We take cars more seriously than we do guns. The fact I can buy an assault rifle at a gun show in Texas without a background check but cannot yet import the Nissan GTR sports car — renowned for its performance and cult following — due to “safety concerns” and regulations, should indicate something is seriously wrong with the way we treat guns in this country.

Something needs to be done about firearm regulation, especially with the increase of mass shootings in the past decade. The problem is that it is a lot easier said than done, as it requires an extensive reevaluation and understanding of our country’s laws and culture.

First, many people want to get rid of the Second Amendment, but is that realistic?

People should be able to defend themselves, but “the right to bear arms” is an abstract statement — anything can theoretically be a weapon. The freedom to defend one’s self is not going anywhere. However, in terms of guns and ammunition, the Second Amendment is out of date and needs to be looked at for relevancy for this century.

The definition of “arms” is much more diverse than it was in the 18th century. A distinction needs to be made between a gun for hunting or defense and a purpose-built weapon of war. That difference probably was difficult to identify until the 1940s, but now it is a little more obvious.

The AR-15, what the National Rifle Association calls “America’s rifle,” is the gun predominantly used in mass shootings because that is what it was designed to do — by definition, it is an assault rifle. It has been used by the military in some form or another since the Vietnam War. Do civilians really need weapons designed for urban combat, capable of killing 30 people or more with one magazine? It’s a bit much.

The concept of a state militia as described by the Second Amendment, which would justify the general population having access to such military-grade weapons, needs to be amended. We have a standing army made of our citizens, and all states have a National Guard that fulfills that role. All 50 states prohibit paramilitary activities. If people want to play soldier, they should join the armed forces.

As much as one can argue civilians should not have access to assault weapons, removing them is not going to happen anytime soon and might not do anything. While banning assault weapons would solve the issue of people going on killing sprees, gun ownership is so culturally ingrained in this country that resistance to a ban would be significant, and it most definitely would not pass as legislation.

We have to find a way for society to live with these kinds of weapons in a more productive and less dangerous way. We might not be able to prevent someone from getting an assault weapon outright, but hopefully there can be a way to reduce the lethality and frequency of mass shootings. For now, it needs to be a lot harder for people who are violent, extremists with radical beliefs, suicidal or have a criminal history to get weapons.

It wouldn’t be a bad idea to make a federal law requiring people to become certified to own a gun. It’s a weapon and that demands a sense of responsibility. We are required to have insurance to drive; we have to pass a test, have good eyesight and follow strict rules with the fear of heavy penalties. It would make sense if there were some similar accountability for assault weapons.

As of now, only the AR-15’s receiver is regulated by the government. That equates to the chassis of a car and does not consider modification or additions. But this is a gun, not a car — it is meant to kill.

Committing to mandatory background checks prior to selling firearms and keeping that database up to date are ways we can address this issue.

We need to give gun regulation the same respect we do with cars; decrease lethality by regulating their caliber, the types of ammunition sold, as well as limit modifications and magazine capacity to something police departments are comfortable with managing. Because at the end of the day, police officers are the ones who have to resolve mass shootings. Perhaps they should be the ones saying what needs to be done, not a senator.

Unfortunately, politicians still haven’t done anything after dozens of shootings. So why should anyone believe another dozen will change anything?

The subject of guns has been a political issue for decades. Neither party seems to respect the other’s point of view; instead, many politicians prefer to spread destructive conspiracies about the subject. Part of the problem is the NRA, which holds a great deal of political influence. As long as its grip remains strong, many lawmakers will be afraid to act.

Both sides need to compromise on this and find a happy medium that addresses the issue properly. It shouldn’t be this hard or controversial.

Ben Timm is a senior at Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School. Contact him at monkebuziness@gmail.com.

