Over one month after the Newtown massacre, people are still talking about tightening gun control in America. Here’s why that may not be a good idea.
After the horrific Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., a sense of fear gripped the nation. Stores pulled guns from their shelves. Cities organized gun buyback events. Lawmakers pledged to tighten gun laws. Bulletproof backpack sales spiked, and some kids even took guns to school for protection.
Through it all, the national debate turned once again to gun control: Should citizens even have guns? And what can we do to prevent future shooting tragedies? The Democrat party responded with clamor for more gun control. On Jan. 16, President Barack Obama signed three memorandums and announced 23 executive actions to help “reduce gun violence.”
His plan emphasizes stronger background checks, bans on “assault weapons,” and more emergency resources in schools. Last Thursday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2013” that would ban the sale, transfer, manufacturing and importation of more than 150 types of firearms, including rifles, pistols and shotguns. Feinstein is known for her anti-gun stance. She championed the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, which expired in 2004 and only banned 18 specific firearms.
Although, gun violence did drop in the 1990’s, a University of Pennsylvania study shows that the 1994 ban had too many loopholes and had no statistical effect on the number of mass shootings. Murder and violent crime rates continued to fall even after the ban expired. In addition to pressing for useless gun regulations, many Democrats also engage in political doublespeak. They talk about banning “assault weapons;” however, there is no set definition of an “assault weapon.” It is whatever a given individual wants it to be.
They are against “military-style weapons,” but these guns bear a purely cosmetic resemblance to military weapons and would never be used by the military. They speak of the dangers of “semi-automatic weapons,” which sounds scary until you realize that “semi-automatic” refers to any gun that can shoot more than once without reloading (nearly every gun that shoots is semi-automatic).
They talk about “reducing gun violence” and promoting “gun safety” (can you really argue against reducing violence or promoting safety?) instead of what they’re really doing, which is attacking our Constitutionally-guaranteed right to bear arms by tightening gun control laws. But no matter what terminology they use, gun control is not going to work, and here’s why:
Reason #1: There are already 300 million privately-owned guns in the U.S. In theory, a more strict gun law could work. In 1996, Australia implemented a strict assault weapons ban with few loopholes. The country banned all semi-automatic rifles and shotguns and spent $500 million buying approximately 600,000 guns from private citizens. But this isn’t Australia.
There are almost 300 million privately-owned guns in America, or about nine guns for every 10 people, which eliminates the possibility of a mass gun-buyback movement. Also, stringent gun control laws have long been politically unpopular in the U.S., especially among Second Amendment advocates. Gun sales soared, and over 100,000 Americans joined the National Rifle Association in wake of a possible gun crackdown.
Reason #2: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The Second Amendment guarantees the people a way to defend themselves, should the need arise. In past times, arming the population was a safeguard against possible government tyranny and dictatorship.
Today, many citizens still see their right to bear arms as an important means of self-defense; they also fear that gun control would be the first step towards the people’s rights being removed little by little. You can’t carry your guns around in public.
Now you can’t own these specific guns. Now your guns need to be under lock and key at all times. Soon you can’t have any guns at all–time to amend the Constitution. That’s an exaggeration, but you get my point. You give an inch and the government could take a mile.
Reason #3: Mass shooters don’t follow the law. Studies show that most criminals come by their guns illegally, often by theft or underground purchases. This allows them to completely bypass stringent background checks and other regulations. For example, Connecticut has one of the nation’s most strict gun laws. Gun owners must be 21 or older, apply for a local permit, be fingerprinted for a background check, wait for a 14-day period, and take a gun safety course.
But that didn’t stop Adam Lanza from simply stealing guns and killing 20 children and six adults at the Newtown shooting. Additional gun regulations would not have done anything to prevent the tragedy. Additional gun laws would also be difficult to enforce. Even Vice President Joe Biden admitted that the administration lacks the time to enforce existing gun laws on background checks, saying to an NRA representative, “We simply don’t have the time or manpower to prosecute everybody who lies on a form, that checks a wrong box, that answers a question inaccurately.”
Reason #4: Getting rid of guns does not get rid of violence. Some people think that if we just get rid of guns, violence will lower dramatically. Those people are naive, especially when only 2.6 percent of all murders are committed with some type of rifle.
Thomas Jefferson once quoted criminologist Cesare Beccaria on the dangers of disarming citizens. He said, “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 to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”
Criminals would continue finding ways to illegally acquire guns while robbing and attacking law-abiding citizens who suddenly have no means of self-defense.
Reason #5: The cause of mass shootings isn’t guns; it is mental health. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” at first seems like a stupid pro-gun argument. It sounds juvenile, and it is much too easy for liberals to counter with, “Well, people need the guns to kill people,” which is true.
The point is, we need to target the source of the problem, not the tools used. We need to talk about mental illness and how we can help provide services, resources and other support to those who need it. One mother posted her struggles with her mentally ill son onto her website titled “The Anarchist Soccer Mom.” She writes about how her son transitions between a sweet boy who loves Harry Potter and a terrifying, screaming boy who threatens to kill her. She pleads for people to realize the real problem behind mass shootings:
“I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am James Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.”