There are a lot of guns in this country. This is obvious. There are also a lot of people who love guns in this country. This is even more obvious. Guns are part of Americans culture. Think of American favorite movies. There was probably a gun in there somewhere. From Dirty Harry, with his .44 magnum, to Tony Montana, with his machine gun rocket launcher, guns are in the media daily. When there is a subject of something as influential as guns, there are always some strong opinions. The recent controversy is regarding what to do about the recent outburst of gun violence. There are a multitude of opinions on what to do and what not to do. Since this is the opinion editorial, I also have one.
Before we get started I would like to bring up that I do not own a gun. I simply do not need one. There are three main reasons to legally own a gun and I do not fit in any of these. The first is that you want to defend yourself. This is the most reasonable reason to own a gun. You may live in a bad neighborhood or have to travel late at night. I have the luxury not to worry about this. West Chester seems like a safe enough place to live without arming yourself. The second reason to owning a gun is for hunt. Hunting is not a hobby of mine, so I do not need a gun. The third and final reason is that people believe that they need a gun to protect themselves from the government. I do not believe the government is going to turn into a tyrannical dictatorship any time soon, so I do not feel the need to arm myself. The first two are completely reasonable points to own a gun. The third I have some problems with. Certain gun advocates believe the Second Amendment gives us the right to be armed so we can fight. This harkens back to the Revolutionary period of America. They claim that the Constitution gives American the right to be armed so they can defend themselves from the government. Americans could fight against their own government as they did against the British. My problem with this is that if the Constitution gives Americans the right to fight back against their government, then should they not have access to military weaponry? There must be some kind of limit as to what kind of arms one can bear. This brings us to the subject of assault weapons.
In the future I may own a hand gun, but I would never own an assault weapon. Frankly I do not see the purpose of owning one. You do not need an assault weapon to protect yourself. For example if you want to scare off a burglar inside your house, a handgun would suffice. On the issue of hunting, using an assault would just seem unsportsmanlike. As for protection against an insidious government, I simply believe the situation will not be that dire. Politicians have been mulling over a nation-wide ban on assault weapons. On banning assault weapons, I must admit I am ambivalent. This may seem strange considering how the top of the paragraph opened, but I will explain. Assault weapons should probably be banned, but a ban will greatly decrease gun deaths. Let us look at when the old ban on assault weapons expired in 2004. Since then shootings-per-year have doubled and the number of gun victims-per-year has almost tripled. These are telling statistics, but do they have relevance? The United States Department of Justice and the National Institute of Justice found renewal would have little impact. You would also have to take into account the great number of guns in this country already. If we were to ban guns tommorrow, we would have to deal with all of the weapons already in circulation. The illegal gun market would also most likely grow. However, it would not be too problematic because assault weapons are not used in little crimes when compared to hand guns. When assult weapons are used in murders it is usually done in the mass shootings we have seen in recent months. A ban on the weapons may prevent another Sandy Hook. So all in all, we would probably be better off with an assault weapon ban even if the effect is minimal.
While a universal ban on assault weapons is controversial, universal background checks are not. There is a near unanimous consent that if you want a gun, then you should go through a background check to check your elgibility. A universal background check is entirely sensible. Whatever legislation comes out of the gun control debate, universal background checks is sure to be part of it. Future legislation should do away with the gun show loophole. The aptly named “gun show loophole” refers to the fact that many people can purchase guns at gun shows free of background checks. A background check or even an assault weapon ban would not impede on Americans’ Second Amendment rights. The U.S. is a nation of gun holders, and that does not have to change. America should become a nation of more responsible and sensible gun owners.
Jack Barnett is a fourth-year student majoring in history and political science. He can be reached at JB723722@wcupa.edu.