Caroline Deyrup ’21

Guns, in short, kill people.  Many buy them out of fear of criminals and for self-defense, but more gun-involved homicides have malicious intent or result in accidental injuries or deaths.  While some believe people should have the right to firearms because of the Second and Fourteenth Amendments, others believe that changes are needed.

Firstly, people do not need semiautomatic weapons. Semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 can have magazines of up to 100 rounds, accurately shoot 400 to 600 yards, and have a devastating variety of bullets. One may think that if these guns are so dangerous, then can we just prohibit semiautomatic weapons like the AR-15 and keep others legal? Only four-percent of homicides are with semi-automatic rifles, while seventy-one percent are with handguns. Handguns are so deadly because they are easy to conceal and carry around, have a fast reload time, and are semi-automatic. Because of this, there are countless scenarios in which children accidentally shoot themselves or others, like in Canyon County, CA, where a three-year-old shot a baby in the face by accident, or when four-year-old Bryson Mees-Hernandez shot himself in the head when he found a loaded handgun under his grandparents’ bed.

Wayne LaPierre, Vice President of the NRA (National Rifle Association), says that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.”  For every homicide deemed justifiable by the FBI, there are two accidental shootings. Also, in a scenario where the shooter is hidden like in the JFK assassination or the recent Vegas massacre, it could be too late before a ‘good guy’ shoots the criminal.

Perhaps the most swaying argument proposed by conservatives is the fear of tyranny. The Second Amendment, which acts as a shield for gun rights activists, states: “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.” To understand it, historical context is necessary. When the Constitution was written (late 1700s), most men between the ages of 16 and 60 were part of a militia, and they all carried guns; those who were not a member of the militia were required to pay a small fee. The militias acted as an army for a local community.  In this context, the Second Amendment supports that militias can protect communities from opposing militias with guns.  Although this could have been relevant in the 1700s, it is not now. Obviously, we no longer have militias, which is why some believe we must rely on citizens with guns to prevent tyranny.  LaPierre says that we need guns to keep the government “in check”, when in reality, federalism, which is found in the Sixth Article of the Constitution (not addressed as federalism in the constitution) keeps a balance between state and government.

Some may argue that if more strict gun laws were in places, guns would still continue circulating through underground trade and the black market, but if fewer guns were manufactured or acquired, access to deadly force would be more difficult  Also, the government could begin to press down on owners of illegal guns and increase the penalties.

Guns are one of the most controversial topics of discussion today, and for good reason. There is no perfect way of handling gun laws, but we can do our best and understand that change is not immediate. Stricter gun laws are needed; this will save lives.