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<<Back to Issue December Volume # 78
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American Controversy: Gun Control

By Jakov Kendes '14

Fourteen years ago, two students from Columbine High School came to their school with firearms and explosives and killed 13 people and injured many more, then committed suicide. Six years ago, a student from Virginia Polytechnic Institute killed 32 people and injured 17 others. He committed suicide shortly after. Six months ago, an armed man opened fire on an audience in a Denver movie theatre, killing 12 people. That man was arrested and tried for first degree murder. Then in the most recent tragedy, an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut was forever scarred by the massacre of twenty children and six adult staff members. The shooter committed suicide as first responders came to the scene.

Tragedies like these should never occur in society. But when they do, people point fingers, blaming the shooter’s family, questioning the integrity of the witnesses to the crime and the relative state of our gun laws. We have seen that it is not a simple task to regulate the sale and use of firearms. The United States has supported the possession of guns since the Second Amendment gave people the right to bear arms. This amendment, however, was created in a culture very familiar with firearms, a culture that was in a state of constant apprehension. The United States had won a victory against Great Britain, but fear of retaliation was apparent. The Second Amendment was created so that an armed and ready public could be called upon in a moment’s notice to defend their country. In this day and age, threats occur internally more than externally, as evidenced by the many tragedies that occur on American soil by American people.

After the Newtown tragedy, the call for stricter gun laws had never been louder. Families of the victims didn’t ask for retribution but the prevention of another individual to commit such a terrible act. Mayor Bloomberg had already made possession of firearms illegal in New York City. President Obama is currently negotiating proposed gun laws with Congress. These newly proposed laws include many things: registry of past perpetrators, banning people with a history of mental illness from buying firearms and a ban on distribution of automatic rifles and large-capacity rifles. The laws will tighten gun control and help limit availability of firearms to threatening individuals.

Gun enthusiasts are not in favor of stricter gun laws, fearing their hobbies and welfare are being threatened. Congress, primarily conservative Republicans, and President Obama, a liberal Democrat, will no doubt butt heads over the issue of gun laws. A balance will have to be made where the distribution of guns is concerned.