OPINION: A question of rights

gun-violence

A handgun and bullets lying on a table. "Gun violence" by St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

In the wake of the horrific school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, the nation is reeling again. The attack in Uvalde marked the 27th school shooting in 2022, but it’s one of over 200 mass shootings this year. That’s a striking number for any nation, but it’s an all too familiar number for Americans. 

Gun violence in the United States is a crisis of incredible magnitude. America is one of the only developed nations in the world that experiences such an intense level of gun violence. When compared to developed nations with populations of 10 million or more, the U.S. comes in first for the most homicides caused by firearms

We have dozens of American citizens dying in the streets everyday, yet the response from our elected officials is apathetic at best and flippant at worst. Recent discussion surrounding gun violence in the Senate focused on gun-buying restrictions, creating more boundaries between young people and firearms and permitting individuals to flag those who may be a danger to themselves and others if in possession of an automatic weapon. But it is not enough. 

On Friday, the House of Representatives passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a bill which if signed by President Joe Biden, would be America’s first real attempt at gun control in decades. Yet, the bill still has many loopholes that will not necessarily prevent mass gun violence in the future. Instead, it advocates for much of the same weak reforms lawmakers have been proposing for years now.

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The kind of background checks and mental health awareness advocacy pushed by many in the Senate will not solve the problem of gun violence. Flagging potentially dangerous individuals will not prevent them from going to their local Walmart and buying the biggest, most dangerous gun they can have. These half-hearted attempts at gun control will not bring back those who lost their lives, nor will they do anything meaningful to halt the loss of life in the future.

Firearms in this nation have caused unimaginable pain. As such, they should be taken away from private owners, or at the very least, restricted to the point where private ownership of an assault rifle would be illegal. 

Private ownership of a firearm is not only more dangerous for the public as a whole given the potential casualties, it is also more likely to lead to homicide in one’s own home. There has been pushback when it comes to non-lethal weapons like tasers replacing traditional guns, at least when it comes to law enforcement's use of stun-guns. In many cases they can be lethal.

However, most civilians who own tasers do not own police-grade versions, which can shoot up to 50,000 volts of electricity and deploy up to 35 feet. While still a potentially violent weapon, the taser owned by a civilian can, and in most cases will, disarm an attacker. A weapon such as a taser can help keep its owner safe, which is the point of owning such an object in the first place, without providing the same potential for widespread violence as a gun. 

If an American has the option to own a non-lethal weapon for their own safety in the face of an attacker or general assault, why would they not take that option? 

We cling desperately to the Second Amendment while surrounded by bloodshed. Are we so reluctant to change the Constitution to protect the lives of our own citizens? The right to bear arms is a relic of a bygone era, one that saw its people use crude weapons incomparable to today’s firearms. The most common weapon used by domestic terrorists today is the AR-15, which fires three times the speed of sound. I highly doubt our forefathers would feel so strongly about arming American citizens with such hideous weapons of mass destruction. 

Freedom is a complicated subject in the U.S. It has many different meanings for each American who hears the word. But, I believe we can all agree that freedom is, if nothing else, the right to life. It is the right to walk through one’s community, school and supermarket without fear of being hunted and killed by a madman. If removing these weapons from the hands of citizens saves the life of even one innocent child, then is that not enough of a push to lay down our guns?

We have done more in this nation to protect the presence of assault weapons than we have our own citizens. As talk surrounding gun violence dominates Washington in the coming weeks, my only hope is that our officials will begin to consider the people over the machine. A person’s right to own a gun does not supersede someone else’s right to life. We all deserve freedom, and we all must fight to make that dream a reality. 


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Sophia Applin 

Sophie Applin is the current Opinions editor for the Daily Wildcat. She enjoys reading, writing and having strong opinions.


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