by Jamie Neben
“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.” The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution
It’s impossible to make sense of the recent massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut because something so horrific is absolutely senseless. But one thing we can do, and certainly need to do, is try to figure out where to go from here, and the sooner the better. The conversation is sure to include topics such as mental illness, family values, and living in a culture that glamorizes violence. But the very hostile elephant in the room is the topic of gun control.
The U.S. Constitution guarantees its citizens the right to bear arms, so any perceived or real threat to that freedom makes many people understandably upset. Occasionally, like as we’re witnessing now, we see a drastic spike in new weapon purchases based on the fear that guns will soon be severely restricted. The fear is usually unfounded since the majority of those who want reform have not suggested that we go door-to-door and round up all the artillery, or even that we outlaw all future firearm sales. On the other hand, a growing number of voices are calling for some kind of action. They believe we cannot just stand by and do nothing at all. Not anymore. So we need a solution that preserves the second amendment but helps prevent future tragedies.
I am now supporting the cause to ban semi-automatic assault rifles such as the AR-15. While I was previously on the fence about this issue, we’ve seen too much bloodshed happening far too often, with the assault rifle often being at the center of the carnage. This is a weapon that is designed to fire off several rounds a second, and outside of a military or law enforcement context, I don’t know what useful purpose it has to serve society. This change would not impact sales of other guns that are already legal. But the AR-15 and others like it need to go.
I’ll list a few of the arguments against such a ban that I’ve been hearing and my responses to them.
Owning guns is a God given right.
Really? I’m no theological scholar, and I don’t presume to know how the Almighty feels about this issue. But unless I’m missing a chapter, I’ve neither seen nor heard any mention of guns in the Bible. Swords? Lots of them. Slingshots? You betcha. But no single biblical figure was ever struck by a bullet. Honestly, I don’t know how a loving creator would approve of an instrument that has prematurely ended so many lives already and continues to do so each year.
Banning any type of “arms” is unconstitutional.
First of all, how should we define arms? Bombs, hand grenades, and cannons would fall into that category but are considered illegal. The uproar is not exactly deafening. Most of us are also fine that fully automatic rifles are off the market. So what’s the big deal about extending that to the semi-automatic variety? We can still satisfy the intent of the second amendment as long as there’s access to other types of firearms, such as the types that were available when the bill of rights was actually drafted.
It won’t stop these violent attacks.
Of course, we’ll never eliminate all acts of violence. But what if we could reduce the number of deaths by even ten percent? What if we could keep someone from murdering a whole classroom of students in one fell swoop? Isn’t that worth trying? I don’t want to look a child (or anybody, for that matter) in the eyes and tell him or her that my right to own an AR-15 is more important than their right to live. Do you?
If everyone was armed, we would have a better chance of preventing attacks.
Is that a good idea? With all the short-tempered individuals walking around, do we really want them all packing heat? What about the schools? Are we going to turn all teachers into marshals? Or does that only come with tenure? The short answer is that we would only make the situation worse. We would have chaos and more innocent people would get hurt.
We have to protect ourselves from the government.
Nonsense. When’s the last we were under siege by our own government? I can understand that tyranny was a valid concern in our nation’s infancy, given the common practice of the British monarchy. Our history and values are just not consistent with that reality. If there were to be a foreign invasion, I concede that assault rifles might actually be necessary. In that case, perhaps each town can store them in an armory, sealed from the public. Although this seems like an exception, it still does not put the rifles in the hands of the general public.
Many who buy semi-automatic rifles are collectors.
Ok, fine. Here’s another possible solution. Let’s sell the guns but stop manufacturing the ammunition. We’d have to prevent the bullets from getting into our country from other places, but if we could, I’d be all for this alternative. Then we could do away with waiting periods and background checks!
It’s too soon to have this discussion.
Guess what? It’s always too soon and then it’s too late. How long are we supposed to wait after a tragedy? What happens if another attack occurs while we are still healing? Whether it’s Columbine High School, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Tucson, and so on, we’ve waited long enough. The possible victims of tomorrow need us to act now. Let’s do it.
Let’s save lives.