You will be hard pressed to find anyone who has not been affected in some manner by the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas. As with any such horrific event, the call for support, compassion, and aid for those hurt was immediately drowned out by political rhetoric. Politicians and pundits cry out for, nay, demand, something be done about gun violence. “Assault weapon” bans, semi-automatic bans, longer waiting periods, restrictions on the amount of bullets or firearms a person can own, are all being ceaselessly debated and rationalized in a seemingly reasonable manner; further restricting and minimizing the 2nd Amendment, all in the name of public safety. The true underlying question being presented by the Left is this: how can any rational person watch the largest mass-murder involving firearms in modern U.S. history, and not feel that stronger gun laws and their intense enforcement is the only sensible course of action?
If one were to honestly support such a belief, one would have to stand behind the idea that asking your government to exercise force against millions of law-abiding citizens is a good thing. With an estimated 320 million privately owned firearms in the United States, it is safe to say that more than the vast majority of firearm owners keep and use their guns for lawful purposes only, never looking to harm an innocent person or wreak havoc in a terrorist plot. At what point will the civil liberties of millions matter over the false safety that gun laws provide? For instance, California has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, they did nothing to stop the San Bernardino shootings. Let’s not dismiss a freedom that provides millions with self-defense, recreation, and food in order to appease those calling for government intervention to act as saviors against the reckless few.
“The constitution shall never be construed…to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.”
― Alexander Hamilton
I believe both sides would agree that as long as guns exist in the world, no amount of regulation, bans, or enforcement will prevent mass shootings. All of the calls for “assault style” weapon bans and national gun control and registration laws will never stop someone who decides to inflict pain upon the world from doing so. Simply put, criminals do not follow the law. But, let’s not kid ourselves, even if the patrons at the music festival were allowed to be armed and had been skilled marksmen, a terrorist would still be sitting in a hotel window shooting innocents. Maybe the defense for the 2nd amendment, modern firearms, and limited obstructions for law-abiding citizens to acquire them, should not be about how an armed populace may or may not prevent mass shootings, but how it prevents the concentration of such power into the hands of an elected few. America has forgotten that at our founding, the British did not want the populace to have modern weaponry because it prevented control and obedience to the whims of a few. Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, the Holocaust, the situation in Venezuela, all of these countries were able to commit horrendous mass killings and atrocities against their people because the populace was disarmed. We should not forget that the US Government also has a checkered human right’s past, from Jim Crow Laws to the internment of Japanese American’s. Not even our government has been, is, or ever will be 100% benevolent, and we never should relinquish our individual rights every time a coward perverts them.
My unwillingness to leap to a legal “solution” to gun violence is twofold. First, I am a firm believer in our Bill of Rights, including the 2nd Amendment. To be clear, the 2nd Amendment enshrines individuals the right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes, but it does not allow or condone the murder of innocent people. We all have a right to defend ourselves with firearms or otherwise, but the moment that right is utilized for lawlessness and the destruction of innocent life, you have exited the realm of civil liberties and entered the realm of criminal behavior. Secondly, the vast majority of firearm owners adhere to the Constitution and the hundreds of millions of guns in this country are kept dormant or utilized for only lawful purposes. Banning firearms that millions of people lawfully and rightfully value while imposing onerous costs and obstructions is not only unfair, but unwise. There is undoubtedly room on all sides to empathetically feel the pain that guns cause when wielded by a terrorist, but any legal solution would require an unacceptable abridgment of not only the 2nd Amendment, but the rest of the Bill of Rights as well.