Time to amend the second amendment

Brooklyn Dippo | Staff Writer

Being a product of the South, I was raised around a pro-gun culture. I was conditioned to associate the right to bear arms with freedom and to fear any control over that right like tyranny. That said, I never shot anything more aggressive than an airsoft gun, and my family has only a few firearms, which I’ve only seen once or twice outside of their cases. I have never been exposed to any gun violence.

Yet now, as I write the summer news recap for the paper, I have to report on three mass shootings and a fourth shooting on live television that was inspired by the former. Since you’ve been gone, Toreros, it still isn’t safe to go to a movie theater.

So where do I stand on gun control issues now? Something has to change.

I am currently spending the semester in Australia, a country that responded to its largest mass shooting, the Port Arthur Massacre, by enacting strict gun control laws. Many weapons were banned, a mandatory government gun buyback was imposed, and there hasn’t been a shooting of its kind in 19 years. On top of that, homicide and suicide rates fell, along with the overall crime rate.

Gun activists love to argue that criminals would still find a way to get guns even if possession were illegal, and, frankly, they are right. However, guns would cost more money, be more difficult to find, and searching for one would send red flags to authorities.

It is disturbing that a psychopath, a vengeful outcast, or a disgruntled employee can walk into Walmart and buy a gun and ammunition for a “low price guarantee” so long as they pass a background check. Or, if they do have a record to hide, they can still legally purchase weapons through a loophole in many states that allows private sellers to sell guns without conducting background checks.

It is going to take a national change. Gun control is a national threat and, therefore, a national issue. States need to reach unanimity in deciding how to fix this problem. As long as one state is loose with the laws, nobody is safe from gun violence. As the issue is debated, there are more incidents of innocent lives taken. I certainly would like to see more urgency to stop this nonsense.

At the same time, I should make it clear that I’m not encouraging stripping everyone of every type of gun. I am not trying to ruin the hunting and sports industry tied to guns, though I do believe it needs more regulation and limitations. I just want guns kept out of the wrong hands. Personally, I don’t think that certain guns should be available for private ownership.

So Americans should have the right to bear arms, but at what expense? Do our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness still exist in a country where parents have to worry about sending their children to school? Where churches have to hire security to protect themselves from becoming slaughterhouses? Are we really free in these circumstances?

According to the Gun Violence Archive, so far in 2015, there have been over 35,000 gun incidents in America, nearly 9,000 of which have ended in deaths. These incidents have resulted in the deaths and injuries of 507 children under the age of 12 and 1,802 teens between ages 12 and 17. And, of all gun incidents, fewer than 3 percent were in self-defense. That leaves rates of accidental shootings 155 percent higher than defensive shootings.

Based on these statistics, guns are not protecting us anymore. They are killing us. At what point does the government intervene and say it is not fair for its citizens to be vulnerable to the whims of bad individuals?

I support the right to bear arms only in the case that it does not threaten anyone else’s right to life. Maybe we wouldn’t need guns for protection if there weren’t guns pointed at us in the first place. Maybe there wouldn’t be issues of police brutality if those whose job it is to serve and protect did not have to work with fear that ordinary citizens could have a hidden weapon. Maybe gun control would save lives: suicides prevented, murderers stopped, and accidents avoided.

Each time I came back to this piece, there are more gun incidents to reflect on. There are headlines every day, but no changes being made. I think it is time Americans consider challenging the Constitution and testing its worth as a living document, starting with a change to the second amendment.

one nation under guns