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Point: Is Gun Control the Answer to the Violence Question?

Rodney Pascua, Sports Editor

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   “A man’s rights rest in three boxes: the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.” -Frederick Douglass

   On February 14, a mass shooting occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It left 17 people dead. The survivors have since started to advocate for more gun control, bringing the gun-control debate to center stage. While it is important that the victims’ voices be heard, many of them are misguided by the notion that the shooting was strictly a gun problem. As overplayed the argument “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people” is, it stands correct. The answer to mass murder is not stricter gun legislation.

   First and foremost, the Second Amendment 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.” The intent of the Second Amendment is to allow all citizens to own weapons. It does not mean, what some people interpret it as, that only a regulated militia can own guns. Founding Father Samuel Adams said, “The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms” (thefederalistpapers.org). In summary, any ban on guns would be unconstitutional.

   One argument that some people have is that the Bill of Rights was written almost 230 years ago; therefore, the Second Amendment is outdated, because the Founding Fathers could not predict how far gun technology would advance. This argument is flawed, because the same has to be applied to the First Amendment; there was no mass media back then to broadcast free speech. Moreover, the Founding Fathers were  aware of semi-automatic weapons. According to Arms and Armor in Colonial America, 1526-1783 by Harold Leslie Peterson, Congress wanted to use a repeating flintlock in the American Revolution, but it was too expensive to produce. To add on, some argue that nobody needs a semi-automatic weapon, but the Second Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights, not a bill of needs.

   Not only would a ban or extremely strict legislation on guns be unconstitutional, it would mostly only affect law-abiding citizens. American history shows that people will figure out a way to get goods illegally. For example, during the Prohibition era, people still had access to alcohol, illegally. Currently, people still have access to illegal drugs.

   Furthermore, there is no definitive evidence of a correlation between murder and gun ownership. An article from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported on the Small Arms Survey, and said that the United States, Switzerland, and Finland were in the top ten nations for gun ownership (cbc.ca). According to the United Nations, these nations rank only 83, 171, and 140 in homicide rates (indexmundi.com).  Of course, with fewer guns there will be less gun violence, but if somebody wants cause harm, they will find a way, gun or no gun.

   A common example people use when talking about gun violence is that Australia saw a drop in violent crime due to gun reform after the Port Arthur mass shooting. According to NBC, the shooting was the deadliest in Australia’s history, and it led to the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) and a mandatory government buyback program (nbcnews.com). According to the British Journal of Criminology, the NFA may have only influenced firearm suicides, and there was a decline in gun crime before it came into effect. Societal changes influenced observed changes (academic.oup.com).

   If stricter gun-legislation is not the answer, what is? First, the government needs to enforce the laws that are already in place. For example, the Parkland shooting could have been prevented. According to CNN, Nikolas Cruz showed several red flags, but the FBI and local law enforcement failed to do their job. He should never have been able to get a gun (cnn.com). In addition to this, gun-free zones should be removed. If the government can’t do its job, people should be able to defend themselves from threats. Senior Meto Pula said, “I’d rather have a gun and not need it than not have a gun and need it.” He added, “Being tried by 12 of your peers is better than being carried by six of them.”

   If anything, guns should be treated like cars in terms of licensing. One reason Switzerland has the highest gun ownership rate in Europe, but a homicide rate near zero is that people are required to learn how to use a gun, and to buy a gun, they have to prove they know how to use one (businessinsider.com).

   Guns are here to stay. Violence is inevitable. Taking guns away from law-abiding citizens or making guns harder to obtain successfully infringes on their right to bear arms and basic human right of self preservation. To prevent, or at least reduce violence, there needs to be societal change, and the government needs to do its job; mentally-unfit people shouldn’t be able to get guns in the first place. As George Washington once said, “A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined” (presidency.ucsb.edu).

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Point: Is Gun Control the Answer to the Violence Question?