Gun Control Controversy
by The Milton Measure on Tuesday, February 12th, 2013
Last year at a small school in Cleveland, Ohio, a seventeen-year-old boy walked into the cafeteria and fatally wounded three of his classmates and injured two more. Police believe that Thomas Lane, the shooter, acquired the murder weapon, a Ruger .22 caliber pistol, from his grandfather. How could that seventeen-year-old boy have such easy access to such a harmful weapon? Adam Lanza, the Newtown shooter, lived in a household with available firearms despite his known mental illness. Where is the gun control that we so desperately need? The 30,000 gun-related deaths in 2012, including multiple mass shootings, are a clear signal of an outdated gun control policy too often manipulated by gun manufacturers and their allies.
As Washington braces for a heated debate on gun control, President Obama has promised to set the issue as one of his top second-term priorities. Pressured by public demand for security for themselves and their kids, Obama plans to place the controversial topic front and center, vowing that our “first job as a society [is] to keep the children safe.” However, his proposal, which seeks to restrict assault or military-style weapons, has received much criticism from Republicans and the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA, one of the most powerful lobbying groups on Capitol Hill, is currently fighting the President’s gun control proposal with all its might. In a letter quoted in the Washington Post, the NRA declared, “Barack Obama, Joe Biden and their gun ban allies in Congress only want to BLAME you, VILIFY you, BULLY you, and STRIP you of your Second Amendment freedoms.” The NRA went one step further and asked if Obama’s kids, who are protected by armed guards, are more important that the public’s, saying that Obama is an “elitist hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of security.”
The issue of gun control has been a pressing one for many years, yet the NRA has been able to avoid it. So when the problem was brought to national attention by recent mass shootings, the NRA, scrambling to deflect attention from itself, accused Obama of trying to “get everyone” and their Second Amendment rights. Calling Obama a hypocrite for having the Secret Service guard his children is awfully petty for such a large and influential organization.
Obama is not proposing a complete ban on guns. He firmly stands by his proposal that there should be a military-style assault weapons ban, a limit on the capacity of ammunition magazines to prevent mass killings, and a universal background check system for prospective gun buyers. After all, assault weapons used by the military have no reason to be out on the streets or in homes. Such powerful guns pose a threat to American society and American families, as they have no other purpose than to kill people. Going hunting or to gun ranges for recreation does not require army-level hardware. Military assault weapons should be sold to the people who need them – the military, not to a disturbed 20-year old man who stepped inside Sandy Hook Elementary and shot to kill.
However, Obama’s proposal does not focus enough on the person owning the gun. Currently, these proposed “universal background checks” proposed by lawmakers lack many important aspects to evaluate a buyer. Questions such as “How can you tell if someone is really mentally ill?” No good solution has been proposed so far. Washington needs to act.
But no matter what the specifics are, a ban on the most dangerous kinds of guns needs to happen quickly. Democrats and Republicans must come to an agreement to protect the American people. We may have the Second Amendment right to bear arms, but no one has the right to take away life on a massive scale. Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who suffered brain damage from a nearly fatal gunshot to the head in a violent attack in Tuscon, Arizona, struggled to speak as she asked lawmakers to be “bold and courageous.” Words haven’t gotten us far enough yet. What the public needs is action and leadership in Washington.
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