Intro

As a young American man who owns guns and shoots for sport, guns can not only be an excellent hobby, but an essential tool for protection and providing for your loved ones. I believe that there shouldn’t be a ban on certain firearms, but instead have a much more extensive security system to put these firearms in the hands of responsible people. I will show the concerns that come with my proposal, and represent the opposition to the best of my ability.

Definitions

Assault Rifle – any various intermediate-range, magazine-fed military rifle that can be set for automatic and semiautomatic firing

Ban – To prohibit especially by legal means

Firearm – A weapon from which a shot is discharged by gunpowder – usually used of small arms

Massacre – an indiscriminate or brutal slaughter of people

Mass Shooting – a shooting where four or more people were either injured or killed

References

Opposing Perspectives Literature Review

Gun control has been one of many hot topics of debate within just the past two decades. It has been talked about prior to then, but it has been a topic of debate that’s been growing in popularity since the rise of mass shootings in public places like schools, movie theaters, and big corporation offices such as Google. Defining gun control and what guns need control requires some explaining, examples of what gun control has done for other countries, and how a lack of gun control can affect even specific states here in the US.

In an NBC News article by Jon Schuppe, an investigative journalists who writes articles relating to crime and justice, helped define the topic at hand. He says,

“The root of the debate is a single sentence in the U.S. Constitution, where the Second Amendment says: ‘A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall no be infringed.’ The interpretation of that line separates those who believe in more regulation of firearms and those who see any such legislation as an infringement on their individual liberties.” Schuppe also ran a poll regarding how people felt about gun control, and whether gun laws should be more, less, or any more strict than they already are. Gallup polling indicates that about 60 percent of the sample say gun laws should be more strict, 5 percent say less strict, and 33 say they shouldn’t be changed. He also gathered data from another poll from Quinnipiac University in February 2018 where 66 percent supported gun restrictions, and 31 percent did not. This debate is hard to tackle, but Schuppe hits the nail right on the head when it comes to finding where the root of this debate comes from (Schuppe, 2018).

In March 2016, The Guardian released at article regarding how the Port Arthur shooting in April 1996 changed Australian gun legislation. Calla Wahlquist, a Guardian reporter, described the shooting as follows: “In little over half an hour the death toll would be 35, and 23 wounded. It became the worst single-person mass shooting in Australia’s history; and is still the third worst recorded worldwide” (Wahlquist, 2016). This shooting was a national tragedy, and Australia’s government took action as fast as they could. “Port Arthur was our Sandy Hook,” says Tim Fischer, who was the leader of the National Party at the time of the massacre. “Port Arthur was acted on. The USA is not prepared to act on their tragedies.” Wahlquist also stated the following: “Some restrictions have been relaxed and in many states, New South Wales in particular, shooters’ organisations are getting their voice heard by government.” and a line later, brings up this statistic, “Nonetheless, there have been no mass shootings in the 20 years since Port Arthur; in the 20 years before it there were 13. The number of deaths by gunshot wound, which was already declining at a rate of 3% a year before the reforms, declined at a rate 6% a year post-1996, according to a study co-written by Alpers and Simon Chapman.” Wahlquist also added this statistic, “Research by a Wilfrid Laurier University academic and former economist with the Australian treasury, Christine Neill, and then Australian National University academic and now federal Labor MP, Andrew Leigh, published in the American Law and Economics Review in 2010, found the buyback cut the rate of firearm suicides by 74% in the first 10 years, saving 200 lives a year” (Wahlquist, 2016). This statistic exemplifies the effect of reimbursing people for the guns they trading in and how that cut the suicide rates by a significant margin. Saving 200 lives a year in 10 years saves a grand total of 2,000 people, which is also in turn supporting those lives with the money they got from their guns.

With all these statistics thrown at us, what does Wahlquist want to get at with this information? Well, she wants give evidence supporting a potential gun control legislation here in the US. We have a lot of problems with gun violence in this country, and Wahlquist is supportive of stricter gun laws.

