Guns: compromising on the control

Editorial - Guns

Every few years, a shooting shocks the nation so dramatically that it brings the topic of gun control back into the public dialogue.

In 1999, it was the Columbine school shooting that left 13 dead including the two shooters; in 2007, the Virginia Tech Massacre, the worst shooting in American history, which left 32 dead; and July 2012, a shooter walked into a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado and killed 12 people and injured many more.

As seemed to be the cycle with these shootings, gun control and changes to the Second Amendment dominated discussion in the political sphere.

The pro-arms side declared that the shootings are evidence that the citizens need more guns to protect themselves and their families, while the pro-gun control side said that a weapon in the hands of any citizen is an invitation for more violence.

This would continue for some undetermined amount of time, but would eventually lose priority as other matters made their way to the forefront.

This was the cycle. And then the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting happened.

Ranked as the second worst shooting in U.S. history by The Washington Post, Sandy Hook brought shootings into a new light.

The difference between this shooting and all the rest was that the majority of the 26 victims were our most innocent citizens—our children—and the rest were those who dedicated their lives to teaching them.

Like it or not, there will likely be changes in gun control as the president and congress prepare to suggest new measures on the matter.

Those lobbying for much stricter gun control laws can point to the low rate of gun-related violence in countries like the U.K., which saw only 138 gun-related deaths in 2009, compared to the 31.6 thousand in the U.S. that same year according to a study by the University of Sydney.

However, the fact remains that there are too many guns in the U.S. to simply impose a universal gun control policy.

In 2011, the Small Arms Survey, a survey based out of Geneva, estimated that there are 270 million guns in the U.S. Many have been used in the defense of home and family as was the case on Friday, January 4 when Melinda Herman, a mother working from home in Georgia, shot an intruder to defend herself and her two small children.

The fact of the matter is that a compromise must be made between the two sides. Below are some possible solutions to lower gun violence:

 

Gun Registration for all Firearms

Just as all cars need to be registered to their owners, so should all firearms. While some states require permits or licenses for weapons such as handguns and assault weapons, most require no such registration for shotguns and rifles. A lack of firearm registration means little to no accountability for gun owners.

 

Harsher Punishments for Illegal Possession:

According to a census taken of the laws pertaining to illegal firearm possession by the Department of Justice, most states treat this crime as a misdemeanor with only a monetary punishment and community service. While most states have the right to give jail time to those found guilty, only 15 can give a sentence of a year or more.

 

Restrict Automatic/Assault Weapons:

Automatic/assault weapons have no place in average citizens’ hands and have been used in five of the 12 worst shootings in the country, according to The Washington Post. While gun collectors enjoy having these as part of their collection, they are most commonly used for military/police purposes, not defending one’s home or game hunting.

The argument of whether guns kill people or if people kill people is irrelevant. What is important to know is that firearms are potentially dangerous tools that require a certain amount of responsibility that our country currently lacks.

The bad guys will always find a way to do bad things, heinous crimes will be committed and lives will be senselessly lost. But these small changes could mean that our children are a little safer from shootings like Sandy Hook.

9 Responses

  1. Max Gurel says:

    I take issue with this article. Not the subject matter, but the lack of professional journalism. On a national issue as important as this, your carelessness, (or worse, editorializing) can mislead, misinform, and damage your audience and the country as a whole.

    Let me point out a few things that you might have overlooked:

    “Restrict Automatic/Assault Weapons:

    Automatic weapons have no place in average citizens’ hands and have been used in five of the 12 worst shootings in the country. While gun collectors enjoy having these as part of their collection, they are most commonly used for military/police purposes, not defending one’s home or game hunting.”

    First of all, what five shootings? That is a simple lie, not one of your “five worst shootings” involved an automatic weapon at all.

    Should they be banned? They already are. They were mandatorily registered in 1934 (when they were invented) and they were banned completely in 1986

    Now are automatic weapons still used in crimes? Why, yes they are. There are thousands of illegal ones in the hands of criminals. They either make their own (which is not hard to do) or they are smuggled in (usually by the same people that are able to smuggle in thousands of tons of drugs (which are also banned)). Because really serious criminals simply don’t care, they are able to get ahold of military weapons, and they use them simply because criminals, by definition, don’t obey the law. So even an item which has been basically banned since your great grandparents were kids, and which there has been no new ones allowed manufactured since your parents were in elementary school, still ends up in the hands of any criminal who really wants one. This will go to show how effective government bans are.

    Also, the University of Sydney? the FBI states a number more like one sixth that size. According to the CATO Institute and FBI statistics, when guns were banned in the UK, armed robbery rates jumped 40%. In Australia, armed robbery rates increased 40%. The UK’s violent crime rate is 2,034 per 100,000 people compared to the United States’ 466 violent crimes per 100,000 people. The European Union says that the UK is the “Most violent country in all of Europe.” Is that what “those lobbying for stricter gun control laws” are pointing to?

