Why Condolences are Enough: The Case for Guns

Samuel Ganten, Business Editor

“If you want total security, go to prison. There you’re fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking is… freedom.” Though President Dwight D. Eisenhower uttered this memorable quote only 60 years ago, the meaning has been lost in the tumult of the modern era.

After the Las Vegas shooting and the Texas shooring, some Democrats have called for increased gun control involving suppressor and assault weapon bans. This is simply part of the cyclical discussion appearing after every mass shooting. But there are significant legal, practical, and moral reasons why the right to bear arms should not be infringed upon.

Many anti-firearm activists say that the 2nd amendment is merely granting “a well-regulated militia” and that this need is fulfilled by the army and the police. The most frequently ignored part of the amendment, however, is the part that says “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The cases District of Columbia et al. v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. City of Chicago(2010) have set the precedent that firearm ownership for individuals is upheld by the constitution, definitively expressing that individual firearm ownership is protected.

Notice how the amendment does not say “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed except for whatever gun I don’t like.” The founders understood that as a safeguard from tyranny, the laws they set forth were meant to be ironclad and obeyed.

In order to regulate guns to the degree that certain advocates would like, a constitutional amendment would need to be passed. Of course, if the majority is in favor of a new amendment, then their wishes must be respected. But I disagree with the reasoning in favor of gun control.

According to Insight Crime, a site that analyzes crime, over 700,000 firearms enter into the US every year. Even if we could stop the domestic manufacturing of these firearms, Americans would still manage to get firearms from illegal arms imports. There is a sad irony that those who are opposed to American citizens dying from firearms also oppose stricter border controls with our southern neighbor.

In societies that have curtailed gun ownership such as Belgium and France, there still are mass shootings that kill dozens. The November 2015 Paris terror attacks killed 123, not including the attackers. In 2017, an Istanbul nightclub shooting killed 37 people. Somehow, terrorists were able to move guns into these countries despite the fact that it was illegal to do so.

One might point to the fact that many mass shootings in the United States are committed by citizens, and this is true. But in the case of the Las Vegas shooting, legal guns were modified illegally, revealing that laws themselves do not stop criminals from doing bad things.

If we look towards the Texas shooter, he passed federal background checks and was cleared to buy a gun specifically because the Air Force failed to report his domestic violence conviction. Already, deranged individuals are barred from buying weapons in the status quo, yet the government failed to properly respond to this issue. To me, it seems folly to see that the government was unable to prevent this tragedy and then say that the government should attempt to regulate more aspects of people’s lives.

Even if we were able to control the flow of weapons across the border and properly manage background checks, Americans can still make their own firearms. An article from the science publication Wired reveals that it is possible for one to manufacture untraceable weapons, defeating the purpose of background checks and other gun control measures. If people want to possess firearms, they can.

Amazingly, the Department of Justice found that gun violence deaths have decreased 39% over the course of 18 years, from 18,253 during 1993, to 11,101 in 2011. According to CNS, over the same period gun ownership increased from 0.9 guns per person to 1.45. That means that contrary to popular belief, more guns have actually resulted in less gun death.

Another key argument among anti-gun activists is that even if terrorism and crime continue, fewer people will die with gun control. However, there is absolutely no way to prove this. Bear in mind that a truck-driving jihadist in Nice killed more people than the lunatic in Las Vegas. After guns are banned, then perhaps trucks and box cutters will be next.

It is impossible to ban or restrict firearms effectively. But even if border crossings could be tightened, if background checks could be successfully implemented, if homemade weapon kits could be banned, and other action could be taken, they shouldn’t.

What I fear most is what the curtailing of the 2nd amendment will do to the American soul. Our country was forged from the might of revolutionaries, who dared to stand up to oppression with guns in hand. John Brown was one such revolutionary who dared to free slaves using firearms that he owned. In the world that my opponents would propose, Brown would be harassed for owning a “semi-automatic” flintlock rifle.

There are millions of Americans who own firearms who have never gone on a shooting rampage. But by restricting the rights of those who seek to own guns, you turn them into criminals and deprive them of their liberty. For all the talk on the left about Trump being a fascist, the same side is comfortable with the government being the only side that has guns.

When our state has been responsible for two unjust wars in Iraq and Syria, the Fugitive Slave Act, the internment of Japanese during World War II and the extermination of Native Americans, I find it hard to place my faith in it. Not too long ago, they chose to violate the rights of those who were unarmed.

The ideal government is one where the government fears its own people rather than the other way around. Key to such a power dynamic is the 2nd amendment, giving citizens the right to overthrow their government if they aren’t satisfied with its social contract.

I urge Campolindo students to resist a government that has frequently violated the rights of unarmed people. The right to bear arms is an inseparable part of this democracy.