The recent school shooting in Parkland FL. that led to 17 people being brutally murdered at school has led to yet another america-splitting gun debate. “Guns can be a fantastic hobby.” This line paints a crystal clear picture of why both sides of the argument will never see eye to eye on this issue. Those who defend their second amendment rights are doing so to defend their right to protect oneself against others, and to rise up in case of a tyrannical government; the other sees it as something to be replaced by a leisurely afternoon of golf.
Recall: The founding fathers specifically put the second amendment into the the Bill of Rights, having just fought the tyranny of the crown so that in the event of the government trampling on individual rights, the people can rise up.
The Declaration of Independence, the most notorious break-up letter of humankind, outlines why we, the dumper, were not happy in our unhealthy relationship with the British. We decided that we have inalienable rights given to us as americans, the right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness (rights never before granted by a government, revolutionizing the idea of freedom) and prescribed that in the event of governments interfering with these rights, it is the duty of the people to abolish the government and start anew. This is one of the fundamental ideas underlying our country, and it is what gun control advocates seem to miss debate after debate.
Once the war was won and our liberties were secured, States were extremely hesitant in handing over their newly won rights to even their own country. Many states absolutely despised the idea of a federal government because of a lesson they refused to forget, best put by historian Lord Acton, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” thus power must be dispersed among individuals. The states knew this from experience, they lived in the world it created, and they had decided individual liberty was worth fighting for and protecting at all costs. The only way to get the states to ratify the constitution, to consolidate power, to risk the tyranny of an overgrown government was a federally provided Bill of Rights. Each state at this time already had their own bill of rights, but it was important that any federal government would also recognize these rights so that it would not overstep its boundaries and infringe on a state’s rights and by proxy the rights of the people. This Bill of Rights was crucial in the ratification of the constitution and gave us our currently hotly debated right, the right to bear arms.
Amendment 2: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” At the time of ratification, the militia was all able bodied men. It was store owners, teachers, bankers, farmers, anyone with working limbs and the ability to aim. Which is why now, as decided in D.C. v. Heller, the amendment is interpreted as the american people have the right to bear arms. In addition to this evidence, there were the bills of rights from other states. For example, in Pennsylvania’s bill of rights the 13th amendment states “That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state; and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; And that the military should be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.” The right for people to defend themselves is clearly outlined. The idea that the supreme court came to its decision by bending to the will of the NRA is ludicrous.
To compare America's gun laws to Australia's gun laws has its own flaws. From a historical standpoint the gun culture of the two nations is fundamentally different. Australia did not fight a war to gain independence from Britain, does not have freedom of speech (a right that, if infringed upon, many americans would gladly take up arms to protect), and does not have any right that states that they have the right to bear arms, in fact they do not even have a bill of rights or any similar document. The governmental implications of the federal government overstepping its boundaries and infringing on the sovereignty of the states and rights of the people is not the same for the two countries. Written into this country’s very core is the responsibility of the people to hold their government in check, and the fact that the United States today has 300 million guns in the possession of citizens alone acts as a deterrent for governments getting too big-brother-knows-best with its citizens.
A closer look at the gun ban in Australia does not paint the most no-guns-no-violence picture either. The gun ban of 1996 in Australia has come under considerable debate when examining if the gun ban was the cause of decreased homicide rates, as homicide rates were already on the decline. According to Crime Research Prevention Center president John Lott, “Prior to 1996, there was already a clear downward in firearm homicides, and this pattern continued after the buyback. It is hence difficult to link the decline to the buyback.” Another paper by the University of Melbourne found, when analyzing the effects of the buyback, that “there is little evidence to suggest that it had any significant effects on firearm homicides and suicides”. What’s more is that many forms of crime actually increased after the buy back. According to Australian Bureau of Statistics, recorded sexual assault increased by 18% from 1993-2000, the rate of robbery victimisation has increased by 68% in the same period, and the number of assault victims increased by 39% from 1995-2000. Turns out that criminals don’t decrease criminal behavior as law abiding citizens decrease defense.
America is not the only country to suffer from mass shootings nor is it at the top. The Crime Research Prevention Center puts the U.S. at 11th place when comparing other nations annual death rate for public mass shootings, with Norway coming in first, Serbia in second, and France in third.
The idea that gun violence is somehow now on the rise is also untrue. According to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 1993 there were seven gun related homicides per 100,000, and in 2013 that number was cut in half to 3.5 per 100,000.
What is increasingly frustrating is the idea that if we just get rid of all guns, then there will be no more violent crime. How many rapes are committed with the victim at gunpoint? 6 percent. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, only 11% of all rapes involve a weapon and of those 6% involve guns, 4% use knives, and 1% for other. This means that 89% of rapes are committed with no weapon. As a five foot 3 woman, I would feel much safer walking around at night, knowing that I have the ability to protect myself from becoming a statistic.
Humans, with great capacity for evil, will find a way to carry out that evil by whatever means necessary if they choose to do so, guns or no guns. According to NBC San Diego, on May 5, 2016 a 15 year old student planted a homemade bomb in the school but was thwarted by a staff member who threw it into a bush before it could detonate. The bomb was made with bathroom products. Shall we ban bleach? BBC News reports on a devastating mass stabbing attack at Kunming station in China, during March of 2014 where men stabbed and killed 31 people and wounded 141. This is not foreign to U.S. schools. According to the Los Angeles Times, April of 2014 in Murrysville Pennsylvania, a 16-year old high school student stabbed 22 people before a group of boys, a security guard and the vice principal were able to tackle and stop him. To think that banning guns is somehow going to make us more safe and to think that taking away the right to defense is an act of paternal care towards the american people is absolutely untrue and is ultimately going to do more harm than good by making it more difficult for good people to defend themselves and their family. Do not confiscate the rights of the majority due to the horrible acts of a few.
Jodi Lieberman, student