-- 2nd Amendment, United States Constitution
How did the Constitution’s “well-regulated militia” turn into a “well-armed random populace”? And why should you support Obama’s gun safety proposals? President Obama, a Harvard law graduate and constitutional scholar, has proposed a more than reasonable policy to the mass shootings that have spiked dramatically in recent years (Virginia Tech, Aurora, Newtown, and Columbine.) People have opposed this policy, declaring that it infringes upon their Second Amendment rights. Obama’s gun safety initiative has three main proposals on gun control, including limiting large capacity magazines, universal background checks and “reinstating” the assault weapons ban that was in place between 1994 and 2004. I believe that these three proposals would assist in slowing gun violence.
In the 1930s, the U.S. government banned machine guns, because of the “gangster culture” during prohibition. President Franklin Roosevelt passed the National Firearms Act, thinking that this would take the machine guns and other rapid-fire weapons off the American streets. These were weapons of war in the hands of gangsters. Since then, it has been illegal for citizens to own a machine gun without permission from the US Treasury Department. Those who did had to fill out paperwork and pay a $200 tax. It was simply that society (and, obviously, the government) had decided that weapons of war weren’t good things. This act positively affected the harmfulness of mass destruction weapons in later decades.
President Bill Clinton, in 1994, through executive order, implemented an assault weapons ban that didn’t prove to work well. He, while moving in the right direction, did not go big enough. The ban wasn’t very effective and was easy to skirt. Obama plans to go bigger – he plans to strengthen the standing gun laws with 23 executive actions, which I believe will affect the commonness of gun violence.
Europe (specifically Britain) has strict gun control laws that have limited violence since spree shootings in the 80s and 90s. For example, because of these strict laws, Britain had 138 gun deaths in 2009, but in the same year America had nearly 10,000. However, there’s a major gap in population of these two countries (Britain and America), but if both countries had the same population, Britain has managed to stop 1/5 of the deaths that America wouldn’t have. Keith Krause, from the Small Arms Survey in Geneva, says that, “All throughout Europe gun ownership is treated as a privilege, not a right.” Of course, they don’t have a constitution that states that the people have rights to carry guns, but those 2009 statistics are very clear. Because of Britain’s tight laws, deaths have been limited.
After the December 2012 mass slaughter of elementary school students in Newtown, Connecticut, Obama called for the 23 executive actions, one of which (and one of the most necessary) is the need for universal background checks. Gun expert Jens Ludwig of the University of Chicago says that this could possibly have an impact on gun crime. He says that “anything that can add friction to that secondary market could prove very helpful.” To explain, this means that anything to slow this violence, to add “friction”, which, though it would be no cake show, would indeed be helpful. How could Obama’s initiative be well-enforced and why could this “prove helpful”? Well, according to Washington Post blogger Brad Plumer’s interview with Jens Ludwig, the gun expert’s “bottom line” is that universal background checks could probably reduce gun violence, by keeping assault style weapons out of the hands of those who should not have them. But since most criminals acquire their guns illegally anyway how are these backgrounds checks to be enforced? Granted that is a large problem – a loophole, but isn’t anything that makes it harder for criminals and the mentally unstable to acquire massively destructive weapons of war a good thing? Even if we can stop just one mass shooting in an elementary school, isn’t it worth trying? Isn’t it worth anything if we stop the deaths of children who might never have a life? Isn’t it worth an attempt instead of doing nothing, instead of running on empty with the hope that a mentally unstable will never get it into their heads to mow down moviegoers? Even if we can make it harder for one of these people to acquire these guns, isn’t it worth it? One Republican defense is that passing this law would increase gun violence. This would certainly not increase this violence. If anything it would decrease it. By not passing any law would be to allow these mass shootings to keep happening. However, some would say that passing a law would tip the balance between legal deals and illegal deals. In other words, passing Obama’s gun regulations would result in the opening of possible black markets. So the execution of these laws will have to be strong. In fact, so strong that it will be extraordinarily difficult for any dealers to slip under the radar.
Why “slip under the radar” unless you’re going to shoot up a school? Because these weapons (essentially) are fun to shoot? I can’t seem to understand what is well-meaning or important about these guns so much that they’re willing to bet lives.
All of the recent above mentioned mass shootings have been committed with assault weapons with high capacity magazines. Obama’s plan proclaims that he will, among others, limit those high capacity ammunition magazines. Again, this will not put an end to all the mass shootings, but it could certainly limit the carnage and make them less of a terrible threat. By definition high capacity magazines affect the ease of shooting many people without having to reload. These weapons are designed to be, in the barest sense, killing machines meant for war. Someone who is unstable could so easily spray bullets into a crowd unstoppably. The only real legitimate use of a weapon like that is in war and invasion. And what purpose are these guns serving outside of war and, apparently, mass shootings?
I’ve seen my father hunt with an ordinary rifle and kill a moose with one or two shots for subsistence, but some people seem to believe that they need 30-round magazines to do this (what else could be done?) and that is absurd. Or is there another unseen motive behind the desire to own these type guns? A lot of people in my life and out of it also seem to have the idea that President Obama is seeking to take away their guns. This is untrue. Obama has never said that it’s his intention to “take people’s guns away.” He’s not actually even violating the Second Amendment. Instead what he’s proposing is a reasonable compromise between Americans’ Second Amendment rights and the rights of everyone to be safe in their homes and public places. There is no way to prove that this ban curbs violence but if America wants to change its violent gun culture, we need to do the same as we did with machine guns for assault weapons. This would return our country’s gun-owning heritage back to its more noble beginnings. So in conclusion, I think that Obama’s gun control measures should be passed or, at least considered well and thoughtfully, for the safety of all Americans.