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Too late for conservatism on gun control

Sunday , July 22, 2018 - 12:00 AM2 comments

KADE COMBE
TX. Correspondent

Considering the recent school shootings that have swept the nation, as well as marking the one-year anniversary of the Las Vegas shooting, it becomes necessary to examine why government action on gun control is critical and why it is not possible to reach a conservative solution.

The conservatives, or supporters of the National Rifle Association (NRA), advocate against a change in the law because they do not want their guns to be taken away. This problem of mass shootings, however, cannot go away unless action is taken. These issues have become a bigger threat to United States citizens than any foreign threat the government currently concerns itself with.

It seems the dominant argument among those on the other side, we will call them the liberals, is to repeal the Second Amendment. While that does advance the solution, removing the Second Amendment cannot happen because removing an amendment from the Bill of Rights, or even changing it for that matter, is viewed as an infringement on the unalienable rights of the people.

Also, to fully understand the position the Constitution has on gun rights, it’s necessary to take a closer look at the Second Amendment. It may be the shortest of the amendments in the Bill of Rights, but the wording is crucial to full understanding.

• What does it say?

The full text of the Second Amendment is, “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.”

When people refer to this amendment, it’s become a habit to jump right into the second half starting with, “the right of the people …” This, however, is not the most important part. The first part of the amendment is just as important, maybe more so, in explaining its purpose: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State …” These words clearly state the purpose of the Second Amendment was not strictly to secure the right to bear arms. Its true purpose is to secure the right of the people to organize to defend themselves..

Also, to fully understand the meaning behind the amendments of the Bill of Rights, we must look at the context in which they were made over 200 years ago. Remember that the British had control of the weapons and the colonists had no rights to have weapons, so if the colonists were considered a threat, their weapons were just taken away. The Founding Fathers were simply trying to secure the right of the people to defend themselves.

Put this knowledge into today’s situations and there is no way that the school shooters or the Las Vegas shooter fit in with the theme of defense in the Second Amendment. This need for a close analysis of the amendment is the very reason that arguments that bring up the Second Amendment are weak and often one-sided. People stick to using the parts that suit their purposes and ignore the others.

• Compromise not an option?

The reason a solution regarding gun control has not been reached is because no solution is easy and compromise is not an option for either conservatives or liberals. It may sound harsh to those who take a conservative position on this issue, but if the government is going to put more restrictions on guns, they need to be heavy restrictions with heavy penalties. Otherwise, they will not be effective in preventing these crimes.

Criminals know they are breaking the law. What makes the difference is the justification. As any good investigator will explain, there are three basic questions to ask during an investigation: Who had the motive? Who had the means? And who had the opportunity?

That first one is important. The motive is the reason the person committed the crime. It’s how criminals justify what they did. Now, the criminals involved in the shootings are guilty, and they are guilty of murder, still a large crime — the most severe crime tried in our courts — but they are not guilty of possession of a weapon. Abusing a weapon, yes, but not simply possessing one. The Second Amendment seems to take care of that.

But as stated above, it does not protect in these cases. We see this all the time in courts. If a person goes on trial for killing someone, but it can be proven to be self-defense, there is a good chance for acquittal. This is because the Second Amendment allows citizens to bear arms for defense.

This is not to say a gun’s sole purpose is to kill a human being; hunting can be enjoyable for many. I’m not saying people can’t hunt because it’s not using a gun for defense. Hunting doesn’t harm people. The government doesn’t need to ban hunting, although that could become a possibility if guns continue to be abused.

• More regulations needed

Most liberals only see one way to solve this shooting problem: repeal the Second Amendment. However, the government is wary to do so because changing the Bill of Rights is something that has never been done. These are not just any amendments to the Constitution, these are specific rights the government is not supposed to mess with. Yet if liberals and conservatives continue in this tug-of-war, then soon, the government will not have any choice but to take away one of our rights.

There is a solution that is not quite so harsh, but that may raise a few eyebrows — more regulations on acquiring weapons, restrictions on the types of weapons allowed to be carried by civilians, abolition of the concealed-carry permits, requirement that any and all weapons be declared and/or visible, requirement that all wishing to carry a weapon become licensed (and instead of giving a blanket license for all weapons, give a license for specific weapons), and increasing the effort it takes to get a license, like instituting and enforcing a background check. 

None of these ideas are an infringement on the right to bear arms. They are not fully preventing people to bear arms, simply making guidelines that the Second Amendment does not make clear. A potential gun license applicant with a history of serious crimes would be prevented from purchasing a gun, a right which he or she gave up when they committed that crime and violated the law of the land. That is not the removal of the Second Amendment; that is the enforcement of policy which already exists.

The government has the right and the duty to take action. There are solutions that do not deny people their Second Amendment rights but simply provide rules and regulations to go along with this right. This is the same thing parents might do when they give their child the right to stay out late; they make very clear rules regarding how and to what extent the right can be used.

The research on gun control ideas is surprisingly low. This is because, until recently, the government had a freeze on research regarding gun violence. Putting this kind of freeze on an issue is the same as ignoring it completely. 

Kade Combe will be a senior this fall at DaVinci Academy. He loves the theater, arts and technology. Contact him at kadecombe00@gmail.com.

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