Dick’s Sporting Goods is a major sports outfitter with stores all over the US. In most sports outfitters, many types of guns are for sale, including semi-automatic firearms capable of fully-automatic fire. Alina Selyukh, an NPR correspondent and reporter, wrote an article regarding Dick’s tougher gun sale regulations made my the CEO of the company, Ed Stack. Ed Stack then said this regarding the Parkland High School shooting that happened in Florida, “I’m not embarrassed to say I’m viewed as a relatively tough guy, but I wouldn’t characterize myself as a crier. And that weekend, I watched those kids, and I watched those parents, and I hadn’t cried as much since my mother passed away.” One year after the Parkland Shooting, Dick’s changed in gun sales policy so the outfitter no longer sells the semi-automatic rifles that were used in the shooting, along with any military-style, or assault-style weapons. However, this didn’t go over well with many people, including the area where the chain started, and workers who quit their job because of the change. One such worker was Griffin McCullar, a 20 year old who worked at a Dick’s in North Carolina. This worker was later mentioned in Stack’s 62 resignations. Stack said the following regarding this story, “It’s OK to have different views, we just have to respect each other and have a civil conversation” (Selyukh, 2019). With big sports outfitters like this, Selyukh wanted to provide an example of a company that had sold weapons used in these shootings and how they dealt with the issue of gun control. This article showed that with baby steps like this, big legislation on gun control can be managed and dealt with civility.

In a USA Today article by Eliza Collins, a USA Today political reporter, wrote an article about former congresswoman Gabby Gifford, who is making waves of activism in the fight for more gun control legislation. However, this activism didn’t really take off until she was shot in an assassination attempt. She did survive, but this was the spark to help her promote gun control, which in turn helped her support youth activism of gun control as well. Collins helps provide details regarding recent legislation about gun control: “On Wednesday, Democrats passed a bill that expands the background checks to include private transactions, such as purchases online and at gun shows. Thursday the House passed another measure that would extend the number of days firearms dealers must wait to proceed with a sale from three to at least 10 days.” This is recent legislation passed in February 2019 that helps keep track of all gun purchases, and increased the time it takes to perform a sale. This will help keep track of gun sales to keep a better head count on the amount of guns we have. This bill is also bipartisan, which big for the overall issue. Collins goes into a bit more detail: “H.R. 8, the bill that passed Wednesday, garnered support from eight Republicans. Thursday’s bill, H.R. 1112, got support from three Republicans. Giffords hopes her message will help boost bipartisan support over time.” This could be the beginning of a sweep of gun control legislation that many people have been asking for since shootings that happened 20 years ago. Collins purpose for the article was to show that activism can translate to legislation with enough time, and continuing forward by including other in these activist groups can make a real difference in our country (Collins, 2019).

John F. Seymour, a 40-year old resident of Arlington, isn’t happy with the Republicans in Richmond when it comes to passing gun control legislation. Seymour says, “As in past years, Northern Virginia representatives to the state Senate and House of Delegates proposed a package of common-sense and popular gun-control measures, but non survived committee review.” Seymour’s frustration with this isn’t necessarily that what he wants passed isn’t getting passed, but rather, that they aren’t passing anything including what the Republicans promise to pass. He also said, “Guns in schools? Republicans have not yet been successful in amending the current law to allow the arming of schoolteachers, and Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) recently issued an opinion concluding that Virginia law does not allow for the arming of school teachers and administrators.” This is the root of Seymour’s frustration with the Republicans. They offer solutions, but don’t get them amended in even one state. This makes gun control legislation go nowhere, gaining no traction in Republican states due to this core issue (Seymour, 2019).

There is one thing that all these articles have in common besides gun control, and that thing is called action. What each article is wanting is that take action where action is needed, and it’s making slow and steady strides to bigger and better steps in gun control. This is an issue that requires more than that, and each article helps entails what we need to do to possibly solve this issue.

References

Aligning Perspectives Literature Review

Gun rights proponents believe gun rights are a vital building block to the United States as a nation. After gaining independence from an oppressive government across the sea, the US wanted to establish a nation based on freedom, where the people held the power rather than the government.

One of the 10 original amendments part of the Bill of Rights, reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Banning any firearm from purchase is an infringement of this fundamental right. However, if we can come to a compromise about this issue, we can make it so people who have violated the laws of this country have a much harder time acquiring a weapon, if even allowing them to have a weapon. If we do come to a compromise, we all have come together, rather than exclude each other from possible progress in this issue.

