By Katharine Macomber
The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution gives the citizens the right to bear arms, stating in part, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This Amendment, along with the nine others in the Bill of Rights, was ratified and installed in our nation’s Constitution in 1791 in order to protect the people from each other, but moreover, the government.
Let us fast forward to the present day; in the past few years there have been several mass shootings involving the killing of innocent, unarmed people, the most recent being the massacre of 20 First Grade children at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT, not far from my hometown. In response to this unfathomable event, many leaders and lobbyists in Washington, including President Obama are pushing for heightened gun control laws.
So what do we do? In the wake of recent tragedies, President Obama and other lawmakers have suggested measures such as longer waiting periods, universal background checks, and limiting ammunition magazines. Seems easy enough; do everything possible to keep guns out of the hands of people who will use them improperly. But what many people will not address is the glaring need to change how we handle the mentally ill. In the cases of the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting, and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, both shooters suffered from some sort of psychological problems. And in the case of Adam Lanza, the guns were not registered to him, but rather, to his mother. Lanza grew up with four AK-47s instead of Legos. The problem is, many of the mentally ill and those with criminal intent may have access to illegal weapons or can steal from legal gun owners. But then again, what can you do about crazy people to some extent, we all know Mendel Doug has been menacing Villanova’s campus for years and no one does anything about him (read this Mendel Gas Leak article and note how there is no mention of Mendel Doug…IT’S A COVER UP).
But what do “sane people” have to say on the issue? The National Rifle Association (NRA), along with many conservative supporters, is under fire for maintaining its stance on resisting gun control laws including longer waiting periods, universal background checks and the imposition of larger fees. But what critics usually omit is that the NRA champions gun safety and training programs, and the proliferated access to information about safely hunting game and self-defense. You know, so you can learn to use an assault rifle to shoot a duck. Essentially, the NRA’s stance and continued promotion of safe and correct ways to handle a firearm in conjunction with our Second Amendment right is a detriment and is completely insensitive to the recent shootings.
But maybe it isn’t. What if the NRA, although perhaps coming across as stubborn and insensitive in the context of the aftermath of a particularly devastating and horrific event, is justly not allowing emotions to interfere with thought processes that will produce decisions which will affect our rights for years to come? What if the NRA and Republicans can see into the future where Obama and the Democrats have trampled on our rights so egregiously that although we “still have the Second Amendment,” it is impossible for anyone to realistically bear arms? And what if, the only people that could continue to bear arms were police and other government officials? OH NO, THEY WILL TAKE OUR GUNS AWAY!!! Maybe that’s just “Conspiracy Keanu” speaking… But there certainly are implications and arguments against tightened gun laws.
In all seriousness, we cannot go on living in a nation where small children and other innocent people can be murdered in cold blood with no action taken to prevent it from happening again. We need to make changes—big changes—but they cannot be at the expense of our Second Amendment right. The way we handle our mentally ill and our criminals needs to be at the forefront of the ongoing debates. Although it is difficult to swallow, we cannot allow the actions of a few mentally ill to send our gun policies down a slippery slope. This slippery slope has an end; where the Constitution lay broken and tattered there with scuffmarks, stab wounds, cigarette burns, and what have you (much like this picture of Rocky after a big fight).
Listen closely to what your elected officials have to say and always take a step back and ask yourself, “What exactly is the cost of freedom,” and, “Am I slowly becoming less free?” “Am I slowly becoming less free to die at the hands of a crazy person?” “