Editor, reporter share their views on gun control

The+opinion+favoring+an+increase+in+gun+control+has+become+more+relevant+and+controversial+recently.

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The opinion favoring an increase in gun control has become more relevant and controversial recently.

Maame Britwum

The 2nd Amendment provides that all Americans have the right to bear arms, and Americans have done exactly that. In the U.S. over 300 million guns are in circulation, and according the Congress Research Service there are more guns in the U.S. than there are people. Guns are part of American life, and unless the Constitution is amended, that will not change; however, the way that Americans can buy and sell firearms should have more requirements.

The number of guns in the U.S. is not the problem, who is able to obtain these guns and how they use them are. In the same way that we regulate who is able to obtain alcohol and cigarettes, we need make obtaining a gun more difficult along with an increased concern for mental health.

All other western nations have tougher gun regulation, less guns per capita (the U.S. leads with 88.8 guns per capita) and less gun related deaths. After a college student killed 14 people in 1989, Canada created the Firearms act of 1995 (non-police personnel are not allowed to carry concealed weapons). Similarly after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, Australia created more stringent gun regulations.

The number of guns in the U.S. is not the problem, who is able to obtain these guns and how they use them are.”

— Maame Britwum

Such tragedies are commonplace in the U.S. and even after a shooter in Newtown, Conn. killed 26 people, including 20 children, gun sales increased and laws on guns loosened. Buying a gun in the U.S. is substantially easier than most other developed countries. Few states require background or mental healths checks on the merchant or buyer.

Some argue that universal background checks are unnecessary because firearms are a constitutional right, but unlike other rights provided in the Constitution, guns have the ability to kill. As they say: “great power comes with great responsibility,” and having a killing machine is a great responsibility.

Comprehensive gun control laws would continue to let responsible Americans gain access to guns, while blocking those who have been deemed unable to properly handle a gun (whether through background checks or mental health evaluations) from getting one. In 2013 the CDC reported that firearms are the second leading cause of death in the U.S.: obviously there’s a problem. With every other leading cause of death, we work toward saving others from meeting such a fate; the same should be done with guns.

In a country where more states have voter registration laws with 10 cases of in-person voter fraud (News21), it would only make sense to have tougher gun control laws.


 

Evan Frook

There is not a gun violence problem in America. There is a violence problem in America. The tragedies that gain lasting infamy can strike a chord at the mere mention of the location: Columbine, Sandy Hook, Aurora.

To say that these events are not worthy of examination and reparation would be foolish at best and psychopathic at worst. To place the blame solely, or even mainly, on the guns involved would be equally foolish. The inclination to do so, however, is entirely understandable.

In the face of an incomprehensible and oppressive evil, it is a natural human tendency to find a scapegoat, to crucify the most definable object, to victimize something that, while a part of the problem, is not the source of it. Guns are being used as a scarecrow by people who are unable or unwilling to address the real problem.

These catastrophes are not perpetrated by or because of firearms. Guns do not even bear the largest burden of facilitating them. We do.

According to the Small Arms Survey, Switzerland ranks fourth in per capita gun ownership. In fact, every male aged 20-30 (with certain religious or moral exceptions) must have a firearm in their home – for drastic circumstances in which a civilian militia must be utilized. Though, importantly, Switzerland has not been in armed conflict since 1847, and then for less than a month.

Switzerland has had only one mass killing in their recent history.

Simply because of the gun culture in Switzerland: that of responsible ownership and mature views on the realities of criminal capability, per capita gun-related crime, especially mass killing, is fractions of the U.S.’s.

Mass killings are not committed because of the availability of guns, or any other weapons. They are committed because the criminals do not have even a basic respect for the value of human life. These sickening acts are done not because guns are wrong, but because the current American lifestyle perpetuates them.

In the face of an incomprehensible and oppressive evil, it is a natural human tendency to find a scapegoat, to crucify the most definable object, to victimize something that, while a part of the problem, is not the source of it. ”

— Evan Frook

It is vitally important that in the next stage of societal development, we fix these issues. It is clear that there is a problem. Mass killing are never an acceptable byproduct of the state of things.

The solution is not to ban firearms or to control ammunition, not to restrict them or to tax them exorbitantly. There are some measures that are reasonable – guns should not be given to the mentally incapable. They should not be given to repeated violent criminals, nor to legitimate enemies of the state.

However, the argument that heavy restrictions are justified if they ‘save even one life’ are inherently flawed. Arguing with the intent of compromise is the surest way to never accomplish anything.

At the risk of sounding political, I’m obliged to bring up the second amendment.

I won’t argue the right or left of it, the correctness or incorrectness of a political leaning, and won’t blame any particular group of people with a genuine interest in the political machinations of the current era.

However, I would be remiss if I did not mention that the government of the the United States is founded on the fear of the citizens, not the domination of them. Most of this is covered in the first amendment, arming us with things like the right to speech and assembly, but also in the second, that the government would be very literally afraid of a very literally armed populace. America is a government of, for, by, and afraid of the people.

If the bearing of arms can be defensibly safe, then it should not be controlled or restricted past that point. Defensibly safe can be achieved, with the least regulation, if we mend the culture that propagates killing.

Much of the problem lies in one industry. However, the capabilities of this industry are only as powerful and as varied, only extend as far as consumers blindly follow it.

The single greatest power of the American people is not our amended rights, nor our voting privileges. It is our buying power, and the things we have bought or bought into have fostered a society that is unable to arrive at their own conclusions. The biggest catalyst to this and best example is, unequivocally, the media.

What we see online, watch on tv, or, yes, read in newspapers, are mostly filtered, and critically diluted.

Unbiased reporting is nonexistent. Look at FOX, CNN, or this article, and you’ll see some bias. The issue is that we’ve allowed these media centers to dictate our thinking instead of dictating what they report on – by thinking. We are corralled into political parties, interest groups, and protest movements, and never arrive at our own conclusions.

As long as we are tricked into these two sides, no meaningful action can be made, especially on things like gun control. Legislative action won’t happen except in small, hollow doses when one party has a marginal lead in the mechanisms of an opaque government. An executive order, such as one of the 23 Obama announced on January 5 (a summary of which is available on the website for the National Conference of State Legislatures,) will do almost nothing, especially when not unilaterally backed by a party with a lead in both houses of congress.

An executive order does not legislate, and certainly can not defy the U.S. Constitution. The legality, much less effectiveness, of his actions, will be called into question. Though change must happen, without a serious rearrangement of the current political machine, nothing valuable will. The change must be a shift in the cultural climate.

The Small Arms survey also found Tunisia to have the lowest per capita gun ownership of surveyed countries, due to strict gun control laws of the Ben Ali regime then in power. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali is now sentenced to life in prison. One may see that as a non sequitur, but I remind those individuals that when a corrupt government wants complete power over its people, gun control is is high on the agenda.

In short, change must occur, but it never will as long as the electorate remains uninterested in politics, elects whoever their party nominates and irrationally opposes everything the other party supports. It never will as long as we allow our opinions to be dictated by news anchors, not evidence and experience. It never will as long as the gun control debate is used to mask a more serious problem with state of the States.