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 However, in terms of guns and ammunition, the Second Amendment is out of date and needs to be looked at for relevancy for this century.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.