By Emily Moran

Elm Staff Writer

In the past few months, the nation’s policy on gun control has been thrust into the spotlight and become open to heavy criticism as a result of the tragic on-air shooting of two Virginia newscasters by a former coworker and the Delta State shooting in Mississippi.

In the aftermath of multiple tragic mass and public shootings, many have called for heavier restrictions on who is able to acquire guns and other such firearms.  One popular suggestion includes examining the mental health of those attempting to purchase a gun, prohibiting those who have a history of significantly aggressive outbursts from access to these guns. Despite the disturbing frequency of such attacks, opponents of gun control vehemently oppose any action taken in order to limit the availability of firearms.  These opponents often cite the Second Amendment as a core reason as to why guns should be made available to everyone – to limit availability would be unconstitutional.  However, is the reasoning behind the Second Amendment antiquated and inapplicable to life in America today?  If it is still applicable, should it be modified in order to prevent the mass shootings that seem to happen way too frequently?

Even though violent crime is currently at an all time low, the United States is especially violent when compared to other developed countries.  A Washington Post article titled “11 Essential Facts About Guns and Mass Shootings in the United States” outlined various studies about gun violence and gun control laws and the correlation between the two.  One of these studies found that states with stricter gun control laws tend to have less deaths by gun violence.  Another study found that the Southern region of the U.S., the region with the least strict gun control laws, is the most violent region in the country, with over 7 deaths out of 100,000 by assault.  However, despite all the evidence, there seems to be little that is being done to combat the lack of gun laws in the South.  Most of the states in the South are extremely conservative, and many people are strongly resisting the implementation of such laws.

Last week, Shannon Lamb, a professor at Delta State University in Mississippi, shot and killed both his girlfriend, Amy Prentiss, and his colleague, Ethan Schmidt.  The shooting of Schmidt occurred at Delta State, resulting in a lockdown.  Although Lamb’s motive for the murders are still unknown (as of the writing of this article), his relationship with Prentiss has been described as “rocky,” and Lamb was believed to suffer from addictive behaviors and mood swings.  Such tragedies are unfortunately not uncommon, especially in states where there is little gun control, such as Mississippi. Substance abuse and addiction, as well as mental illnesses should be heavily considered when conducting background checks for gun purchases.  Tragedies such as the Delta State shooting demonstrate a need for more restrictions on the purchases of firearms.

There is also the dilemma of whether or not the Second Amendment should be firmly upheld.  It is important to consider the historical context in which this amendment was written.  The Second Amendment states, “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.”  This was written shortly after the Revolutionary War when there was no organized military.  Instead, there was a militia that consisted of American citizens ready to fight when necessary.

We as a nation have evolved and grown since the 18th century.  We now have an organized military and the days when civilian insurrection was necessary are long gone.  Therefore, the Second Amendment might be a bit outdated, and should be reevaluated.  While some may say that to do so would be unconstitutional, one should keep in mind that the Constitution has been interpreted different ways and amended throughout this nation’s history.  Since gun control is an issue that affects the safety of many Americans, we should amend the Second Amendment in a way that makes  the country a little safer.

Opponents of gun control also claim that taking away guns from law-abiding citizens will not reduce violent crime at all.  This restriction on guns would fail to stop criminals from acquiring them, and would thus leave the “good” gun-owners open to attack without means of defending themselves.  However, there are several problems with this reasoning.  Firstly, how would one distinguish between a “good,” law-abiding citizen that wants a gun for self-defense reasons and a criminal?  Background checks are often required in order to purchase a gun, but given the violent crime statistics, there needs to be more measures taken in order to minimize the amount of people that are victims of gun violence.  Therefore, how does it make sense to keep perpetuating the notion that gun control is essentially useless?

Deaths by gun violence in America are steadily decreasing; however, mass shootings, such as the Charleston and Sandy Hook shootings are still occurring frequently.  There should be measures taken to limit (if not completely eliminate) opportunities for criminals to purchase guns.  This means implementing stricter gun laws, such as more background checks, required lectures on gun safety, or a ban on assault weapons altogether.  Gun violence is an issue that affects the U.S.most out of any other developed country.  The lack of gun control policies that is prevalent in much of the country compromises the safety of too many people.

The Elm

8 thoughts on “Is it Time to Amend America’s Gun Control Policies?

  1. 54% of all shooting deaths are committed by black men under the age of 30. That’s 4% of the population doing 1/2 the killing.

    Everyone of the recent mass shooters were on some type of anti-depressant drug.

    So how about this – people on Anti-depressant drugs should not have access to guns and we something about gang and drug violence. No need to take away people’s rights or get all up in arms – just a nice simple pair of solution.

    By Don in LA Sep 23,2015 @ 10:52 pm

  2. Gun control is not crime control.

    If found using a firearm unlawfully….

    No reduced bail, no plea bargains, no reduced sentences, no early release from prison, and minimum state sentencing laws for crimes committed with a firearm.

    By Joe Potosky Sep 24,2015 @ 7:16 am

  3. You are starting from a incorrect assumption, that America is ‘especially violent’ compared to similar countries.

    In reality, the US has a lower violent crime rate than Canada (~2x) and England (almost 4x).

    When you look at violent crime rates adjusted for population density (the #1 correlating factor), you find the US is well within the middle of the pack of first world countries.

    In fact gun ownership is one of the advantages the US enjoys.

    It’s well documented that violent criminals are far more worried that they will encounter an armed victim than a police officer.

    The US Dept, of Justice tells us that between 800,000 – 1.2 million people in the US use a firearm to stop or avert a criminal attack every year.

    Concealed carry has grown to include all 50 states today, whereas back in the 1980s only 14 states allowed citizens to carry.

    This correlates almost perfectly with the drop in violent crime, and even shows a state-by-state link as each state changed it’s old, repressive laws.

    Far from being a burden, the right to keep and bear arms is a positive force, one whose benefits far outweigh it’s drawbacks.

    By Spencer60000 Sep 24,2015 @ 9:08 am

  4. “We now have an organized military and the days when civilian insurrection was necessary are long gone. Therefore, the Second Amendment might be a bit outdated, and should be reevaluated.”

    Not a chance.

    Your claim is that the government will protect us, but I ask who will protect us from our own government? The Declaration of Independence states that it is our right and our duty to abolish a destructive government. Without guns this will be impossible. Our right to keep and bear arms is the pillar that holds all of our other rights in place.

    By Abraham Collins Sep 24,2015 @ 1:08 pm

  5. ” These opponents often cite the Second Amendment as a core reason as to why guns should be made available to everyone – to limit availability would be unconstitutional.”

    Please cite your source for this statement. It seems you are unfamiliar with the arguments and messages of Gun Rights Supporters. Please do more research before posting unqualified opinions.

    To be clear, I know of no organization that believes that guns should be available to everyone. What most Gun Rights Supporters object to is adopting measures that burden innocent and otherwise qualified gun owners.

    Expanded background checks provide no relief to the risk of mass shootings. A simple research of the matter would demonstrate that background checks have been ineffective in reducing mass shootings as most shooters have passed their checks. What would adding more actually do?

    By d.m. mccarter Sep 24,2015 @ 3:36 pm

  6. I suggest that the author spearhead a national campaign to amend the Constitution by repealing the Second Amendment. Let’s not mince words and simply declare it “antiquated”, after all, the First Amendment was written before radio, television, and even the photocopier were invented.

    Simply announce your campaign to strike the 2nd Article of the Bill of Rights because that particular one strikes you as too dangerous. That way we can know who you are. After all, if it’s really so important, shouldn’t you stand up and be counted?

    By jdberger Sep 24,2015 @ 7:38 pm

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