    The facts that you are stating here are gravely skewed or simply wrong. I am assuming that you threw this article together at the last minute, or that you simply don’t care about the issue, or that you just ‘borrowed’ the first ‘facts’ that you found on google. I am disappointed that the Scroll is willing to publish articles like this about issues this important without holding to some standard of honest journalism.

  2. Sam Clemence says:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/nation/deadliest-us-shootings/

    Washington post recorded the top 12 worst shootings in American history. Numbers 4, 5, 10, 11, 12 all involved automatic/assault weapons.

  3. Max, you should come write for the sports column. It’s way easier on your blood pressure.

  4. Honestly, I have accidentally deleted my comments at least three times. I guess the advantage is that I am getting frustrated when tends to temper my desire to pontificate. I honestly believe this was a well-written, especially for an Opinion column. I feel the beauty of this type of column is the word “opinion.” I expressing an individuals thoughts and ideas about a very sensitive issue I felt it was direct and too the point. I do not necessarily agree that many of these solutions will help much, but I do agree that something needs to be done. I also feel there needs to be more open dialouge and discussion on this issue, not open war between pro and anti-gun control. I do not feel it was mentioned anywhere that the author was an expert, or the difinitive authority, just a newswriter stating opinion and I would hope promoting open discussion. Many changes are coming, hopefully at the national and state level. This is our time to learn all we can to be effective in inacting and supporting that we reduce or hopefully eliminate such tragedies. I grateful for the facts, and opinions expressed in this article and thought given into writing. I also must appreciate Max Gurel for being able to state his opinion. Still I will say that I am not impressed with the attempt to undermine an arguement by attacking the author and his credibility. Now is the time to focus on the issue, and dialouge can only exist if we all decided to at least acknowledge the validity of each others opinions. As we discuss this very important and even volatile subject, let us stick to the subject at hand. I would go into my thoughts on this issue, but that would require another probably much longer post backed by research.

  5. Grace Hansen says:

    I really enjoyed this article. I thought it was well researched and presented both sides fairly. The issue of gun control is so controversial right now that it can be easy to fall onto one side or the other, but I thought this piece maintained its objectivity very well.

  6. Max Gurel says:

    You stated clearly that:
    “Automatic weapons have no place in average citizens’ hands and have been used in five of the 12 worst shootings in the country.”

    And according to your source (not cited?) not a single one of those involved an automatic weapon, hence my comment.

    If you want to broaden your generalizations to include ‘assault’ weapons, that’s a different story (and not what you stated in the article). Unfortunately, “assault weapons” can include just about anything, by definition ALL weapons used to assault people are assault weapons. Politicians and reporters are freely making up their own definitions of the term almost daily, but the least you could do is define what you’re talking about.

    I’m not arguing opinions here, I was giving you some advice as a journalist. Although if you want a career in today’s irresponsible and dishonest media, I think you’re on the right track.

  7. RexWarner says:

    Max settle down. You cant help someone by insulting them.

  8. clurker says:

    AMENDMENT II

    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.

    What does that mean? It means that my right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed…in any way. Banning assault or automatic weapons IS an infringement. Registering my guns IS an infringement. If the main purpose of the Second Amendment is to protect from government tyranny, why would I want to reveal what I own lawfully/legally. I don’t have to justify why I have a gun or the types of guns I own. The weapon isn’t the problem. The heart of the citizen is the problem. Government doesn’t fix the heart, God does. That’s bottom line. You cannot regulate people into integral goodness.

    Some people say that the founders didn’t meant to protect the right of an average citizen to have an automatic weapon in his hands. So does that mean we should also infringe on the First Amendment because the founders couldn’t possibly have seen an average citizen utilizing the internet? Sounds absurd, right?

    Consider when the Second Amendment was written. “Average citizens” just fought off a tyrannical government in order to gain access to their inalienable rights. They saw firsthand that the more we allow government to infringe upon our personal lives the more control we give up. I and my husband are the primary stewards for our home, not the government. That is a God given right. And not only is it a right to protect but a duty. My husband served this country in active duty and now as a civilian to protect freedoms. That includes the freedom guaranteed in the First Amendment to make false claims and be vile. Just because we don’t like what some people have done illegally doesn’t mean we punish law-abiding citizens. And here’s a thought. Maybe we should refer to a reliable source on gun statistics and violent crime. http://www.fbi.gov

    I will leave you with some words of wisdom from someone who has an intimate understanding of the Second Amendment.

    The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.-Thomas Jefferson

    “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms..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 prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed one.” – Thomas Jefferson quoting Cesare Beccaria, Criminologist in 1764. That was 230 years ago.

  9. I stand with the second amendment through and through. I support gun rights. However, those feelings aside, I feel as though this is quite poorly written. Thank you for the reminder of all the bad things that have happened because of bad people with guns in the past two decades, though.

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