BY: Patrick Lozy-Lester
How silly would it be for us to respond to the ever-growing attacks overseas, in which terrorists drive trucks into crowds of people, by banning trucks? Why does that sound irrational? Because there are several uses for trucks. Trucks transport goods for sale, trucks are manufactured by factory workers, driven by employees, and they consume gas, all of which grow the economy. The benefit to society that trucks provide outweigh the harm done when people misuse them. As illogical as it would be to ban trucks, it would be equally illogical to ban civilian gun ownership, an unalienable right to citizens, due to the evil actions of a tiny percentage of society. The benefit to society that guns provide outweigh the harm done when people misuse them.
What benefit am I referring to? Why is our second amendment absolutely crucial for democracy? The second amendment of our constitution, which allows for civilian gun ownership, was not created for self-defense, nor for hunting. The second amendment was specifically written to recognize the universal right for civilians to defend themselves in the event that their all-too-human government becomes tyrannical and tries to violate that right.
This principle is how the American colonies were able to fight off the army of King George’s tyrannical British Parliament in the Revolutionary War. History is loaded with examples of governments becoming tyrannical: 19th century France was replete with tyrannical empires, 20th century Spain was marred with tyranny around World War II, Nazi Germany revoked gun rights from its non-military citizens and Jewish citizens, and the same tyranny occurred in Italy and Japan.
The architects of the constitution recognized the universal truth that man and woman have individual dignity and value, and these are not subject to revision by another man, woman, or government. As stated by Kevin Williamson of the National Review, “Whether one believes that man was created by God or by evolutionary processes, the conclusion ends up being the same: Man has reason, individual and corporate dignity, individual and corporate value, and these are not subject to revision by any prince, power, or potentate.” As those in government will inevitably try to undermine the populace for their own personal gain of power, civilian gun ownership is the only means by which democracy can be secure in America. There are some who will argue that the power of voting is enough to secure democracy. If a government official (a police officer) is pointing a gun at you, what power does your vote hold? Once the fundamental right to bear arms is only given to the government and its police officers, by what means can citizens defend their freedom? If citizens are stripped of their right to possess arms, the government has nothing holding them back from stripping other rights of citizens.
Regarding current gun control measures…what more needs to be done?
Unbeknownst to most Americans, many of the provisions that mainstream pundits are calling for are already law. Selling guns to mentally ill people is already outlawed based on U.S. Code 18USC922G. Civilian possession of machine guns has been illegal since the Firearm Owner’s Protection Act of 1986. Federal background checks have been required for any buyer of a gun from a federally licensed arms salesperson since the Brady Bill was passed in 1993. So what more do we need?
Several people have called for the requirement of universal background checks, which would mean that a private transaction (i.e. My uncle sells me his hunting rifle) would be required to be processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check system (NICBC). The problem with this is that there is absolutely no way to regulate a private transaction, unless you find out the transaction was performed illegally after the fact. Do you really believe that members of the gang “Latin Kings” in Chicago would process each gun transaction with the NICBC? The universal background check seems to provide negligible benefit. However, if that is a policy legislators are willing to pursue, it does not seem to infringe on the 2nd amendment.
It is my personal opinion, as well as that of the National Rifle Association (NRA), that fully automatic assault weapons be made illegal for civilian possession. I think that unmodified semi-automatics provide adequate protection for civilians in the event of a government tyranny, and that fully automatics present a greater danger than benefit onto civilians. There will be people who argue for semi-automatics to be banned from civilian use as well. For those who oppose civilian ownership of semi-automatics, the power of un-modified semi-automatic weapons are often greatly exaggerated by mainstream media. A semi-automatic rifle does not send pulses of bullets with the squeeze of a trigger. With one squeeze of the trigger, one bullet is discharged. The only means that a semi-automatic can release bullets at a high rate, like that we saw in Las Vegas, is if the semi is modified.
One popular gun control measure becoming increasingly pursued is the banning of modifications for semi-automatic rifles. Semi-automatics can be illegally modified to mimic the power of a fully automatic assault rifle. Stephen Paddock utilized several semi-automatic rifles fitted with a bump stock in Las Vegas, which is a spring attached to the back end of the semi-automatic that absorbs the recoil after a shot, and allows the gun to recoil back and forth while the finger stays steady on the trigger. Bump stocks are easy to construct, which means federal regulation of bump stocks would be excruciatingly difficult. Should we make illegal modifications? No problem. However, similarly to the universal background checks, there is no realistic way of enforcing the law.
Gun control is a complex issue to create solutions for, because humans will always have the capacity for evil. Mass shootings make every gun control law seem ineffective, and they make a blanket gun ban seem like the only possible solution. But history must not be forgotten. Governments that have disarmed its citizens in the past have also revoked free speech, free property, and free press rights from those citizens. No power has the right to strip away the rights of a person. The inalienable right of citizens to arm themselves will never cease to exist regardless if it is written in the constitution.