By: Ricky Plascencia
Gun control has become a hot topic in light of recent shootings, including the attack at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut and several other public shootings. Although gun control approval spikes directly after these shootings, it is the opinion of the majority of American citizens that gun control will not stop the violence. According to the National Rifle Association (NRA), which continues to strongly defend the Second Amendment right to bear arms; gun control is unecesarry and infringes on the rights of individuals to feel safe and self reliant. Nationwide surveys declare that most Americans are in favor of gun rights rather than that of gun control. According to CNN, only 25% of Americans favor a handgun ban, a record low. Even more so, 14% of people in support of gun rights also believe that gun laws should become more lenient. With over 300 million guns in the United States alone, banning firearms would not make it much more difficult for a criminal to acquire a firearm, just illegal for a law abiding citizen to protect their family.
Guns have made up a huge part of American history. Firearms have become a representation of victory and honor. Guns were used to declare independence from the British and used to free enslaved African Americans and to help rescue the millions of jews held captive in Nazi Germany. Guns are a way to aid those in need and maintain a world where freedom and liberty exist. In 1871 an organization we know today as the NRA was founded protect our Second amendment right to bear arms and educate citizens about it. The NRA’s main goal is “to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States… especially the right to keep and bear arms. They have strongly and effectively defended the rights of law-abiding citizens who like to hunt or would want guns for personal protection. Nearly six-in-ten Americans believe gun ownership does more to protect people from becoming victims of crime than it puts people at risk.
The NRA is also a strong advocate for gun education. The NRA has taken the initiative to present teaching seminars and classes all over the country on gun safety; in fact they have become the number one gun education organization in the U.S. The NRA currently has over 50,000 Certified Instructors who are tasked with teaching about 750,000 gun owners a year on topics like personal safety using handguns and how to use hunting rifles. In 1988 the Eddie Eagle gun safety program was founded and they have since taught over 12 million pre-kindergarten to 6th grade kids how to approach a situation involving an unsupervised gun, “STOP. DON’T TOUCH. LEAVE THE AREA. TELL AN ADULT”. NRA Foundation. The NRA not only leads the country in gun safety teach-ins but also famously addresses school shootings with sincerity and remorse. Eleven days after the Columbine massacre in Jefferson County, Colorado, NRA President Wayne LaPierre addressed the nation about the importance of firearm safety: “We believe in absolutely gun-free, zero-tolerance, totally safe schools. That means no guns in America’s schools, period.” LaPierre even proposed to make mentioning guns in school a crime. “Such behavior in our schools should be prosecuted just as certainly as such behavior in our airports is prosecuted,” LaPierre said. No sane human has not grieved for the loss of the innocent people killed in these killing sprees. In fact, the only time when support for gun control increases is directly after a mass shooting, but when the news get old, support plummets. After the mourning, people come to the realization that, like LaPierre once said, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
The most quoted argument against gun control is, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Public shootings remain a huge tragedy in the United States, but gun supporters maintain the belief that the cause of these massacres is really an issue of mental health and other causes of violent behavior rather than gun control. “We examine the profiles of these killers, which often include histories of mental illness, and it is easy to assume, with the benefit of hindsight, that their crimes were inevitable or predictable. Forty-eight percent of Americans blame the mental health system for mass shootings in the United States.
“Your protection is your responsibility.” This is a point that gun advocates often stress. Along with the 2008 recession came a wave of cutbacks including government funded jobs like the police and other law enforcement. A woman in Newark relates, “nearly a sixth of the city’s police force was laid off amid budget cuts about two years ago. And Newark is by no means unique in implementing police cutbacks to save city money. Meanwhile, violent crime soared 18% nationwide last year, marking the country’s first rise since 1993. She goes on to say that with rising crime rates and limited police force her safety is in her hands.
The peace of mind that comes from having your own weapon to defend yourself is a major argument gun advocates often feel very strongly about A 24-year old single woman in Napa says,“as a young woman who lives alone and lives in a rather rough area of town, guns are what allow me to sleep at night.”Even though she’s never actually had to use a gun in self-defense, she says she’s happy with her ability to protect herself and relies on skills that “come from a lifetime of safe gun training and ownership.
The NRA recounts stories of the many instances where guns have aided and often saved lives in cases of home invasions and store robberies. Guns are used for self defense over 2.5 million times a year in the U.S alone and as of 2013, 48% of people report that their main reason for owning a gun is for protection. The elimination of civilian gun possession, as some politicians have proposed, would deny american citizens their right to feel safe and self reliant in the midst of our ever rising crime rate. The NRA has coined the phrase, “When the seconds count the police are minutes away.” In the wake of real danger it is all too common for the police to be ‘too late’ to stop the perpetrator; and this could be the difference between life and death. This is a powerful argument for continuing the importance of the Second Amendment rights to bear arms in the U.S The Constitution, Is the supreme law of the land that guarantees citizens maintain the right to bear arms for the safety of their family.
Owning firearms is also an ingrained part of American culture. “Firearms are a way of life,” according to Alexis Frazier of Idaho. She owns pistols, shotguns and rifles for hunting and sport shooting, and says guns “can be a gateway to a wonderful sportsman lifestyle.” Frazier also believes gun owners have a responsibility “to be kind and sensitive to folks who don’t have exposure to firearms. There is so much fear surrounding this issue and I think mutual understanding and respect can replace this fear if people try.”
The United States of America was established with certain freedoms and liberties, and among these is the right to bear arms for the protection of the people. Gun control is not about reducing violence, gun control is a way for the government to control its citizens. Gun control advocates are quick to blame every gun-related tragedy on a lack of gun control but the truth is that, “like it or not, the folks spraying our cities with bullets are not NRA members or legal gun owners. The truth is more complicated than that, and we need to look at the root causes of violence in our society including mental illness if we really want to prevent future tragedies like Columbine and Newtown.
While there is illegal gun possession and criminals in American society, It will be necessary for those who value and abide the laws to protect themselves against those who do not. Guns are not the menacing objects so many people seem them as but tools for protection and leisure. The sooner law abiding citizens can aid in enforcing law and preventing crime, the closer we will all be to having the ability to live in a country where guns for self defense aren’t necessary; but we are most definitely not there yet. Guns are a necessary component of American culture and always have been; it is the reform of a country plagued with animosity that is necessary not the seizure of self protection.