President Barack Obama’s plan takes a step forward in limiting the access of deadly weapons to dangerous citizens.
The main points of President Barack Obama’s plan mandate universal background checks for gun purchases, a limit on ammunition magazine capacity to a maximum of 10 rounds each and a reinstatement of the national ban on assault weapons. In addition, he has also issued four executive orders to strengthen the information available about people with mental health problems in the background check system.
Obama’s plan has picked up major criticism and controversy. Part of the issue surrounds the re-introduction of the controversial 1994 assault weapons ban, which restricted 18 specific firearms and regulated features such as pistol grips, folding stocks and high-capacity magazines and lasted until 2004.
Opponents of the ban point to its lack of success in mitigating violent crimes by assault weapons. Yet the stats might have been skewed by the fact that gun manufacturers found ways around the ban by making cosmetic changes to their products, thereby producing legal guns that had only slight modifications to the outlawed models. Recognizing the source of this past failure, Obama will seek to eliminate such loopholes for manufacturers.
Meanwhile, those who argue that restricting the right of law-abiding Americans to wield firearms will infringe their ability to defend themselves against criminals don’t realize that the major shootings in the U.S. that recently took place — in Tucson, Ariz., a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. and a community college in Houston, to name a few — were caused by ordinary Americans with unstable minds and lawful access to firearms.
It’s our duty to prevent, if possible, even one more of these people from acquiring a dangerous weapon. Obama’s new plan is one way that we can prevent more of the same disasters from occurring.
And for Americans who still believe that increasing gun restrictions would do nothing more than restrict our freedoms, it’s time to recognize that regulation is how we historically have dealt with major abuses of freedom. Some gun enthusiasts point out that we don’t simply take cars away because of accidents caused by driving drunk or texting. But we did make reasonable regulations on driving to restrict and punish such behavior so that people will be less likely to hurt others while exercising their freedom to drive. We didn’t take cars away, but we did modify what was allowed — Obama’s idea for gun control is of the same nature.
The Second Amendment is an important constitutional right but also one that needs to be regulated, as we’ve made advancements in firearms that the framers of the Constitution could never have imagined. The amendment’s original intent, after all, was to give Americans the right to maintain a militia to fight back against governmental tyranny.
The saying “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” might be prevalent in our society, but if we can keep some of the modified, deadlier guns out of certain dangerous peoples’ hands, isn’t that the best place to start? Many guns are designed to be killing machines, and we’ve seen far too often that this power comes with a responsibility and power that many Americans can’t handle. How many innocent people will have to give up their lives before we agree to give up part of our freedom to prevent recurring attacks?
In the end, if people are the ones killing people, then it’s logical for us to closely examine — and regulate — the means by which they can do so.
Catherine Brackett is a sophomore majoring in political science.
Gun control severely limits the powers of the American people and takes away our ability to defend ourselves.
There’s a pattern: the most destructive pieces of legislation in U.S. history have been passed soon after a major tragedy, enabled and accelerated by the nation’s disgusted unease at such terrible acts.
Two months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, legislation was enacted which authorized the internment of Japanese-Americans. Following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2011, President George W. Bush signed the PATRIOT Act into law, leading to an unprecedented violation of civil liberties. Now, a little over a month after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the American people have a decision to make: Are we willing to hand over more of our freedoms to the government for an act which promises to do little to stem gun violence?
President Barack Obama recently announced his new gun control plan, and though it does make some positive points regarding mental health — an issue that hasn’t been given due attention as of late — and criminal background checks, it also includes and emphasizes actions that would directly infringe upon the Second Amendment. Maybe most crucially, it would reinstate the ban on “assault weapons” put into law under the Clinton administration — a ban that was ineffective in reducing gun violence and basically only affected cosmetic modifications and accessories placed on standard consumer firearms.
Aside from that measure’s ineffectiveness in curbing gun-related deaths, the plan would drastically reduce the ability of American citizens to legally defend their homes and families while simultaneously creating a demand for an assault weapons black market overnight — a demand that will likely be filled. Considering how easily the cartels import drugs into the U.S., it’s not a stretch to believe they would have any trouble adding modified weapons to their sales mix. Additionally, given the fact that 79 percent of firearms used in gun-related crimes were obtained illegally, the plan creates a serious power gap between citizens and criminals, one in which the firepower of violent criminals and drug cartels vastly exceeds that of law-abiding citizens wishing to defend their property.
Perhaps more important of an issue, and one that proponents of the plan are quick to dismiss, are the implications and legality of the act with regard to the Second Amendment. The ability and responsibility of the citizens to physically defend their rights and property is no less relevant now as is their right to free speech, as both were fundamental in founding values of this nation.
Additionally, proponents of Obama’s plan argue that the Second Amendment is contingent upon service in a militia, and therefore does not protect individual gun ownership. The language and intent of the amendment were indeed left open to interpretation until a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court in 2008, which determined that the amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm, regardless of service in a militia. The implications of this, as well as a later 2010 decision, in the context of the amendment mean that neither federal nor state governments can infringe on the right of a citizen to possess a firearm. As such, there is little doubt that the president’s plan, should it pass, will draw attention from the Supreme Court.
Besides the legal implications of the plan, the principles of the Founding Fathers would be violated by the proposal. Proponents of gun control might dismiss their principles as irrelevant and outdated, but true wisdom is timeless. Appropriately, Ben Franklin wrote that “those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Thus, this generation is faced with a dilemma, one that might define them: trust the wisdom of the founding fathers, or the government they warned us about?
Michael Windes is a sophomore majoring in business administration.