Few things cause more political fighting and fallout than a mass shooting and its subsequent aftermath and cries for gun control.
With the horrific news of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting last December, politicians have been taking a closer look at guns and how to increase public safety. President Barack Obama proposed a new gun ban on Jan. 16 which includes various issues such as a limited number of bullets in a magazine, a ban on assault rifles, and stipulations on who can have these guns.
Many are confused about what exactly the Second Amendment includes. There is a common misconception that this law protects the right of hunting and recreational gun use. However, the Second Amendment really protects our right to have guns to defend ourselves. By limiting what guns we have, politicians are in danger of restricting our rights as clearly stated in the Bill of Rights.
Politicians are fighting to ban assault rifles, for example, claiming that the average citizen does not need such weapons. However, many politicians cannot accurately define what an assault rifle is. If a weapon is classified as an assault rifle, it depends mainly on how the ammunition is shot from the gun. Many politicians are seeking to ban semi-automatic guns and guns that look intimidating rather than looking at the true classification of the weapon.
But according to the Second Amendment, the government cannot infringe on our rights to keep and bear arms. This has been backed up by a Supreme Court District of Columbia versus Heller case, stating that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for self-defense within the home. More than 200 years ago, revolutionaries fought for our rights and freedom from an oppressive government that had overstepped its bounds. Soldiers continue to fight for our rights today around the world. Can we let that sacrifice be wasted by voluntarily allowing the government to restrict our rights?
Another issue of the gun ban is the limiting of 10 shots per magazine, with the argument that the time spent trying to reload could result in the loss of fewer lives. However, even if this statement could be guaranteed, we face the reality that many attackers have several weapons with them, often eliminating the need to reload.
This restriction punishes more law-abiding citizens than felons. While trying to defend ourselves, a 10-shot magazine may not hold enough ammunition as we could be shot when trying to reload. Car accidents have a higher rate of deaths than guns on average, yet there is no limit to how many cars a person could have, nor how fast a car can go. There is no legal reason to need to go above 80 miles per hour, yet many cars have the capability to go twice that amount.
The real problem with the violence in our society cannot be solved by banning certain guns or weapons. Criminals will get the banned guns if they desire; it doesn’t matter to them if they break the law, as they are already breaking it by committing murder. Those who committed the mass shootings that have plagued our nation were not legally allowed to have the guns they did.
By banning these guns, we are not punishing criminals or making it harder for them; we are punishing the law-abiding citizens in this country and making it harder for them to defend themselves. The solution is found in enforcing the gun laws we already have. We have several gun bans set in place, such as the Gun Control Act of 1968, which prohibits the selling of firearms to the mentally ill or those who have been convicted of a crime.
One of the biggest measures that can be taken in order to prevent tragedies, like the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, is to place an armed officer in every school. This drastically reduces the time it takes for first responders to arrive, and can save many lives as the officer would be able to react to the threat immediately.
Some claim this option is too expensive for us to put in place, yet we spend billions supporting many other countries, and fighting wars overseas in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.
We have money for things politicians deem important. If protecting our children is as important or as high a priority as many politicians claim, they will find a way to put an officer in every school.
Overall, while it is crucial to find a solution to prevent these horrid shooting tragedies from continuing, lawmakers and politicians need to focus first on enforcing the laws already in place, rather than invoking new laws.
Meghan Jones is a junior at Bonneville High School who enjoys writing and photography. Contact her at email@example.com.