By Curt Myers
In 2012, we saw a surge in mass gun violence. Events such as the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo. and the Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin sparked outrage and fear throughout our nation and the world. Proponents of gun control and the most adamant advocates of the Second Amendment alike expressed both their sympathy and frustration. However, with the 24-hour news cycle constantly changing topics and the hectic nature of the presidential election cycle coverage, these events did not result in any major gun control discussion.
On Dec. 14, in a small town in Connecticut, the second deadliest school shooting in American history occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School. This massacre left 27 dead, the majority of who were children. The shock and outrage hit home with almost every American. Obama held a teary press conference expressing his condolences and many other elected officials across the country followed suit.
After the initial shock faded, the conversation turned to how to ensure that history does not repeat itself. It was at this juncture that the united front began to fracture. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) put forth her plan to present a gun control ban that would prohibit the sale and manufacture of all assault weapons along with any gun that has the capacity to hold a magazine any larger than 10 bullets (which would include most semi-automatic handguns).
National Rifle Association (NRA) President Wayne LaPierre held a press conference where he stated that armed security should be put in all public schools. I do not believe that armed security in public schools would increase safety enough to compensate for the environment created by having weapons outside of classrooms full of students as young as four. I do, however, believe that Feinstein’s bill is out of touch and out of line. I have three fundamental problems with widespread gun control: 1) individuals have the right to protect themselves and their loved ones, 2) law abiding citizens have basic rights until they prove themselves unworthy of them and 3) our constitution promises the people the right to bear arms.
Consistently when there are news stories of sexual assault, home invasion, robberies, etc., we hear that the victims of these crimes were “defenseless.” Arming oneself is the only way to make sure that an individual is never defenseless. The consensus on this issue used to be relatively bipartisan, with both parties believing that individuals have the right to use deadly force to protect their property and lives. In the last 15 years, however, this has become more of a wedge issue between the parties.
Since I have never violated a U.S. law, why should I not be allowed to purchase a gun if I am so inclined? Why should the actions of criminals take away rights from law-abiding citizens? When someone drives drunk and commits vehicular homicide, we do not take away drivers’ licenses or alcohol from law-abiding citizens. When drug abusers spread HIV because they share syringes, we do not ban the use of syringes for medical purposes. When someone commits arson and burns down a house, we do not ban the purchase of matches or lighters to other citizens. Why are guns treated differently? There are numerous protective and recreational uses for firearms, so why should a law-abiding citizen lose those uses because someone else commits a crime?
My final argument for why vast gun control is wrong for this country is also my simplest: our constitution promises it to us. There is a reason why the Second Amendment was created. Our country is a democracy and we are the freest country on Earth. Right now, that is a fact, but it is not something that can be taken for granted. Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. Throughout history, armed populations always have more power than their unarmed counterparts. When Nazi Germany and Communist Russia sought to control their populations, they took away the citizens’ right to bear arms. Of course, I am not comparing those in our country who advocate stricter gun control to Nazis or Soviets, since I know that they do so with the best intentions. They are trying to make us safer. I am pointing out that every action has unintended consequences. Disarming a population is one that takes a significant amount of power away from the people and gives it to the government, which I believe is never the right move.
Something needs to be done. I want to make sure that no one ever walks into an elementary school with the intent to kill ever again. A trip to the movies should be an innocent activity. But I do not believe that government legislation is where the change needs to come from.
Government legislation cannot change culture. We live in a culture that romanticizes violence, both in Hollywood and in video games. The hypocrisy coming from California is astounding. Feinstein comes from a state whose economy is dependent on the production of violent entertainment. Jamie Foxx came out shortly after the Sandy Hook tragedy vehemently opposing gun violence; while at the same time gaining financially from starring in the box office hit Django Unchained, one of the most violent movies in recent history. Perhaps it is time to resensitize ourselves to gun violence as opposed to desensitizing ourselves. Perhaps it is time to focus more on mental health issues, which were a factor in both the Aurora, Colo. Dark Knight Rises shooting and the Sandy Hook shooting. It is time to place responsibility back on the individual and not on an inanimate object.