How would you feel if you were sitting next to someone with a gun in a restaurant? How about on a college campus? Well in Arizona, among other states, you just might have to sit next to that person. I’m hoping to go to college next fall, and the thought is a little unnerving to say the least.
Arizona, Alaska, and Vermont, among over a dozen other states, allow adults 21 and over to carry concealed weapons without a permit. Granted there are some exceptions, but usually just the minimum to avoid Armageddon. As one example, you can bring a gun into a bar as long as you do not drink… because of course people who go to bars never have any intention of drinking…
True, there are some gun restrictions in place, like no one under 18 can legally own a gun, although for most places those restrictions are minimal.
It is easier to buy a gun in America than it is to get a drivers license. In order to get a license you need to pass a written test and show competence behind the wheel of an actual car. To buy a gun, you might need to take a basic education class depending on where you live, but otherwise you just need to pass a background check, and it is really easy to bypass this class and test altogether. Just go to a gun show.
There are gun shows around the country all of the time. Many of these shows are not required to perform background checks on gun buyers because they feature private sellers, and if someone is not required to do something before a sale, why would he if it lowers his chance of making a profit? Thirty-three states do not restrict gun show sales in any way. An investigation by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York found that “19 out of 30 private sellers at various gun shows in multiple states failed an integrity test by selling a gun to someone who admitted to being unable to pass a background test.” That is at least 19 more guns in circulation than I would like.
In the US you have to pass tests for all kinds of things. If I want to start a job, I have to pass a background test that shows that I have not lied on my application or caused problems at previous jobs. If my mom wants to take out a loan, she has to pass a credit check. These are just jobs and money at stake. What about lives? What about guns? Background checks exist for a reason — to keep the public safe, and even people who support gun rights should be appalled by the results of Bloomberg’s investigation. Basically if you want to buy a gun, you can buy it, even though you are not fit to own one.
We see people who are not qualified to own guns getting them all of the time. Look at Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter; he was mentally ill and managed to get a gun. Look at Jared Loughner, the gunman who shot Congresswoman Giffords. He was also unfit to own a gun, yet he got one and look what he did with it. Then there is Columbine; the list goes on and on…
I do not believe that our founding fathers were infallible or knew everything. We can see this by their stance on slavery when America was created. They were not perfect and could not anticipate everything that would happen in the future, which is why they made the Constitution a living, changeable document. It was designed to change with the times and it has; just look at the 18th and 21st amendments (which made alcohol illegal and then made it legal again). At the time when the second amendment was written, the only guns that existed were muskets, or maybe something just a little more fancy. This amendment was written for the people of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century and like the rest of the Constitution, it was expected to change with time. None of the founders could have anticipated semiautomatic weapons that can fire 50 bullets in 10 seconds like we have today. However, although these unforeseen guns exist, the founders made it possible for us to change our laws accordingly. They were smart men and only fought as an absolute last resort; just look at the Olive Branch Petition which almost prevented the violence of the American Revolution from happening. Ergo, it would be reasonable to assume that the founding fathers did not like anything associated with violence unless it was a last resort. They protected the guns of the 1790’s because America was fighting wars and expanding; Americans needed to protect themselves when the country was still young. We are not a young country anymore. So if those guns were protected under the second amendment, what does that make our guns? – Killing machines that the founders would oppose. If we want to follow our founding fathers’ intent, then there should definitely be a limit on all firearms other than single shot rifles. (It can logically be argued that rifles are a reasonable progression from muskets whereas Uzis are not.)
Finally, buying guns creates a cycle in which more guns will be bought in the future. There are people who need semi-automatic guns in their profession such as the military or police. There are other people who honor the tradition of marksmanship and respect rifles like hunters and sportsmen. But other than these groups, people buy guns to protect themselves from other people who buy guns. They buy guns because they are scared of their neighbors who own gun, causing even more people to buy guns, and so the fear perpetuates. This is a vicious cycle that has resulted in America having 90 guns for every 100 people. Yemen is one of few countries, if not the only country that has a one to one gun ratio according to a 60 Minutes report. We can see how well that country is doing right now and it is scary and sad to think that America is not that far behind. Our Constitution from 1787 was designed for change and expected to change over time; that is how our founding fathers made it. It is time for change.
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