Knives, Guns, Forks: All Equally As Dangerous?

Knives, Guns, Forks: All Equally As Dangerous?

How many everyday items do you view as a weapon?

In 1791, the United States ratified the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. 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.” In simpler terms, the Second Amendment states that Americans have the right to bear arms. This amendment was passed 315 years ago, but yet it is still highly debated today. With recent mass shootings across the country, gun control and the right to bear arms have become a topic of controversy across the country. Many people believe that gun control needs to be stricter and more regulated, but I believe that there should not be stricter gun control in America.

A gun is defined as, “a weapon incorporating a metal tube from which bullets, shells or other missiles are propelled by explosive force, typically making a characteristic loud, sharp noise.” No where in that definition does it say that a gun is something that kills people, because a gun doesn’t kill, the person behind the gun kills. Any weapon, such as a knife, missile or even a fork, could be used to kill someone, but that is not the sole purpose of the weapon. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to kill someone with my fork when I’m eating my dinner, that just sounds ridiculous. Yes, actually, that is ridiculous, but that is my point, the fork alone doesn’t kill, the person who is behind the fork kills, just like the person behind the gun kills.

Sure, not everyone should be entitled to the use of a gun, but that doesn’t mean that we need to limit the use and regulations of gun. It is a Constitutional right to possess a gun, and as stated, it shouldn’t be infringed upon. Most people in possession of a gun have it for protection, hunting and recreation, or because their job entitles them to have a firearm. These people aren’t carrying guns with the purpose of shooting up a school, killing random people on the street or shooting police officers.

If you were a woman who was assaulted on her way home from work one night, you may be feel the need to protect yourself by carrying a gun. Does that mean that you want to kill every man in sight? It certainly doesn’t, it means that you are first and foremost exercising your right to carry that gun, and it means you are protecting yourself. Carrying that gun may just save your life the next time you were to get attacked, but not carrying that gun because of an infringement on your Second Amendment right, well, that may have just cost you your life.

Likewise, we would never think to take a gun away from a police officer. Police officers come face to face with weapons, and violence quite frequently so of course we would never strip them off a weapon that can potentially save their life. We also would never strip our military of their guns, because they are fighting for our country and keeping the enemy away. If we wouldn’t strip these individuals of their access to a gun, why should we restrict any individuals right to gun access? To answer that question simply, we shouldn’t.

Whether someone be a wanted felon or an older lady on the street, they should be at least given the right to possess a gun under their Constitutional right. A criminal is going to break a law or commit a crime whether he or she has access to a gun or not. Just because a criminal doesn’t have a gun, doesn’t mean they won’t find a knife, or a bomb or some other kind of weapon. There are more deadly weapons than just a gun for a criminal, or anyone to get access to. As a matter of fact, everyone has access to a deadly weapon, just by having a knife in the kitchen. Now no one is going to think to limit access and set strict regulations on having kitchen knives in a house, and it should be no different with a gun. A homicide can occur from a steak knife stabbing; a homicide can occur with basically any object that is sharp or can exhibit force. So, even without a gun in access a deadly crime can still occur. A criminal is still going to be a criminal with or without a gun, and there shouldn’t be limitations on gun access because of that reason alone!

However, I know that that isn’t going to get my point across enough, so let me start with addressing mass shootings that have come into light in today’s society. Many of these shootings have had shooters that have psychological or mental illnesses. The gun itself wasn’t the reason there was a shooting — there was a shooting because the person behind the gun wasn’t given the help they needed. What the government needs to be focusing on is getting people with mental illness the help they need. If the government stopped focusing on restricting the right to bear arms, they would be able to focus on getting those in need the help they need. When a person is given the help they need, a deadly gun crime would never be in the question, because they wouldn’t have the idea or the motive to shoot and kill. The war on guns should be a war on what the underlying factor of mass shootings is…mental illness.

Everyone can remember the mass shooting that occurred at an elementary school in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. The cause of this shooting was the mental illness that the shooter had. Innocent lives were lost in this shooting, but they weren’t lost because of a gun — the gun didn’t pull its own trigger — they were lost because the shooter had an untreated mental illness. If the government focused on more efficient mental health counselors and provided more funding for mental health programs, then a significant amount of mass shootings may not have occurred because these shooters would be getting help, and not planning how to kill. More restrictive gun laws would not stop mass shootings, and they will not cure the people with mental illnesses either.

