DAISY LETENDRE ’13
Gun control supporters look to capitalize following a horrific tragedy. In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting Democrats in Congress and President Obama are scrambling to push any and all gun control legislation possible. Obama sees the Sandy Hook shooting as a call for stricter gun control laws and yet he overlooks the fact that law-abiding Americans, while sharing in the grief of what happened in Newtown, Conn. still value their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
The President’s initiative to reduce gun violence contains within it various restrictions including four legislative proposals and 19 executive actions. The legislative proposals include universal background checks for all looking to purchase firearms, a crack-down on gun trafficking, a ban on military-style assault weapons and a ban on ammunition limiting magazines to 10 rounds, among others.
The first issue with the President’s proposals is that they would not have prevented the Sandy Hook massacre or the 2012 theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado from occurring, as the weapons and ammunition used in both assaults were purchased legally (The weapon used in the Newtown shooting was purchased legally by Nancy Lanza whose son Adam stole it from her). Second, the President’s proposals define military-style assault weapons according to how a gun looks, not according to the firearm’s effectiveness or actual killing power. Many guns used for sport, and untouched by the President’s proposals, are more dangerous than these so called “military-style” assault weapons. In fact, according to FBI data, less than three percent of murders in the United States for which the murder weapon is known are committed with military-assault rifles, regardless of how we define them.
Third, the most dangerous aspect of these gun control proposals is the effect they have on the American Constitution and our individual liberties. President Obama and Vice President Biden have both been quoted saying that “anything is worth it even if one life can be saved.” Yet, doing away with a constitutional liberty is too great a price to pay – especially when the legislative proposals will not be effective anyway.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) released a statement in January following the Sandy Hook shooting and President Obama’s subsequent gun control proposal. Graham states that “one bullet in the hands of a homicidal maniac is one too many. But in the case of a young mother defending her children against a home invader – a real-life event which recently occurred near Atlanta – six bullets may not be enough.
Criminals aren’t going to follow legislation limiting magazine capacity. However, a limit could put law-abiding citizens at a distinct disadvantage when confronting a criminal.”
The Second Amendment has been subject to much debate in recent history. In 2008 the Supreme Court declared that the Second Amendment is not only a collective right but also that gun ownership is also a right of the individual. At the time Obama, a Presidential hopeful, approved of the Supreme Court’s ruling saying that “if we act responsibly, we can both protect the constitutional right to bear arms and keep our communities and our children safe.”
While the 2008 ruling could not have predicted the tragedies that would occur just a few years later, it also had nothing to do with them. President Obama, in his second term, however, has shown a disregard for what he once saw as a constitutional right. By looking to impose greater gun control, the President is sacrificing the individual liberties as enumerated by the Constitution because of the actions of the few.
President Obama’s legislative proposals are being rushed through Congress and are based entirely on the emotions surrounding the tragic Newtown shooting. They have little regard for effectiveness or constitutionality. A few actions might be useful in curbing some gun-related violence such as a crack-down on gun trafficking and greater education on securing weapons. But as the nation moves forward from recent tragedies it is imperative our political leaders remember the difference between the rights and liberties of the many law abiding citizens and not the few who, for whatever reason, do not or cannot abide by such laws. Vigilance, as opposed to the destruction of rights, is our best defense against gun violence as it is impossible to legislate evil and stupidity out of existence.