The American people are faced yet again with tragedy. As we know, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida was the scene of a mass shooting this week. This is truly a national tragedy, and our hearts all break for the students and their families. Now is the time to come together in solidarity, comfort those in pain, and show that no act of terror or any evil will shake the spirit of our great nation.
Some people immediately jumped at the opportunity to politicize this horrific event before all of the facts were even known. Twitter was filled with people shouting for gun control, or even outright gun bans. Most of the gun control proponents very rarely have real policy proposals. They would much rather hide behind their slogans and virtue signaling. They shout “gun control” into the sky and attack anyone who disagrees with them. This is the opposite of legislative productivity. Here are a few common gun control arguments and why they are completely misguided.
AN ASSAULT RIFLE BAN IS THE SOLUTION
First, it is important to note that the term “assault weapon” is extremely misguided and was created by anti-gun advocates for fear mongering purposes. Yet this is a common term used, most likely intentionally, by leftist media and other anti-gun folks. The term means nothing, but it has become a part of our vernacular. Even many gun rights proponents accept this mischaracterization.
The argument calling for assault weapon bans is a common one, and one that has absolutely no statistical or practical evidence to substantiate it. In fact, FBI statistics show that rifles only contribute to roughly 2% of all gun homicides. Yet, people love to demonize them because they are big and look scary. People also forget that the United States actually had an assault weapon ban for 10 years. From 1994-2004, assault weapons were illegal in the United States. During this time, the law was ineffectual in terms of keeping assault weapons out of the hands of private citizens and in terms of lowering the gun violence rate.
The data above comes from studies done by Mother Jones, National Research Council, and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Basically the conclusion was that banning assault weapons yielded inconclusive data on the correlation between gun ownership rates and crime rates. There was no statistically significant evidence whatsoever that could prove the federal ban to be successful. There are two main reasons for this: the government is not a very efficient body (creating regulations for 300 million people is not something it can always handle) and criminals will always find ways to circumvent any law we put on the books.
That is literally what makes them criminals; they tend not to care about the law.
IT IS EASY TO BUY A GUN
This also could not be further from the truth. The purchase and sale of firearms are actually heavily regulated at the federal and state level. There are forms, purchase permits, safety courses, waiting periods, background checks, limits on the amount you can purchase at one time, limits on when and where you can carry, and laws specific to each respective state. In this argument, gun control proponents also love to bring up the gun show loophole. They like to say that anyone, even criminals can purchase guns at a gun show in order to circumvent laws on the books for licensed gun dealers. This has been debunked as well.
THE SECOND AMENDMENT DOES NOT APPLY TO ALL WEAPONS
There is some truth to this. In fact, the Supreme Court took on a case about this when Washington D.C. tried to ban handguns. Handguns account for more than 80% of gun deaths, 2/3 of which are suicide. Nobody talks of banning handguns today though. Why? This is thanks in part to the ruling of District of Columbia v. Heller which affirmed that the second amendment protects the right of the individual to keep and bear arms unconnected with service in a militia and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes such as self-defense within your home. The court ruled that handguns are protected by the second amendment. Below is a quote from Justice Scalia, who wrote the concurring opinion:
There seems to us no doubt, on the basis of both text and history, that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms. Of course the right was not unlimited, just as the First Amendment’s right of free speech was not.
The truth is, we do not know whether or not it is constitutional to ban assault weapons. We can argue the merit or whether or not it will work, and we can back that up with solid statistics and proof through history that it does not. However, it becomes a much more complex problem when we really break down the constitutionality of which guns are, and are not, protected under this right.
Whenever horrific events like this occur, people immediately jump to politicizing it, and use it to further their own policy platforms. This is of course evil, and solves nothing. Gun control advocates use emotional appeal to act as though one more law on the books will somehow prevent these repugnant acts, rather than pushing to enforce the laws already on the books. The reality is, the federal government is not very efficient at what it does already. One more law, or a few new words will not make the government suddenly become effectual in its goals. This only serves to make us feel good, and to make us feel like we are making real change. In reality, it is all smoke and mirrors. The second amendment is an integral part of our democracy. The founders knew this, and felt strongly about this. For a better understanding of the second amendment, or any other rationale behind the constitution, I highly recommend that you read The Federalist Papers, or any other writings from some of the founders. These provide historical reasoning for why the founders included what they did into the U.S. Constitution.
We do have a serious problem in this country. We do have a culture of violence like no other country has ever seen. Nobody is happy about this, and it is something to which we all strive to find workable solutions. We should unify behind universal ideas. There are common sense gun safety regulations that the NRA, and citizens alike can get behind. My general stance is that I support any safety measure put on the process of purchasing and transferring guns, so long as those processes do not put an undue burden on law-abiding citizens or inhibit them from exercising their fundamental right to keep and bear arms. We must be careful to operate within constitutional barriers at all times. The million dollar question here is: How do we keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them, while also protecting law-abiding citizens from being stripped of their rights?
It is a complex question, and one that may take a while to solve. But the most important thing is that we need to have open discussion about the topic. This starts with judging people as individuals, and ending the notion that society is guilty for the actions of one. I am reminded of a quote by Ronald Reagan:
“We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the law-breaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”