Citizens must defend right to bear arms
Two stories have dominated the news cycle over the last couple months: the upcoming presidential election and multiple shocking instances of gun violence.
The mass shooting in an Aurora, Colo. movie theater in July, the murder of Sikhs in a Wisconsin temple in August and the shooting at the Empire State Building a few weeks ago have rendered the fight over the Second Amendment one of the most important civil liberties struggles of our generation.
Though these recent gun-related instances of violence were nothing short of appalling, our shock ‚ÄĒ personally and nationally over what seems to be an increase in mass shootings ‚ÄĒ must not cloud our understanding of the importance that the right to bear arms holds in our free society.
Rather than restricting access to firearms for everyone, we need to remind policymakers that we will not allow the inexcusable actions of a few crazed and evil individuals to curb upstanding citizens‚Äô constitutional right to protect themselves. In fact, what these events should make clear to us is that these rights must extend outside of the home so that law-abiding citizens can protect themselves in public ‚ÄĒ should any similar events happen in the future.
The passage of the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011 (H.R. 822) in the House of Representatives last November constituted a step in the right direction. If passed in the Senate, the bill would allow non-resident citizens with valid concealed carry permits issued by their home states to carry their weapon in other states where concealed carry is legal, essentially streamlining concealed carry standards nationwide and allowing qualified citizens to defend themselves more easily.
Unfortunately, it is unlikely to pass in the Senate, especially in light of the recent tragedies.
According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, about 70 percent of all homicides throughout the United States in 2007 were committed with a firearm. Gun control advocates constantly cite disturbing statistics such as this figure, but what they fail to consider is how much lower this number could have been had more victims and bystanders had a weapon to protect themselves.
According to the FBI‚Äôs Annual Uniform Crime Report, states that widely allow concealed carry ‚ÄĒ ‚Äúright-to-carry‚ÄĚ states ‚ÄĒ have 22 percent lower total violent crime rates and 30 percent lower homicide rates than the country as a whole. Evidently, the presence of law-abiding citizens who carry firearms can serve as a significant deterrent to violent crime.
Passing laws restricting access to guns will do nothing to stop the violence perpetrated by the James Holmeses of the world. Criminals commit reprehensible, illegal acts exactly because they have no respect for the law.
Why would they have any more respect for stricter gun laws? If the prohibition of drugs has not reduced drug use and drug-related violence, what reason is there to believe that the prohibition of guns will stop criminals from getting and doing what they want?
This is not to say that anyone should be able to buy guns from their local street corner. Detailed background checks should continue to be regularly conducted upon any and every gun purchase. But there should also be a system implemented that raises red flags whenever an individual purchases large quantities of ammunition and multiple weapons. With a system such as this in place, people like James Holmes would no longer fly under the radar in mass ammunitions acquisitions.
There is no clear-cut way to predict gun violence. Violence unfortunately forms a part of human nature, and when coupled with the presence of mental infirmities, it is near impossible to pinpoint if or when a person will endanger his or her own, or other‚Äôs lives. Continuing to throw restrictive legislation at the problem, therefore, is ineffective.
The recent incidents of gun-related violence render it increasingly clear that citizens cannot rely solely on the government for protection from harm. Law enforcement officials cannot be everywhere at all times, and citizens need to have the means to defend themselves should a threat to their lives arise.
The unspeakable events of the last few months should serve as reminders of the necessity to defend, not spurn, our Second Amendment rights more than ever before.
The right to bear arms essentially equates the right to protect one‚Äôs own life, and restricting this would not bode well for Americans and their most basic civil liberties.
Sarah Cueva is a junior majoring in political science and Middle East studies. Her column ‚ÄúLeaning Toward Liberty‚ÄĚ runs Mondays.