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The Second's Opinion - December 2017

posted Dec 29, 2017, 4:01 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review
By William Christ '18

Throughout the fall, the sight of mass shootings and similar gun based atrocities occurred so frequently that some American citizens and their politicians called for limitations as to prevent such horrors from happening again. In the months that followed the deadliest mass shooting in American history in Las Vegas in early October, victims of gun violence have been found at a Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas and a California elementary school. Almost immediately after such acts, Democratic politicians called for a vigorous expansion of gun laws while politicians on the right refuse to act because they, like the base, believe that they possess an inherent right to carry firearms.

Using the Second Amendment as the explicit reminder of Americans’ intrinsic right to use firearms, these advocates challenge any legislation that their gun control opponents propose. Noting that the first gun control laws proposed by the American Founders in the early republic mandated that most household be armed, believers in the Second Amendment argue that its purpose is to allow for the defense of the pubic liberties, in case the government acts tyrannically and violates these fundamental rights. Granted that America in 2017 is not acting tyrannical, the Second Amendment is not mooted by the cultural bond it has with politically active hunters and firearm aficionados. Although these enthusiasts engage in lawful activities and vote accordingly, they are often vilified by gun control advocates for “assisting” in mass shootings. Look no further than the statement of the disgraced Harvey Weinstein, who proposed pursuing actions that would eliminate the NRA’s influence from the political process after the Las Vegas shooting.

Despite the outcry condemning Weinstein’s statement, a significant portion of the country still cannot fathom the close bond that their fellow citizens have towards guns and continue to remain isolated from people who “cling to their guns.” Second Amendment skeptics, like like Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), have called for the banning of AR-15, a specific type of semiautomatic assault rifle. A Democratic colleague of the Senator Murphy, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), proposed a bill banning AR-15s in the U.S. Senate days after the deadly shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

While the proposals of these Democratic Senators and other gun control advocates are well intentioned, they are severely misguided because the man who brought the shooting to an end in Texas used an AR-15. If there had been legislation banning the legal acquirement of an AR-15 that man, Stephen Willeford, could not have acted and the shooting could have lasted longer with even deadlier implications. Unlike the densely populated communities with police stations nearby where most gun control advocates reside, the communities reliant on their firearms for self-defense live significant distances away from law enforcement officials. Furthermore, Secret Service officers were able to prevent further injuries to Congressional leaders or House Majority Whip Steve Scalise because they were able to respond rapidly to the shooter at the Congressional Baseball practice. The presence of a deterrent firearm is the best precaution against mass shooting because it allows the rapid response that saves lives.

In the aftermath of the Las Vegas and Sutherland Spring shootings, gun control proponents frequently asserted that firearm laws needed be strengthened because it would then prevent future atrocities from ever occurring again. Such proposals are absurd; they fail to take into account the fact that the people who intend to break the law by murdering people will have no qualms about violating laws in order to obtain guns illegally.

But what of background checks? They are a current requirement for people purchasing guns. However, due an error in the processing stage, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System failed to recognize that the shooter in Sutherland Spring was courtmartialed for domestic abuse because the Air Force failed to submit the records. The extension of background checks usually gains support across the partisan lines so policy proposals aimed at eliminating the inefficiencies between the agencies so that authentic checks could occur would most likely gain bipartisan support. Until recently, Congress has discussed bipartisan support for the elimination of bump stocks.

While Democrats and gun control advocates have been hesitant to respect the wishes of gun owners, they should listen to their voters because their options are going to be a matter of major political significance in eleven months. In a public opinion poll taken after the Sutherland Springs Shooting, Gallup found that only 36% of those surveyed would support legislation banning AR-15. With Democratic Senators representing deep-red states with a heritage of hunting, it would be politically imperative for Senators Tester, McCaskill, Heitkamp, Donnelly, and Manchin to oppose any regulation infringing upon the rights of gun owners. If they refuse, it is safe to assume that a politically coherent class of gun owners would be motivated by the NRA to select a Republican who shares their values. Hopefully these Senators will listen to their constituents, the American people, and the not the more radical members of their own party.