A National Post article writes about an high school in Rockford, Illinois participating in the National School Walkout on March 14, 2018. During this protest against school shootings, Madison Oster, 16, and five other students decided to show support for gun rights. However, Oster claims her civil rights were violated during this march. Oster and her father, Jeremy Oster, filed a lawsuit against the school, which stated the following: “One student yelled at Madison to kill herself. Another student took of pictures of Madison’s group, one of which became an online meme and method of ridicule among other HCHS students,” and later stated regarding violation of her rights “by selectively banning her viewpoint about gun right and school safety” (National Post, 2018) This kind of discrimination makes it harder for either party to make strides towards a compromise between the sides of this issue. This was only a high school protest. Imagine the kind of discrimination that would happen in a mass scale protest like Black Lives Matter, or something of that size. Each side should be heard, regardless of their view on this issue.

In article by the Harvard Gazette, Corydon Ireland, a scientific writer with a degree in Literature and Creative Writing, wrote about defending the second amendment due to its ability to defend other rights. Ireland helped support his case with a Harvard Law School graduate and NRA president in 2007, Sandra Froman. Ireland’s stance is illustrated well with this statement: “In contrast to the amendment’s importance – or perhaps because of it – higher courts have generally avoided all but the most narrow issues involving guns. It’s a classic example of what Froman called ‘the doctrine of constitutional avoidance’” (Ireland, 2007). What Ireland is saying here, along with Froman, is that this issue is rather easy to just keep out of our higher courts due to picking and choosing what cases these courts want to take. When divisive cases come in where the judges will cause major uproar with the country, they want to put those cases aside and deal with the smaller and more specific cases that don’t affect the country on a mass scale. That’s where this “doctrine of constitutional avoidance happens,” and it applies to other issues as well as this one. However, cases that were huge and had national uproar, such as Roe v. Wade or Obergefell v. Hodges, didn’t have this doctrine affect them as much as this issue. This is just another roadblock set by the opposition to stop positive change that could compromise for both sides (Press, 2018).

However, in an NPR article, in late February 2019 the house passes bills to make background checks more extensive and having a complete background check before purchasing a gun. Brakkton Booker, and NPR reporter talked about what this act specifically was: “The vote on the first bill, dubbed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, passed largely along party lines 240 to 190 with Democrats who control the House cheering as they carried the legislation across the finish line.” This is a step in the right direction, but will it have affect? Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, issued a statement talking about how these bills were too far, and how they make normal citizens into fugitives. Then it comes to question how they can monitor every single gun transaction that happens in the US. Cox said the following: “Criminals, on the other hand, will continue to get their firearms the way they always have – through the black market, theft, and straw purchases. Forcing more government paperwork and additional fees on good people trying to exercise a constitutional right will do nothing to make Americans safer.” This is the core of the issue of gun control. Trying to ban the guns capable of mass shootings like the one in Parkland and Port Arthur in Australia, but the bottom line is summed up in this quote by Cox. Criminals and people with the drive to kill don’t care about the law, and will do anything in their power to get the guns they need to conduct their activities. This core issue causes this divide, where one side wants all guns out, and the other wants guns in the hands of every capable person they can get a gun into (Booker, 2019).

In a Washington Post article written by Arlington resident John Seymour, he talked about the gun control legislation and how these bills were shut down by the Virginia state courts. He talks about all the bills that were denied in Virginia court: “Republicans chairing powerful committees have, as in past years, defeated all of the: ‘red-flag’ bills intended to temporarily separate people from their firearms when a court finds they pose a substantial danger to themselves or others; universal background checks before all gun sales; reinstatement of Virginia one-handgun-a-month law; prohibitions for people subject to protective orders form the possessing firearms; banning assault-type rifles; imposing home security requirements to prevent children from accessing firearms, among many others.” This is just the few Seymour touched upon. Seymour isn’t happy about the fact that none of these have made it even through committee, which is far from any sort of compromise that not only he strives for, but the Dems strive for as well. However, Seymour touched on a possible solution that could’ve worked, had it proposed an affect worthy of not being repealed in 2010 dealing with a one-gun-per-month limit (Seymour, 2019).

