Gun Ownership: Right or Privilege?

Original: February 8, 2011 Issue 10

Point

By: Hiba Ahmed

Staff Writer

There are many views amongst the activists in our society on gun ownership and the positives and negatives associated with it. Most fail to consider that owning the guns is not necessarily the issue, when the issue is rather the initial form of usage and purpose for our gun ownership. Sure, guns are there for the safety of family. To an extent this idea is understandable, but is it practical?

The Second Amendment was written at a time when gun possession was rightfully needed for the safety of the country. During the pre-revolutionary 1760s, the established colonial militia was composed of colonists, which included a number who were loyal to British imperial rule.

As defiance and opposition to the British rule developed, a distrust of these Loyalists in the militia became widespread among the colonists, known as Patriots, who favored independence from British rule. As a result, these Patriots established independent colonial legislatures to create their own militias, excluding the Loyalists and stocking independent armories for their militias.

In response to this arms buildup, the British Parliament established an embargo on firearms, parts and ammunition on the American colonies. British and Loyalist efforts to disarm the colonial Patriot militia armories in the early battles of the American Revolution lead to the Patriots’ citation of the Declaration of Rights in protest. The right of the colonists to arms and rebellion against oppression was thus asserted and eventually became a part of the Second Amendment in the Constitution.

The Second Amendment fulfilled its purpose when the time called for it hundreds of years ago, but times have extensively changed since then. Guns have multiple purposes, from hunting to safety. In contrast to safety, firearms are commonly used for the death of another, especially in warzones. The time has come to make new and drastic changes to our gun control laws.

Although the main purpose of guns is for the safety of loved ones or oneself, is it really any safer to have guns readily available to society, for anyone’s convenience and usage? To an extent it may very well be, but having them at home cannot, by any means, be any safer than by simply calling the police and having a professional handle the usage of fire arms.

Having guns at home increases the risk of domestic violence and potential danger in a home. As most know when a spouse or parent has uncontrollable anger, they are capable of committing any feat to have it their way. When they get angry, their anger escalates to dangerous levels at which reasoning with them is out of the question; their judgment is so impaired by their own outrage that they are not ready to listen to what is ethical or not.

When a gun is available, the angry person’s next reaction would be to instantly pull out a gun and use it as a tool to scare others into complying. Either way, it poses extreme danger to the person on the opposite side of the gun. Even if your family does not have domestic violence issues, it may be one with children who may or may not know the difference between a toy and a gun; without hesitation, they begin to play around with it, because society, with its violent games and television shows, shows how fun and exciting using a gun can be.

Children, with their naive and innocent mindsets, want to have fun, too. They pick up a gun and pull the trigger at the closest person or thing near them, and, well, you do the math. With all of this danger added to owning a gun in a home, how much safer could it really be to own one than having someone else come in and shoot you themselves? Not much at all.

Earlier this month, newly elected Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot because another person had decided to take advantage of the gun ownership laws in Arizona, which exist strictly for safety’s sake. Along with the purpose of killing Giffords, the gunman shot six other innocent bystanders as well, including a nine year old girl, who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

The people were all lined up next to a supermarket to talk to Giffords. Suddenly this little Q&A session became another misuse of guns, eventually hurting many others in the process.

There is never a logical reason to kill another person, not only because it is religiously unethical, but also because it makes the shooter no different from a criminal or terrorist, no matter what his or her political or social reason may have been.

Therefore, there should either be very strict laws, which are properly enforced, or a complete ban on the ownership of fire arms to people who are not professionally educated and trained to own.

Counterpoint

By: Evan Ricucci

Staff Writer

My counterpart in this debate gave a very clear history of the American Revolution and the time period in which the Second Amendment was written. However, she only tells part of the story.

The Second Amendment, and indeed all the rights given in Constitution, was written to protect the people from the government. The founders saw that our government is one of the most, if not the most, dangerous institutions in the world; therefore, the people must have the ability to protect and defend themselves from any potential usurpation of liberty by the government. So it was not simply a right given to the colonists so they could form militia and fight the British; it was written as a right given to all citizens for their own protection and safety.

For the sake of argument, however, let us assume that my counterpart is correct, and the Second Amendment only applied to the time in which it was written. If that is the case, what other rights given in the Constitution should we throw out because they were written a long time ago? Should the right to free speech be restricted because more people can be offended by that speech through mediums like radio and television?

In an era of terrorism should we throw out the Fourth Amendment, which assures all of us that the government cannot engage in the “unreasonable search and seizure” of our persons and belongings, not even for the sake of our “safety?” Or perhaps, since the government needs to keep us safe, we should throw out the Eighth Amendment, which guarantees us safety from cruel and unusual punishment.

The first ten amendments of the Constitution are meant to protect the people from the government and must not be infringed upon in any way, lest the government become unchecked and unaccountable to “We, the people.”

The idea that it is just as safe to call the police as it is to keep a gun in your home to protect yourself is rather flimsy, because it does not take into account the reality of time.

The difference between retrieving a gun and calling the police is a matter of minutes, which could change the fate of all involved. I would rather get a gun than have to sit in my home waiting for the police to get there, while an intruder is doing who knows what to my belongings or possibly even my family. Even if I did not approach and confront the intruder, having a weapon next to me as I called the police would help keep me calm and avoid panic.

The domestic violence argument does not hold water either, because guns are not the only dangerous object in the house. Anyone that owns kitchen knives, an ax, scissors, or even a pen has a weapon readily available to them for their use. So do we outlaw these as well? What about hunting bows and throwing knives? Where do we draw the line?

Another reason why weapons must be allowed is that they are a deterrent to crime. Someone is far less likely to assault me, if they know I may have a weapon. Even if guns are outlawed or restricted, criminals will still be able to get them, because laws do not matter to them in the first place.

All gun restrictions do is take firearms out of the hands of law abiding citizens, therefore removing a primary means of safety and security against those who would seek to do them harm.

Criminals will get their hands on guns, whether the government allows them or not – just as criminals steal, embezzle, speed, assault, etc., even though these things are all outlawed. Outlawing gun ownership cripples the ordinary citizen and empowers the criminal.

Finally, guns do not kill people. People kill people. As I said before, practically anything can become a weapon. A gun is not anthropomorphic or sentient. It cannot act on its own. It must be used by an individual. Guns are not responsible for murders; a murderer is responsible. And a murderer will get his hands on a gun whether it is legal or not. Even if they do not, there are plenty of other weapons available at their disposal to perform their heinous actions.

Guns play a vital role in stopping those that would commit crimes of the wickedest nature from carrying out these actions.