“They Don’t Care About Us”: Right to Life vs. Right to Guns

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“They Don’t Care About Us”: Right to Life vs. Right to Guns

Madison Casteele, Author

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Gun control is a heavily debated topic in our society right now, and some people are alarmed at how desensitized the American government has become to the mass shootings occurring almost every week.

In the United States, there are an estimated 120.5 firearms per 100 people. Our population is roughly 328.3 million people, but we have an estimated 393,000,000 guns in circulation. In comparison, India has a population of 1,363,787,500, and has 71,101,000 guns in circulation.

In India, guns are strictly regulated by law. To purchase a gun in India, there are specific steps you have to take. First, you have to join a shooting club or show that you or your property are under threat. Then you have to attend a practical training course on firearm handling and shooting.[1] You have to obtain a certificate of physical and mental health from a doctor. Then, you have to affirm you have a safe place to store the firearms. You need to pass a review that considers three years of tax returns, criminal history, mental health history, and domestic violence that includes interviews with you, your family, and your neighbors. Only then can you buy a gun.[2]

In the United States, all you have to do is pass an instant background check that considers criminal convictions, domestic violence, and immigration status. Then you can buy a gun.[3]

In the US, federal law requires someone to be at least 21 to buy a handgun, but only 18 to buy a long gun. In some rural states with a strong hunting tradition, you can buy a rifle at the age of 14 or 16.

While there are federal laws regarding guns, they are poorly enforced. The system relies on people properly reporting to the right database, whether that be the FBI, local police, or other places of authority.

In West Virginia, there are basically no gun laws restricting anything. No permits are required, no background checks are required, and open carry is permitted. The population of West Virginia is 1.7 million.

New York is one of the most regulated states. A carry permit and purchase permit is required for handguns, and it’s illegal to possess an unregistered handgun. There, however, aren’t many restrictions on long guns. The population of New York is 19.8 million.

One of the most popular arguments against gun control is how it “violates” the second amendment.

The second amendment states that “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.”

In the past, many rulings have stated that the amendment protects states rights, NOT individual rights, to maintain militias.

However, a DC court’s decision[4] reflects an emerging scholarly consensus that the Second Amendment guarantees individuals rights to keep and bear arms.

In an article posted by the Chicago Tribune titled “What Liberals miss About the Second Amendment,” Steven Lubet says, “both sides read the same Bill of Rights, of course, but they tend to emphasize different provisions. Liberals, for example, make a priority of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, which guarantee accused suspects the right to remain silent and the appointment of counsel when facing prosecution.”

But what I really think people are missing in the Constitution and even in the Bill of Rights, before the second amendment, is the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The right to life is even included in the Fifth amendment, but often overlooked by both sides.

Recently, it seems people are starting to question when guns started to matter more than the lives of children. Recently, I’ve wondered the same thing, as well as my classmates.

On November 1st, 1991 a gunman killed 5 people at the University of Iowa. Nothing changed.

On April 20th, 1999 two gunmen killed 13 people at Columbine High School. Nothing changed.

On March 21st, 2005 a gunman killed 9 people. First his grandfather and grandfather’s companion at their home, then 7 others at Red Lake Senior High. Nothing changed.

On October 2nd, 2006 a 32-year-old truck driver killed 5 Amish girls in an Amish school in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. Nothing changed.

On April 16th, 2007 a gunman killed 32 students and staff in two separate attacks at Virginia Tech. Nothing changed.

On February 14th, 2008 a gunman killed 5 people at Northern Illinois University. Nothing changed.

On December 14th, 2012 a gunman killed his mother in his home and killed 20 first-grade students aged six and seven and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary.  Nothing changed.

On June 7th, 2013 a gunman killed 5 people total at his house and a local college campus. Nothing changed

On October 1st, 2015 a gunman killed 9 students and staff at Umpqua Community College. Nothing changed.

On February 14th, 2018 a gunman killed 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. Nothing changed.

Australia had a mass shooting in 1996 that killed 35 people with a semi-automatic. Weeks later, the country started enacting gun control laws. There hasn’t been a mass shooting since.

I have no problem with hunting, and I have no problem with wanting a handgun for self defense. But why does anyone, aside from military or police personnel, need a military-style weapon? We are giving the same weapons to citizens that are used in wars, except at least the military recognizes that you shouldn’t have a gun if you’re mentally ill. Maybe someday our lawmakers will realize that too. But until then, I’ll remain fearful for my children and the generations to come.

[1] This step depends on how local officers want to enforce the law.

[2] The Indian authorities may take guns temporarily during elections to ensure that the vote is peaceful. Guns must be returned one week after results are announced.

[3] Many states have additional restrictions including waiting periods and expanded background checks. Roughly a third of American gun owners buy guns without a background check, which federal law does not require.

[4] In March, the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned a 30- year old law that forbids almost all DC residents from owning handguns. The law was challenged by six Washington, DC, residents who said they wanted to keep guns in their homes to protect themselves against crime.