Gun Control: Round n

NRAWayne LaPierre is at it again. After the recent shooting at the Navy Yard, he cited inadequate security at the compound as the problem. This is similar to his call for armed guards in every school after the Newton shooting. LaPierre also pointed out that the shooter was reported to have heard voices, and was paranoid, according to a police report filed a few weeks earlier. But, he didn’t mention that the gunman legally bought a shotgun in Virginia while having two previous gun-related arrests in Washington. LaPierre and the NRA, however, still promote unimpeded access to guns.

The NRA is wrong to oppose further gun control. Wayne LaPierre claims that new gun laws will create a registry of gun owners, and that the government will use it to take people’s guns away. No proposed legislation has included any such registry. In fact, the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1996 strictly prohibits the creation of a gun registry. The NRA is trying to get people riled up in order to persuade lawmakers that America doesn’t want more gun regulations when, in reality, polls indicate that most Americans support expanded background checks.

One thing that many people do oppose, however, is a ban on assault rifles. I support the right of people to own a firearm for the purpose of hunting. However, when has someone needed a fully automatic assault rifle to kill a deer?

The original purpose of the Second Amendment was to insure that the government is not the sole owner of firearms in America. People who support keeping assault weapons legal believe that they need an automatic weapon to protect themselves. However, if people have the right to an assault rifle, where does an individual’s right to weaponry end? Does the Second Amendment give us the right to own a mortar launcher? The government has those, so why can’t I have one? Do you need a mortar launcher? No, you don’t need a mortar launcher.

Mortar launchers are likely to be used aggressively, rather than for self-defense. If individuals had mortar launchers, they could level buildings and everyone inside. The constant fear of attack would destabilize society: Everyone would worry so much about his or her safety that life could not continue normally.

The Second Amendment was written when muskets were the most advanced guns. Muskets fire two to three rounds per minute, and are woefully inaccurate. Assault rifles can fire 45-60 rounds per minute, and are very accurate. The Second Amendment was never intended to allow weapons such as mortar launchers and assault rifles into civilian hands. The writers of the Bill of Rights never could have imagined the destruction that a single person could inflict with a single gun.

We need better gun control. Too many mass shootings in America have occurred because mentally unstable individuals have easy access to automatic weapons. People don’t need assault rifles. Having easy access to these weapons not only destabilizes society, but also contributes to an even more violent culture. Stronger gun regulations alone, however, will not stop mass shootings. The NRA does have a point. Gun owners with criminal records are not responsible for mass shootings. Mentally unstable individuals have caused most mass shootings in America in recent history: Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Newtown, and Aurora, and now the Navy Yard. American culture has made mental illness taboo. Very few people are willing to talk about it. Our mental health system isn’t functioning well enough. We need to better identify people with mental illness and provide treatment. American culture needs to change. We need to think of mental illness as treatable, rather than ignoring it. We already know what happens when our society ignores the mentally ill.

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