is important to have an open civil debate amongst ourselves. What saddens me and what causes me to react as I did is not only the clear and outright lack of knowledge that many people have on this subject but the fact that OUR 2nd Amendment Right is just one of many rights that a vast amount of people have fought and died for over the years. That our founding fathers put these unalienable rights in place so as not to be tampered with and for good reason. As I have stated before, I would never ask for the rights of others to be infringed upon. Unless of course you have committed crimes in which those rights are justly taken away. What so many people do not understand is that our government has already infringed on many of our rights and yet we just sit here and let it occur. Further infringing on our rights such as the 2nd Amendment is just one more step for OUR government to have more control over us. Once you understand that, you will understand the importance of OUR rights. Again, I apologize for any offensive statements I may have made. Thank You.

  7. To Michael Minch: Thank -you over and over for taking the time to articulate and educate us on the issues of 2nd amendment rights and how they and the Constitution are as relevant today as they were during the time of its founding. I would like to copy and paste it as answers or rebuttals to other articles or websites or media hosts who suggest infringing on the 2nd amendment is an action that must take place now.
    Well constructed, organized, logical presentation. I am more resolute in supporting the
    2nd amendment as a result of reading your comments.

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