Monday, June 8, 2009

My thoughts on gun control

Over two hundred years ago, the right to keep and bear arms proved to be one of the strengths that bore the struggling American colonies to freedom as a united nation. Minutemen and ill-equipped militia banded together to drive one of the world’s superpowers from the American shores.

Now that right, assured of its hallowed position in the history of the United States., is in jeopardy. Liberal groups, claiming the interest of safety, want to remove the Americans’ right to have their own firearms.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees “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.”

There are some who would interpret the word “people” in that statement to mean the military, and those whose official duty it is to keep the peace. However, it is unlikely that the Founding Fathers meant it that way, having just emerged from a war where the common man, not only the police or a standing army, took up arms against tyranny. While law-enforcement and military professions are noble, each individual citizen should retain the ability to protect himself and his family.

Gun safety will always be an issue. Many well-meaning people believe that taking guns away from people will solve many of the crime problems societies face. However, statistics show otherwise.

A study based from the FBI Uniform Crime Report illustrates this point. Though the handguns per capita in the United States since 1945 have risen dramatically, the amount of gun-related crimes has remained relatively steady. Contrast that with Washington, D.C., which banned handguns in 1976. From 1976 to 1992, crime doubled, while the nation’s crime rate grew by a mere 12 percent.

Look at the example of Peru, where citizens aren’t allowed to own firearms. Instead, houses are enshrouded in bars to defend against criminals with no such restrictions. A former missionary who served there said, “In America, criminals live behind bars and people are on the streets. In Peru, criminals are on the streets and people live behind bars.” Such is the price of laws where ordinary people have no access to any means of defense.

Making laws against guns will only affect those who obey the laws. Great Britain has enacted strict gun control laws in the last fifty years. Now, according to several English newspapers, the number of illegal guns in the country has doubled. Those who choose not to obey the anti-gun laws will find their own ways around the law as they always have. Then the guns will have been taken out of the hands of the law-abiding citizen, though the criminal will still procure firearms from methods outside the law.

There is a necessary right for every American to be able to protect himself. Without the realization of this need in the past, America may never have been able to gain independence. In another study, this one by the Northwestern School of Law, Americans use firearms to defend themselves from criminals at least 764,000 times a year. The same organization surveyed imprisoned criminals and found that 34% of them had been "scared off, shot at, wounded or captured by an armed victim.”

Perhaps local governments should be given the ability to regulate firearms. It’s acceptable for an Idaho government, made up of Idahoans who know how Idahoans think and what Idahoans need, to decide what’s best for Idahoans, for instance. It is not, however, acceptable for a bureaucrat in Washington, D.C. to decide what is best in a faraway state in which he has never set foot.

And what would ordinary citizens need guns for?

Many different tastes and varied pleasures abound in the great United States, which stretches thousands of miles across mixed lifestyles. Many of those cultures fused into the great nation enjoy hunting and other outdoor pursuits, in which guns — held by responsible, benign adults — play a major role. Others enjoy shooting targets; still others collect firearms as a hobby.

Responsibility is a key factor. Simply arguing that something can be dangerous is not a justifiable reason for cutting off its availability. The key is to teach how to properly store, care for, and use firearms to avoid accidents. Thus, the law-abiding citizen — the only ones truly affected by anti-gun legislation, as pointed out earlier — would continue to enjoy the benefits of firearms.

Americans must be aware of the issues surrounding gun control and make choices based upon logic and statistics, not propaganda from either the right or the left. American history was written by those unafraid to stand up for their rights. The loyal supporters of the Constitution must never allow the precious pieces of American legacy to be stolen — like the freedom to keep and bear arms.

[Random point for Scrollies only: Alderaan was a peaceful planet, without weapons, and it got blown up by the Death Star. See where gun control got them.]

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