(9) comments

Alexander sturmovikov

This is a well-researched piece. The writer clearly knows what they are talking about and have asked some relevant if not tough questions about weapons ownership and what exactly qualifies as a weapon. This is good, where do we draw a line if at all? When discussing this stuff we have to keep in mind the entire point of the article, which appears to be asking lawmakers to take the issue seriously. Even though Mr. Timm comes to the conclusion that an AR is "a bit much", there is recognition that probably not much will be done anyway due to this country's culture and the tangible nature of weaponry. Realistic and well-thought-out take. Bravo

Khal Spencer

So we are to control the lethality of arms the way we do the lethality of cars? Ok, so I can go out today and buy a turbocharged, jacked up, 6000 lb SUV or modify a garden variety car with aftermarket parts and barrel down the streets of Santa Fe with impunity. There is little in the way of safety-analyzed limits on the lethality of cars and light trucks or SUVs, especially with respect to vulnerable roadway users. The Hummer or Super Duty are the motorist equivalents to an AR.

Having firearm safety training for guns as an analogy of Driver Ed or for that matter, the teaching of rhetoric in support of the First Amendment in schools would be a great idea. Try getting liberals to agree to that. But the author has one thing right: the 2A was meant to ensure the ability of the people to keep and bear the kinds of arms relevant to service in the militia, as the Miller decision clearly states. In modern terms, that seems to indicate modern military designs. That said, there are well defined limits to military-relevant weapons the private citizen can own, as defined in the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968 as well as in the context of judicial precedent. There is plenty of room for discussion without having to amend the Constitution.

robert bourque

How about obeying the Second Amendment? Read the Amendment - the first term is "well-regulated". Guns and their owners are hardly well-regulated when all kinds of crazies can get all kinds of guns.

Khal Spencer

The Bill of Rights was added to put limits on the government, not on individuals. Its the "government" that has to "obey" the Bill of Rights.

Mangas Coloradas

Unfortunately, even though I sympathize with much that he has to say, Mr. Timm basically doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The AR-15 that is sold to Americans is NOT an assault style military weapon. True assault weapons are fully automatic rifles which are illegal without a Treasury department license. Essentially, they are a machine gun. The AR-15 commonly sold is a semi-automatic rifle identical in function to many other hunting and sporting rifles that don’t have the scary black plastic stocks or the other trappings of actual military weapons. A ban on the semi-automatic weapons with black plastic stocks that look scary while leaving identically operating rifles with wooden stocks and more conventional aspect is just silly.

When the Bill of Rights was passed, their was no idea whatsoever of the future and the coming invention of semi-automatic and fully automatic firearms. It is illegal already to have a howitzer guarding your homestead. It is illegal to have a fully automatic Maxim machine gun ensconced on your porch We need to make all semi-automatic firearms illegal also. These weapons are just not reasonable to have present in a civilized society. If you want to hunt deer/elk/or sheep, you can do so quite effectively with a bolt-action or lever action rifle. If you want to protect your home, it is hard to argue that a revolver or a pump shotgun is not more than adequate.

Unfortunately, the gun banners usually don’t know what they are talking about … and the gun nuts won’t accept any reasonable limitations on what they can purchase.

Khal Spencer

Yeah, that Remington Nylon 22 rimfire semiautomatic rifle is really a threat. Sounds like you need to go back to the drawing board too.

Alexander sturmovikov

I disagree. They know exactly what they are talking about when it comes to weapons and make very sound points when it comes to relevance. It can be argued that what distinguishes an assault rifle from its contemporary battle rifle is its capacity, being weildy, and caliber, not the type of fire. Look at the FN FAL for example, which is categorized as a battle rifle despite its ability to fire automatically. So, an AR is as said, "by definition an assault rifle". To add on, an assault rifle is not like a machine gun at all, which is probably why we can own them. They completely lack the capacity and weight to function as one, even if they are enabled as fully automatic. In military use, they serve a completely different purpose to a squad machine gun. Always have.

mark Coble

2nd amendment is NOT just about hunting rights. Do you have the right to self defense? Should that right be limited? Will your attackers self limit as well? No, the 2nd amendment is very clear. There should be no limit to the type of weapon you can use to defend yourself as the enemy will use the best and most lethal weapon they can find. Then your butter knife looks silly.

Barry Hirsh

I've yet to read in the Bill of Rights, "the right of the people to keep and drive cars shall not be infringed."

What anyone may consider "commonsense" does not trump black-letter constitutional commands.

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