Guns: Do they represent freedom in America, or a hostile, anarchic society?
“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.” The Second Amendment protects United States citizens rights to bear arms, on the basis that it will create a more secure environment in America. Although this is a pertinent reason for residents of the U.S. to own guns, as it makes citizens feel safer and provides them with self defense, does owning a gun actually do the opposite? With a fatal device at our disposal, the allowance of guns enables people to easily cause harm to others; the United States has faced hundreds of mass shootings, occurring simply because of the easy access to guns.
If the main reason for bearing arms is to defend oneself, should the right to carry a gun be reserved for military and police, whose actual job it is to protect U.S. citizens? It’s almost ironic that one feels the need to defend oneself with a gun, only when being threatened by one. By this logic, if civilians were not allowed to own guns, we would not be facing the problem of having people feel they need to purchase firearms for self defence. Milo Kern, (‘20), says that “If someone does come into your house with a gun, your words are not going to stop them from doing whatever they are going to do. So, yes, guns in general do make the world a more dangerous place.” However, if we were able to take away the initial threat of guns, it would end the vicious cycle of using firearms to attack and defend, which immediately make a situation more volatile.
The recent Las Vegas shooting sparked numerous gun control debates all over the United States, but sadly this is not the first time it has taken a tragedy like this to make us reevaluate our country’s priorities regarding gun control, or lack thereof. In a nation where there have been at least, according to BBC, 1,518 mass shootings in the past 5 years, it’s surprising that we are still having a discussion over whether gun control needs to be tighter. While the United States is not the only country in the world which has been shocked by the tragedy of a mass shooting, what makes it unique is that in other countries, mass shootings have often led the government to evaluate their gun laws.
As a response to the Las Vegas Shooting on October 1st, Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald wrote:
“We cannot understand how the long years of senseless murder, the
Sandy Hooks and Orlando’s and Columbines, have not proved to
Americans that the gun is not a precious symbol of freedom, but a
deadly cancer on their society. We point over and over to our own
success with gun control in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre,
that Australia has not seen a mass shooting since and that we are
still a free and open society.”
After the Port Arthur Massacre in Australia, the government drastically changed the ability to purchase guns, and they have not had a mass shooting since the moderation. In regards to the shootings regularly occurring in the United States, Ellie Happy (‘19) stated: “I wonder how many more people have to die in order for us to wake up and understand this cancer that is affecting this nation.”
Although there are gun laws and background checks made in various places throughout the United States, some places don’t even require one. According to CNN, at gun shows, one does not have to go through a background check and can purchase a gun even if they have/had mental disabilities or a criminal record. Ellie agrees that the easy access to guns in the U.S. is inexcusable:
“the fact that someone can get there hands on a full automatic weapon, like AK47 that was created for warfare, astounds and greatly discourages me.”
Although hundreds of U.S. shootings have occurred, congress still has yet to pass any laws regarding stricter background checks, as many people claim that they have guns for self defense.
So how do the current U.S. gun laws affect other countries, and their citizens’ perspectives of America and its residents? While many might assume it fits with the stereotypical American image — intensely exuding freedom and fierce patriotism — we thought it would be best to speak with someone with an outsider’s perspective. Ms. Iberraken, Dean of Class of 2020, acknowledges the impression that guns in the U.S have on foreigners perception of America:
“I think growing up outside of the U.S we knew how America was, not famous for, but that you could get a gun. … it was a very, very foreign concept to me that you can just buy a gun, in Walmart essentially.”
Ms. Iberraken, who moved to the U.S in 2012, adds that “The fact that you have to practice what happens if a person with a gun comes into school is utterly terrifying.”
The freedom that the United States allows its citizens is a privilege. However, some of these freedoms are too broad; giving people the ability to buy guns, often without a license, endangers the country. Even at the risk of putting our freedom in jeopardy, the right to bear guns should be reserved for military and police, in order to protect the millions of people living in the United States. Clearly, American citizens would benefit greatly from more strictly regulated gun laws, as their lives will not only be less endangered, but the general public would stop normalizing the frequency of mass shootings in the U.S.