Taking a look at other countries who have limited gun rights are also proof that reducing gun rights do not reduce the rate of violence, crime or shootings. Russia, for example has extremely strict regulations on owning a firearm and had a period of time when they were even banned, but yet they have a higher rate of homicide than the United States. In Russia there were about 21,000 homicides, and in the United States there were about 13,000 in a given year. Russia’s rate is almost twice that of the United States, and they have far less guns and gun access. The homicide rate, as well as the crime rate in the United States, is actually decreased from the past 10 years, and guns haven’t been restricted. With that being said, if crime rates are reducing and guns aren’t restricted, why restrict them now?

So, now that I have you thinking let me also point out the fact that right now under the Second Amendment guns are legal. Each state is allowed to regulate their limits to the Second Amendment, such as age and their policy on concealed carry, etc., but guns are legal. Now what happens when we make gun control stricter, and we start restricting people’s rights to own arms?

We can set all the restrictions we want but that isn’t going to solve the problem, guns are still going to be brought in illegally, and they are still going to be used. When a policy is changed after hundreds of years, people don’t take it lightly, and end up finding loopholes anyway. Look back at Prohibition — the government tried to place restrictions on alcohol for various reasons, but yet people still consumed alcohol, they just found the loopholes in the law. It would end up being the same thing with guns. Why waste all the time, resources and energy over a policy that would be corrupt in the eyes of millions of citizens? There are more important policies that need change and regulation than gun control.

There are already enough regulations set on guns in the United States. There are background checks and logs that have to be obtained when obtaining a gun. In New York, you are required to take a safety course and have a permit for the different types of guns that are sold in New York State. The gun regulations in the country are restricted enough, and more restriction is not needed. Not to mention, restrictions on hunting and game place restrictions on guns themselves.

In most states, you have to obtain a hunting license, and that license entitles you to be able to shoot, but aren’t you technically allowed to shoot with the Second Amendment right to bear arms? Going back hundreds of years ago, hunting was a prime source for food and survival. If we limit and restrict guns even more than they already are, we are also restricting hunting. Hunting is seen as a recreational activity, and even a sport in some regions. Hunting provided our ancestors with food and survival, and ultimately built many countries, why should we have to lose hunting because of a restriction on gun control?

At the end of the day, everyone is going to have their opinion on gun control, but my view stands strong, and I am against gun control. Guns keep millions of Americans safe every day. Our police force and military keep us safe daily, and their lives are protected and ensured by the right to access guns. We wouldn’t take away their access to guns, and we shouldn’t take away the rights to gun access to others either, especially not when they are being carried for protection more than anything. The right to bear arms is a Second Amendment right, and it should be upheld. Guns are not what kill, people are what kill. A gun is nothing more than an object.

Guns are controlled and regulated enough in America, and there is no need for them to be restricted even more. Even with restrictions, people are going to find loopholes in the policy and guns will be present in the country still. A criminal is a criminal with or without a gun, and a homicide can occur with any weapon, or any object for that matter, not just a gun. The government should be more concerned with the underlying factors of shootings, such as mental illness, and less concerned with restricting guns. The right to bear arms is a Constitutional right in this country, and I stand behind it!

Cover Image Credit: PhotoPin

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Fighting For Gun Control Is More Than Just A Fight To Restrict Weapons

The decision for restriction affects all of us, whether or not we own a gun.

First things first— the fight for gun control isn't about guns. It's about being able to feel protected and fight for our equality.

The recent Parkland shooting that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School was only another mass shooting that has brought up the topic of gun control, an event that only followed the Las Vegas shooting on a country music festival, the Texas Church shooting, the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport shooting, the Lincoln Country shooting spree in Mississippi, the Maryland High School shooting and 427 other mass shootings — all taking place only in 2017.

If that's not already a reason for concern, within the first three months of 2018, we've had 68 mass shootings, and almost all could've been prevented through gun legislation and background checks. The problem with trying to advocate for reform is that someone has to be on the receiving end to hear, but the more the urgency to find a solution is revealed to us, the more we are suffocated and left unheard.