In a Daily Press article written by Ashley Kelly and Kimball Payne, the article talks about legislation that has been changed dealing with gun control. As stated in Seymours perspective, the one handgun a month legislation was repealed in February 2010. Payne and Kelly write, “The law, passed in 1993 under Gov. Doug Wilder, has long been upheld as the state’s signature gun-control restriction.” This one piece of legislation is all that would pass in the state of Virginia, whereas other gun-control legislation would struggle to leave committee. Kelly and Payne are more of an echo of Seymour, reinstating how we need to be more willing to compromise about gun-control legislation, but not infringe upon the 2nd amendment (Kelly & Payne, 2010).

Gun-control legislation is something that is hard to push through legislation due to the fact that most forms of gun-control legislation tend to infringe on the 2nd amendment. That concept is where Fromans term “doctrine of constitutional avoidance” comes into play. Because these bills are so divisive and have a possibility of infringing on the 2nd amendment, no judge wants the credit for voting in that legislation. The major concern all of these sources is having gun-control legislation that doesn’t infringe the 2nd amendment. If that concern is dealt with, a compromise is much easier to attain.

References

Conclusion

Here in the US, guns can pose a threat to the population if not managed correctly. However, guns are a fundamental building block to our nation and any ban on guns specifically is an infringement of the 2nd amendment of the US constitution. Any kind of weapon ban is an infringement of our 2nd amendment right to bear arms not only for self defense, but to also prevent government tyranny when the time arises.

When talking about the Froman’s term “the doctrine of constitutional avoidance”, there’s a reason this happens. The instant thought is that they don’t want to be the judge to put any ban on any weapon, knowing that a majority of the nation most likely owns a weapon they’d have to turn in. However, I believe that these judges who turn down the gun-control legislation know that it’s unconstitutional, and that’s why it would never get passed by them, nor any judge above them. That’s what I think is the underlying reason why these judges don’t pass those bills (Ireland, 2007).

Then we move on to Cox’s statement, where he said, “criminals, on the other hand, will continue to get their firearms the way they always have – through the black market, theft, and straw purchases. Forcing more government paperwork and additional fees on good people trying to exercise a constitutional right will do nothing to make Americans safer.” This is where most bipartisan bills get tripped up. Even if we make our background checks more extensive like we did in late February 2019, there is no way to prevent people who are willing to break the law from obtaining what they want. We could ban guns in our country, but then we would disarm many Americans who can defend themselves from the already armed criminals who still have their weapons (Booker, 2019).

There is an example of gun bans that worked for quite some time. Australia had a mass shooting in 1996 at Port Arthur. This was a tragedy that shook the nation, making gun-control the first issue they dealt with. They banned any gun except guns used for animal control on farms and and hunting. This lasted over 20 years, along with suicide by gun rates dropping significantly, along with gun injury rates dropping as well. This was the proof many were looking for in the fight for more gun control (Wahlquist, 2016).

However, this was then changed when a mass shooting took place in New Zealand, which adopted Australia’s gun laws. So, when they tried to do the same thing, the people of New Zealand didn’t participate in turning in their weapons due to the fact that in time, people will eventually have to deal with another mass shooting. So why would they turn in their only means of protecting themselves from an armed shooter? They won’t, because they want to have a chance to defend themselves.

So, when any piece of gun-control legislation comes in, it has a high chance of dying in committee due to the fact that no one wants to mess with a fundamental right that established this country. Whether it’s Fromans “doctrine of constitutional avoidance,” or the possibility that the judges have the predisposition that these bills are unconstitutional, gun-control is something that is hard to pass due to the fact that a good majority of them are unconstitutional.

My stance on this issue hasn’t changed from the beginning of my research. Rather than banning firearms, we need to find ways to put firearms into the hands of capable people to defend ourselves in any place, including public schools.

References

Wahlquist, C. (2016, March 14). It took one massacre: How Australia embraced gun control after Port Arthur. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/15/it-took-one-massacre-how-australia-made-gun-control-happen-after-port-arthur (Wahlquist, 2016.)

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CC BY-SA 4.0 Banning Firearms Isn’t The Answer by Stone is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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