Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Events in AZ bring about gun control debate

In the wake of the tragedy that occurred in Arizona this past week, the debate on gun control is starting to gain traction in the mainstream media. Specifically, many are questioning whether renewing the assault weapons ban that expired during the Bush administration's time in office could have helped prevent some what happened this past weekend.

The ban likely wouldn't have stopped the tragedy itself. Jared Loughner was clearly a troubled individual, determined to get his point across through whatever means he could -- including through the use of violence.

But the weapons Loughner utilized to carry out his act of madness were on the list of weapons (and accessories) that were previously banned before 2004. Loughner used a Glock 19 with a high-capacity magazine count (he was able to shoot off more than 30 bullets before needing to reload).

Before the assault weapons ban expired, the legal magazine count was limited to 10, and the gun that Loughner used in his rampage wasn't even legal at all.

Gun advocates will make a compelling argument that, with or without the expired gun ban and the limits on magazine counts, Loughner (or anyone else with his troubled mentality) could have done harm regardless, through the use of some other weapon. No one should necessarily "blame" guns for the events that transpired this past weekend or in any other incident. A gun is an inanimate object; it is the person holding it that is ultimately responsible for how it's used.

On the other side of the coin, however, is the idea that certain weapons don't belong in the hands of the people. To the extreme end of things, for example, we wouldn't allow a citizen to own any nuclear arsenal based on what's written in the Second Amendment. So taken to a lesser extreme -- but still an issue of great concern -- why should we allow citizens to own assault weapons, capable of creating incredible harm to a large number of people?

Let's make this clear: I'm a proponent of the Second Amendment. I believe firmly that a person does indeed have a right to protect themselves, their family, and their livelihood, whenever any of those are threatened by outside forces. I even agree, to some extent, in the Tea Party-endorsed idea that the people have a right to overthrow their government in certain circumstances (though I do disagree with that movement's belief that we're anywhere near that point right now).

However, restrictions on weaponry aren't a violation of Second Amendment rights -- the words "well-regulated" are within the wording of the amendment itself, suggesting that our founders even agreed with restrictions to some extent. Furthermore, the weaponry owned during that time period was nowhere near as sophisticated as it is now. Protecting everyone's right to own a musket that could barely hit a target ten yards away is hardly similar to gun advocates' insistence that everyone ought to be able to purchase an assault weapon capable of doing harm to a significant number of people in a short amount of time.

Everyone has a right to protect themselves and the people whom they love. A person who owns a gun understands the risks associated with having one, and is responsible for its use. If they use it in a proper way, they shouldn't have their rights revoked in any way. However, certain weapons ought not be distributed at all, and are an unnecessary amount of force that, if placed in the wrong hands, could create a situation like what we saw in Arizona.

The motivations of a crazed gunman don't warrant the complete revocation of the Second Amendment...but they do give us plenty of reasons to consider more restrictions over weapons that could potentially cause a tremendous amount of harm.

No comments:

Post a Comment