Mass shootings themselves are a symptom of America's brokenness, for having such internal conflict and no solution for it. We look at mass shootings and react by doing nothing, letting the problem remain very alive and the magnitude of it grow exponentially, such as in the Flint's water crisis (which still hasn't been fixed, in case you're wondering).

Thus, beginning America's use of exercising one clause in the First Amendment: our right to petition and gather. Walkouts are organized, protests are planned and more and more demonstrations are planned to gain the attention of Congress and the government to fix this growing issue. We try to promote gun legislation as a "now problem," a "yesterday problem," not a "later" problem, but one that's going to continue to grow and fester until it will be too big to do anything to stop it.

Solutions to the gun crisis shouldn't just be up to Congress. They should be addressed and debated by our nation as what is important to us as a country. Where do we stop and draw our boundaries? Is it more important to deal with our "now" problems: poverty, unemployment, racism or draw our attention to our "later" problems, which include stopping future mass shooters?

In other terms, if given the choice, would you improve a life or save one?

In theory, the entire issue can be easily solved: simply impose stricter protocols and restrictions on who can obtain and purchase firearms so that potential shooters either can't (or at least face great difficulty with) acquiring a firearm.

However, there's the conservative perspective: the issue isn't in guns at all, therefore we shouldn't restrict them, and if we do restrict, it infringes on our right to bear arms constitutionally deemed in the Second Amendment, or the right to hold weapons for our own defense. Liberals who believe the Second Amendment should hold exclusions feel that a prohibition should be made for weapons with warfare capabilities and restrictions should be imposed on smaller firearms.

Quite honestly, I don't believe entirely in either — no solution is completely correct.

The conservatives argue that the issue isn't about guns, and with that statement I completely agree. Guns can't kill people, people kill people using guns, but the gun didn't nor could make the decision to fire the bullet — that decision was made entirely by whoever's finger is on the trigger. However, I disagree that because the issue isn't about guns, we shouldn't restrict them as a result or allow such easy access to such dangerous weapons throughout the consumer market.

Similarly, I don't believe that banning warfare weapons and restricting smaller firearms will change anything. A gun is a gun, and all guns were designed and intended to kill. Whether or not it is an AK-12 or a handgun bought from a local Walmart doesn't matter. At the end of the day, it doesn't change the fact that a life has been taken — restriction or no restriction.

Instead, the problem lies in who we are as a nation, and who we are becoming.

We're given two possibilities as a result: either a nation completely without gun, or a nation so full with them that the likelihood for a mass shooting to occur is almost impossible, because everyone will supposedly then be able protect and defend themselves.

In both scenarios, we are dramatically changing who we are as a nation — either by abusing our right to bear arms or mass infringement by denying our Second Amendment, American rights. In all likelihood, both scenarios would most likely lead to more protests and internal conflict, a more broken America and a greater standstill in government.

Already, we are seeing the latter scenario take place by the arming of teachers within the school system to protect their students from another shooting event. Already, we are experiencing massive backlash and disagreement by the people and government. Just recently in high schools, we have witnessed walkouts over Trump’s election, over deportation, in support of striking teachers’ unions, against police violence, calling for justice for Trayvon Martin who died from a racial targeted shooting and nationally organized walkouts from inaction after Parkland.

Already, we are breaking America. Is this our future? Fighting to feel safe? Fighting to be equal? Is this our story?

Year after year, the record for casualties in a mass shooting have been broken; the body count of those lost to the same issue has increased tenfold, yet we're walking backward rather than forward on advancing to find a solution.

How is it that 12 high-powered rifles designed for war could be acquired and modified to be able to unleash nine rounds per second on a crowd of civilians in Las Vegas and not be stopped?

How is it that tips were made months before Parkland, warning police and the FBI of a YouTube user under "nickolas cruz" who posted death threats and comments proclaiming that he wanted to become a school shooter and not be stopped?

How is it that we have seen and sent our apologies to over six hundred shootings last year, plus the almost seventy shootings this year already, and not realize we need to move from our resolution standstill?

Already we have moved as a nation, through movements such as #NeverAgain and #ArmMeWith, started by teachers on Twitter who listed items they needed other than guns in their classrooms, such as more counselors to help the children, more teachers to decrease classroom size and overall funding towards the education system rather than towards buying weaponry for them. Our achievements as a society should be noticed it is now time for the government to act in response, creating that nation where we can finally believe that we are equal and feel we are safe.

