My name is Nick O. and I’m a senior. I had talked with Kara T, the faculty advisor to the Blophish, a couple of times about starting a column devoted to commentary and analysis of current events, and I’m finally happy to be submitting my first piece. I look forward to sharing my comments and synthesis of articles and literature I read outside of class as well as subjects, concepts, and experiences from the Contemporary Issues Club, a group I co-founded with Aidan T. that fosters the discussion of current events and politics. My aim is to write pieces that will help further my goal of promoting discussion on news happening outside the classroom.
A Solution To The Price of The Second Amendment
When Wayne Lapierre, the executive vice-president of the National Rifle Association (NRA) walked to the podium to begin the first press conference since the Newton mass- shootings after a week of complete silence by the NRA on social media, some thought that it he was going to announce a shift in the NRA’s traditional stance towards gun control. They were wrong.
Perhaps the NRA would change their stance if the public could grasp the fact that between suicides and homicides, 30,000 people die per year at the hands of firearms, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC). An account on Twitter came online right after the Newton shooting that pledged to share every gun “regardless of cause and without comment,” and the frequency with which a new tweet arrives is both saddening and staggering.
Conservatives believe strongly in the Second Amendment, especially the second part of the explicit text, which states, “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Democrats on the other hand point to the first part of the Amendment, which highlights the phrase “a well regulated Militia.”
President Clinton signed into law the infamous Federal Assault Weapons Ban on September 13th, 1994, five days before I was born, in a time I’m told was much less politically volatile. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence reported that crimes related to assault weapons dropped by 66% before the ban expired during the second Bush Administration. An assault weapons ban isn’t going to be the panacea for gun violence in general, after all mass shootings, like Columbine, still happened during the Assault Weapon years.
The unfortunate reality is that if a mentally ill or a nefarious person wants to commit an atrocity that will make his name on the cover of every major media source in the world, than he or she is going to find a way to do it. At the same time, if we take steps to make weapons of war, like the AR-15 (the most popular gun in America), harder to get, then maybe we can catch people in the process of acquiring their arsenal before they go to town.
My uncle gave me a Ruger .22 long rifle at age 13, much to the dismay of my parents. I love shooting, though I’m a lousy shot. I’ve taken friends out to shoot in rural Oregon, where it is as common for me to pull up next to a pick up truck blasting Rush Limbaugh as it is seeing a bicyclist in Downtown Portland. The fact is I’d be pissed too if Obama banned all guns, a concept mentioned by radical conservatives like Alex Jones (the guy who went on a long rant on how Obama is like Hitler and Stalin on CNN). But there is no such proposal. Obama’s proposal is not ‘an attack on the Second Amendment,’ as conservatives and the NRA have painted it to be. And let’s be real here. Biden owns two shotguns, and Obama shoots skeet “all the time” at Camp David. Obama isn’t going to take our guns away, so let’s stop pretending like he is.
Given the political climate of Washington (especially the fact that the way Congressional districts are drawn, most republican politicians don’t have to serve the public’s interests to get re-elected and there are pro-gun democrats in the House and the Senate), it’s extremely unlikely that Obama isn’t going to get his assault weapons ban or his ban on high capacity magazines.
If Congressional Republicans are going to block every piece of legislation related to Gun Control, (and that wouldn’t surprise many people; that has been the norm since Mitch McConnell declared the main goal to make Obama a one term president), can both sides at least agree that we need stronger background checks? Let’s get rid of the gun show loophole, where anyone, including convicted felons and mentally ill people can buy weapons with no background check. Create an actual deterrent for illegal sales of firearms. Make the penalties so rough, that firearms dealers and private sellers will have to follow the rules. The NRA has vehemently fought the government’s proposal to create a national registry of background checks and gun owners. Why? It’s an infringement of our liberty. No surprise there. How about we let the ATF do its job, and create a national registry so local and federal law enforcement can work together to stop mass-shootings. And let’s regulate ‘assault weapons’ not ban them. If you want to buy a suppressor or a fully automatic weapon, you have to apply for a permit. Why not put ‘assault weapons’ in this category—make people have to go through more paperwork to get them. That way they won’t get banned, and at the same time it will less easy to get them. As the President and the Vice President have said, if we can save one life, it’s worth it.
During Wayne Lapierre’s press conference, he blamed violent video games and other societal causes of gun violence, and called for an armed guard in every school in the nation. After all, the only thing stopping a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, right? There was a security guard at Columbine high school in 1999 and that didn’t stop students and teachers from getting killed. There was a man in the Clackamas Oregon Mall at the time of the shooting who had the gunman in his sights, but didn’t take the shot because he didn’t want to put other peoples’ lives at risk.
Three thousand people died on 9/11 in the worst tragedy of the 21st century. I’m not trying to diminish the enormity September 11th was by any means, but we should be thinking about how much our perceived Second Amendment ‘liberty’ means to us when we lose ten times as many people as 9/11 every year. We need ‘common sense’ gun reform as Democrats like to put it, and we need it now.
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