Editorial: Why arguments against gun control are flawed
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In the wake of the horrific shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High School, many took to social media to share opinions regarding gun control and school shootings. While it’s easy to regurgitate ubiquitous fallacies about gun control, doing so doesn’t solve anything. Here are five arguments against gun control that we should stop using immediately and instead focus on real solutions.
“Gun control violates my Second Amendment rights.”
Well, not quite. The Second Amendment states: “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.” Yes, this protects our right to keep and bear arms, but it also calls for reasonable limitations – or regulation – of this right. Many gun rights activists regard any limitation as a constitutional violation. But just like any other right, we place limits on our rights to better society as a whole.
For example, the First Amendment protects our right to free speech, assembly, press, religion and to petition the government. However, the First Amendment does not grant citizens the right to make verbal threats or spread lies to intentionally damage someone’s reputation. Each of our rights come with reasonable limitations that the courts, Congress, state lawmakers and we citizens have deemed necessary to preserve and further our way of life. The right to own and possess a firearm should not take precedent over an individuals’ right to be safe from gun violence.
“The issue isn’t guns. It’s mental health.”
There is no doubt the our nation has a terribly flawed and underfunded mental health system. During the past few decades, particularly under the Reagan administration, federal funding for mental health was slashed. Our government is not meeting its duty to sufficiently protect and provide essential services for the mentally ill.
However, the solution to ending gun violence is not purely a mental health issue. The solution must be a combination of putting tougher restrictions on access to firearms and better treatment for the mentally ill. When those who are mentally ill gain access to firearms, catastrophic events can occur.
Additionally, gun violence is not always caused by those who suffer mental illness. An average of 3 percent of all gun deaths are the result of accidents, for example. While the conversation about improving our nation’s mental health system is an important one, it is not the only one we need to have. A solution to ending gun violence must include safety measures to assure that guns are handled and stored responsibly by those who are fit to do so.
“More people die in automobile accidents than die from guns, but we don’t ban cars, do we?”
This one never goes away despite the fact that it’s pathetically illogical. First of all, the premise of this argument is severely flawed. Nobody is suggesting an outright ban on firearms. Still, a 2011 report from the Violence Policy Center showed that gun deaths outnumbered motor vehicle deaths in the state of Washington. But even in states where gun deaths don’t outnumber motor vehicle deaths, this argument is still absurd. Yes, motor vehicle deaths are a serious problem. As a people, we have taken significant steps promote driver safety as well as improve safety features in our cars and in our roads. For example, we require car insurance. We must pass tests to obtain a license, and must register personal and vehicle information with law enforcement agencies. We have speed limits and other rules on our roads. We have strict penalties for violators of these laws, and licenses can be quickly revoked or suspended. But, we cannot seem to find the courage to take similar measures with guns.
Gun activists say that driving is a privilege and not a constitutional right. Are we really incapable of understanding that reasonable limitations to the Second Amendment would provide a safer society for all Americans? Voters in Washington will soon vote on Initiatives 591 and 594. Unfortunately, I-591 would bar the state legislature from taking any action on reasonable gun control measures. However, I-594 would close a loophole that currently allows gun sales between private parties, via the Internet and at gun shows to occur without any background check. Common sense background checks look at a person’s record for criminal activity and mental health alerts. Why would anyone want guns to get into the hands of convicted criminals or anyone mentally ill? I-594 is a step in the right direction, while I-591 is an insult to victims of gun violence.
“Criminals will always get guns, so there’s no point to gun control.”
In the historical ranking of complete cop-outs, this may top the list. This argument is frequently used to suggest that any attempt to regulate guns will be futile. This simply is not true. A study from the Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health compared the states’ strength of gun control laws to the rates of gun-related homicides and suicides. What did they find? States with stricter gun control laws had lower gun-related homicide and suicide rates. The study strongly suggested that reasonable gun control measures work.
The idea of doing nothing to solve gun violence is absurd. Yes, we’ll probably always have people who speed while driving, but that doesn’t mean we should get rid of speed limits. If people do not follow gun laws, they should be punished to the full extent of the law. We cannot sit idly by while gun violence continues to plague our nation. But that’s exactly what lawmakers have done.
After the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary massacre where a gunman killed 28 students and school staff, a bill was brought to the floor of the Senate. The proposed Manchin-Toomey Amendment would have required background checks on most private gun sales. It was co-sponsored by a Republican and a Democrat. And yet, the Senate shamefully voted it down. The amendment needed just six more votes to pass, but because many of our elected officials do not have the political courage to do what is in the best interest of their constituents, the amendment failed. It was an absolute disgrace. Congress may be sitting idly by, but we cannot afford to.
“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
Ah, yes. Our favorite. And by favorite, we mean the most ignorant defense out there. Yes, it’s true that a human being is usually needed to pull a gun’s trigger, but a person can do far more damage in a much shorter amount of time using a gun than a knife or some another potential weapon. Take the gun out of the incidents at Marysville Pilchuck or Seattle Pacific University or Sandy Hook Elementary, and there very well may have been serious injuries, but probably not immediate, violent deaths.
We need to stop excusing the role guns play in these serious acts of violence. Guns only increase the magnitude of havoc and terror. While this clichéd phrase may be fun to say superficially, it does nothing to solve the issue at hand. We need to stop using it if we’re serious about preventing gun violence.
How’d we do? What do you think about gun control? Are you for it? Against it? Let us know. Write a letter to the editor and email it to [email protected] or bring in to Room 130.