Some may say now is not the time to talk about gun control. 2 weeks after the deadliest mass shooting in American history, leaving 58 people dead and injuring close to 600 at a concert in Las Vegas, now more than ever, it is time to talk about gun control.
Since the genesis of our nation, the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, has been one of the most beloved and now controversial rights Americans possess. Back in 1791, when the Second Amendment was ratified into the constitution, its purpose was much different than modern gun-toting citizens know or realize. The intent of its founders was to ensure local and state militias could assemble to protect themselves from a tyrannical government, an issue colonists had under English rule and wanted to prevent in their new country. Some even argue the Second Amendment was enacted to allow plantation owners the ability to threaten their slaves, a much darker narrative which definitely has no application to today’s society. However, in modern times, this amendment’s underlying theme has been completely misconstrued to mean that anyone should be allowed to have as many guns as they like, at any grade, even close to military grade. Such a misinterpretation of historical events and motives led to a ridiculous and even obsessive mindset about guns that the framers of the right to bear arms never intended. As a result, guns have become weapons of mass destruction, enabling the ends of innocent lives instead of improving them like the framers of the Second Amendment intended. “Mass shooting” has become commonplace in the modern vernacular and a country callous to the suffering of its people has turned a blind eye to gun violence, preserving its ability to own guns. To avoid or even make just a little less frequent the horrific mass shootings Americans have witnessed in the past decade, changes must be made in national legislation both to limit the power of guns and accessories available as well as improve security checks for people who want to buy a gun.
One major factor that has led to the absurd gun culture of today in many parts of the country is the National Rifle Association, or NRA. The NRA, founded in 1871, is an association dedicated to protecting the gun rights of Americans, which they have more than accomplished to a dangerous degree. Starting in 1975, however, the NRA has lobbied in Congress to pass legislation which blows the Second Amendment out of proportion. They have pushed for the legalization of more and more dangerous weapons and accessories for weapons beyond the scope of what any American would need to defend him or herself from an intruder or “form a militia”, an ancient idea without necessity in the 21st century. Because of this, high-powered rifles, semi-automatic weapons, and overpowered accessories, such as large magazines or silencers, have become legal and surprisingly available to the general public. In the Las Vegas shootings, an attachment called a “bump stock”, an accessory which uses the momentum of the gun to reload semi-automatic weapons more quickly as if they were automatic, allowed the shooter, perched in a hotel window, to fire rounds more quickly. Had his bullets been more delayed, who knows how many more people could have ran to safety before being senselessly murdered. Similar laws, or lack thereof, let the shooter in Sandy Hook kill a greater number of elementary school kids. To counteract the decades of pro-gun lobbying by the NRA, everyone who believes in a more extensive gun control regulation system, from liberal congressmen and women to the everyday American, must unite and further their message. No longer can we let gun supporters have an unchallenged voice in government. While many former and active politicians have done just this, protecting the lives of innocent Americans, more must be done to further this cause, as proven by the almost periodic mass shootings taking place in America. To decrease the destruction of gun violence in America, there must be more regulation on power and lethality of weapons available.
Another issue with gun rights in modern times is how easily high-powered weapons can be acquired. ID and background checks are minimal when it comes to buying a gun and owners are allowed to build up huge collections of guns which exceed the amount they would ever have to use in everyday life. A common point made by gun control activists is that it is easier to buy a gun than buy cough syrup, a true and shocking testament to the unbelievably loose nature of the gun industry. As a result of these lax background checks, people with mental health issues or histories of violence in the past are just as able to access weapons as all other Americans. The NRA and other Second Amendment supporters have long argued that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. This furthers the point that ID checks are necessary to make sure people with malintent are unable to get their hands on lethal weapons. Time and time again, people in poor mental states or with histories of violence gain access to near military-grade weaponry, allowing them to take the life or lives of whomever they choose at the pull of a trigger. If conservative gun owners want to preserve their rights to their guns, they should be more willing to compromise when it comes to background checks when purchasing guns; more regulation here could mean less restriction in weapon power, a topic I’ve previously explained and something gun lovers would hate to sacrifice. To minimize the consequences of gun ownership in America, more must be done to regulate ID and background checks during gun purchases.
While those on the other side of my argument claim the Second Amendment is a right of American citizens and is untouchable by the law, they are wrong. The right to bear arms is, simply, an amendment, meaning that the Constitution of our country had to be changed for this right to become a reality. Just as it was added, the Second Amendment can be modified and, although unrealistic, repealed completely. This seemingly impossible happening has already occured in American history, when Prohibition was passed into law and then repealed via the 18th and 21st amendments. Additionally and more practically, laws and regulations passed by Congress, many of which already exist, can and already have palliated the state of gun control. Why anyone, having lived through the amount of tragic shootings America has endured, would not immediately jump to restrict guns more heavily is unbelievable to me. It is inexplicably selfish for gun enthusiasts to trade the lives of innocent Americans, an amount which only keeps getting bigger, for cool guns.
In short, gun control is something that needs both to be talked about in every household and immediately reformed at a national level; leaving gun regulation to the states will result in a better system in some states, but the same if not worse systems in others. A lack of restrictions on overpowered weapons and attachments as well as incomprehensive background checks are two areas of many we need to focus on if we are ever to have a Second Amendment that works for everyone. Unless the people of America are willing to compromise on some of their gun rights for a modern world, victims like those in Las Vegas, Sandy Hook, Orlando, and so many more instances yet to come will continually have to pay with their lives. The 18th century words of the framers of the constitution must not be taken literally, but in a 21st century interpretation that meets modern criteria and values American lives over the selfish desires of gun owners.