Cover Image Credit: Twitter/ ResistanceSquad

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Republicans Turn Into Reactionaries

How the right turned from conservatism finest to reactionary lapdogs

Traditionally in America, we consider politics split long a dichotomy right vs. left, Republicans vs. Democrats, and liberal vs. conservative. The first two remain as true today as they were since the founding of the Republican Party but recent events have changed the third point. Today's divide is not between liberals and conservatives but between liberals and reactionaries.

Now outside of a political science seminar, the word reactionary seldom comes up in polite conversation though it is a useful word to know. For many of those who do use the term it is applied simply as a more extreme form of conservatism, however, I believe that it is something more than that. To understand what a reactionary is it's important first to understand how reactionaries are similar to conservatives and how they differ.

The political project of conservatism is essential to conserve society the way it is currently. They seek to cry stop to the march of time and maintain the status quo against all challenges or upsets either because they are satisfied with the present arrangements or they are skeptical of any project of improvement. Generally, it’s some combination of the two along with a certain narrow focus on what is immediate and intimate to their life. Conservatives look toward history fondly but they are conscious that the past is not perfect and is in many respects deeply flawed.

Reactionaries are different. They are not satisfied merely with stopping time, oh no they wish to reverse it and go back. Reactionaries are obsessed with the past, but not the past as you would conventionally recognize it. History for them is divided into two; heroic golden ages where everything is pure and good and virtuous and all the world is set right, contrasted to eras of depravity and evil that destroy these bright lights and cast the world into chaos and darkness none more so than our present era.

American reactionaries have created three of these golden eras in American history and by different metrics see the present as a fall from grace from all of them. The first of these eras concerns the founding and sees the founders as pious men who wrote the constitution a divinely inspired document guaranteeing broad sovereignty to individuals and impervious to any future meddling.

The second is the civil war where virtuous southern gentleman fought for the rights of their states against a tyrannical federal government seeking to upend the natural order of the world both socially and racially. The third is the 1950’s where men served as stoic breadwinners supporting their families in factory jobs as women worked in the home while minorities knew their place in the social order and everyone was happy and optimistic about the future.

This version of history is an admittedly beautiful thing to look at until you realize that it is entirely based on the most pernicious of lies. The most sickening thing, however, is just how easy it is to disprove those lies the founder’s deist beliefs and desire to restrain individual liberties are well known, the importance of slavery to the southern cause has countless lines of ink devoted to it by the very men fighting for it, and the overwhelming sense of alienation and resentment practically drips off every piece of culture produced in the 50’s from Goofy cartoons to The Catcher In the Rye.

Despite how easy any of their beliefs are to disprove they still cling to them with all the fervor of a fanatic and it’s tearing our country apart. Their inflexibility to adapt the constitution to the modern world has left our courts enslaved to the phony doctrine of original intent and leaves our legal system unable to provide guidance to a rapidly changing world. Their embrace of the lost cause mythos leaves our educational system polluted by lies and renders millions of our citizens condemned to poverty and suffering because we cannot address the wrongs we’ve done them.

And lastly, their blind embrace of an economy they do not fully understand has to lead to a gutting of our government and growing cruelty of our economy as people are fed into the machine in a vain attempt to bring back prosperity. But perhaps the worst part of these lies is the blood they cost the hundreds of children sacrificed for one amendment, the thousands of lives ground to dust by the carceral system because their skin is the wrong color, and the millions decayed by an economy that values cold hard cash over warm soft bodies.

If there is one political party that seems to fit this image more than the other it’s because the reactionary disease has only consumed one. The Republicans used to be a grand and noble institution contributing many important achievements to American politics but the desire for power and fears of the world around them won out and lead them to invite the reactionaries in, now the inmates are running the asylum.

Trump is now the most visible symbol of this transition and his every word and deed oozes with reactionary malice and spite. What could “make America Great Again” be but a call to arms for reactionaries across the country and call them it did along with their Russian comrades.

The only way to defeat these reactionaries and to ensure they do not destroy all of us in their vain attempt to relive history is for liberals and traditional conservatives to come together for this brief moment against a common foe. The first step in accomplishing this lies in recognizing this problem and calling it what it is. Only by identifying reactionaries and labeling them as such can we being the work of defeating them.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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