Press Perspective: Gun control

Tatum Lindquist, Editor in Chief

Gunfire echoes and screams erupt as the crowd ducks, scrambling for cover. On October 1 at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old male, open fired on the concert’s crowd, killing at least 59 attendees and injuring hundreds more. Not to mention, just recently on November 5, at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, 26-year-old Devin Kelley killed 26 and injured 20 others as a result of disputes with his family. With our nation’s rise in shootings, in comes as no surprise that the Unite States possesses a firearm homicide rate that’s 25 times higher than any other developed country. In response, the politically polarizing debate over the Second Amendment—the right to bear arms—has grown more intense and complicated than ever.

The Origins

The current debate around gun control centers around the question: “Should individual American citizens possess the right to own firearms?” But back in 1791, such a question wasn’t even being asked. Our nation’s founders believed that governments use their militaries as a tool for oppression, and hence, James Madison drafted the Second Amendment in the U.S. Constitution in order to protect the general welfare of the American public. The debate around the Second Amendment really only sparked a few decades ago with the technological advancements of firearms.

A Modern Age

Due to leaps in gun technology, many wonder if the Second Amendment should even apply to today. The muskets and long rifles of 1791 cannot even begin to compare to today’s collection of pistols, rifles, semiautomatic assault weapons, and more. The advancements in accuracy, safety, and range of firearms has skyrocketed since the late eighteenth century. When used by a skillful shooter, a typical Revolutionary-era musket held one round, fired three rounds per minute, and accurately aimed within only 50 meters. In contrast, a typical R-15 (the modern weapon of choice by mass shooters) holds 30 rounds, fired 45 rounds per minute, and accurately aims within 550 meters. Furthermore, any shooter can swap out magazines within a matter of seconds, a huge renovation to the minutes it took for a typical Revolutionary to reload a musket.

Many have used such comparisons as a reason to repeal the Second Amendment, and if not repeal, then make it harder to obtain modern guns in the first place. On the other hand, some people declare that it is their right to protect their families against threats with their own semiautomatic weapons. But protection is only one of many reasons that Americans wish to carry firearms.

The reasons for U.S. citizens to own guns are varied and often not with malicious intent. Some hunt or shoot at ranges for sport; some own a gun as a form of protection; others may collect guns as a hobby. The point is that the issue is not simply why Americans possess guns, but rather how they are used.
Since the first federal gun law in 1934, numerous taxes and security measures have been implemented, but regardless, firearm homicide continues to be one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. Not to mention, 62 percent of firearm deaths in the U.S. are suicides. These numbers are rising annually at an alarming rate, and shootings are becoming more prevalent in American society.

Our Position

The hundreds of shooting victims over the past year have died as casualties of war, a domestic war concerning the Second Amendment that has divided Americans and polarized political standpoints. The aggressive and unhealthy debates in our culture create the stigma that either you’re trying to deprive American citizens of their right to bear arms, or you’re allowing for the mass murder of innocent American citizens.

The Patriot Press refuses to stand simply for or against guns, but rather recognizes the complexities in gun control, coming to a general consensus against repealing the Second Amendment altogether as it would increase public desire to possess firearms in retaliation. Instead, there should be further investigation into the effectiveness of certain gun laws in order to make more informed decisions on gun control.

It should be noted that gun regulations affect law-abiding citizens, and if one possesses the malicious intent to kill, then he or she can obtain a gun, legally or not. On the other hand, security measures on the manufacture and trade of firearms are a necessity in order to ensure security for the general public.
Looking forward, gun laws should center around gun safety at home and when carrying firearms. For instance, California’s gun laws, some of the most thorough and complex in the nation, require firearms to be unloaded when carrying them in public with very few exceptions. And since California holds one of the lowest firearm homicide rates in the nation, more states should model California in their strict and elaborate gun laws.

We understand that the Second Amendment grants American citizens the right to bear arms for protection, but the general welfare of the public holds precedence. In order to maintain the security of our nation, we need to recognize the importance of gun control, which should consider not only the purchasing of firearms, but also how citizens handle firearms in public and at home. Citizens advocating for their gun rights should also advocate for gun safety because our founders built a nation for the people. To continue their legacy, we must balance the rights with the safety of U.S. citizens.