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Wednesday, October 1, 2014 | Last updated: 7:16am

Gung-ho gun laws favor hype over safety



We all accessorize our outfits in different ways. Some, like me, focus on sneakers, some have a bag to go with every outfit, others love watches and a few collect cuff links. Unfortunately, some gun enthusiasts use guns as accessories, and they want the right to carry them everywhere.

But a gun isn’t a fashion accessory, it’s a weapon, and no one needs to have one on them at all times.

I hope I’m correct in assuming that people who carry, either openly or concealed, don’t view their gun as a toy. They say it’s for protection, but what is the need for extra deadly protection as they walk through the Walmart next to Foothills Mall?

Though I grew up around guns and began shooting at age 10, I’ve never felt the need to carry a gun on me, even in situations where I felt threatened. Looking back, all I can think is that a gun does nothing more than add a potentially deadly element to any conflict.

However, the gun lobby led by the National Rifle Association is pushing against any attempt to limit one’s ability to carry a firearm, whether out in the open or concealed, and has acted to expand gun owners’ rights.

In the past couple of years, we have seen horrible gun-related tragedies that put cities on the map: Aurora, Colo., Newtown, Conn., and sadly, Tucson. However, while some responded to these events with efforts to restrict access to guns, or at least where weapons are allowed, others — including conservative lawmakers and the NRA — have damned restrictions, arguing that an expansion of the freedom of gun owners is the solution.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA, said to a crowd of cheering gun supporters just a week after Adam Lanza killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

Many states, including Arizona, have reacted to gun violence with proposals to give guns to teachers or to allow guns in bars. For the most part these proposals failed, until Georgia’s House Bill 60 was passed on April 23. H.B. 60 is referred to by many as the “guns everywhere” bill because it allows schools to authorize teachers to carry guns, allows bars to permit guns — including concealed weapons — and grants gun owners the right to take guns to the airport.

The tragedy of this bill? A small, militant group of gun owners has become the only political voice for weapons. Many gun owners actually don’t share their sentiments.

A study done by the Coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that, depending on how questions about gun control were phrased, even NRA members supported gun control in certain capacities.

The survey found that 85 percent of gun owners, and 89 percent of Americans in general, support a law that would require background checks for guns sold at gun shows.

Additionally, NRA members showed support when the survey asked if laws should be in place to prevent terrorists and criminals from getting guns. It makes me wonder why they are so eager to expand gun rights and oppose any limitations on gun purchases.

If the only thing that can stop a “bad” person with a gun is a “good” person with a gun, then why would this poll find that people are in support of preventing gun sales to known terrorists and criminals?

If someone is absolutely dead-set on getting a gun, they will find a way, but background checks and other steps might have prevented tragedies like those in Aurora and Tucson. Even those who profess to be adamantly against gun restriction seem to agree, whether they would admit to it or not. Moreover, if gun owners can support limitations for terrorists and criminals, why can’t they support the background checks and training that would help find those threats?

Guns are dangerous. As much as some people in this country want to be able to carry a gun and protect themselves when their country club is attacked by Al-Qaeda, the fact that they can be swayed in a gun control debate shows that gung-ho gun law expansion isn’t the right choice. Maybe a more measured and moderate approach, with common sense limitations, is needed.

It’s time to step back and be honest with ourselves, time to recognize that guns aren’t toys or fashion accessories. I can’t kill someone with a pair of Jordan Flights. Maybe the real way to prevent the actions of a “bad” person with a gun isn’t the threat of a “good” person with a gun, but rather recognizing the danger of guns, and educating people who use them.

Eric Klump is a journalism senior. Follow him @ericklump


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