America is notoriously known for their struggle over gun control. With an amendment that states that citizens are able to “keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” citizens of America have gone over the line of using these weapons as a way to “protect themselves.” However, this need to carry a firearm has caused great harm as many seek to amend the Second Amendment or dismantle it entirely, and thus create a safer America for all.
Over the last decade, America has experienced a rising number of fatalities regarding firearms. John Paul Stevens, a former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, addresses the controversial ideology in “The Five Extra Words That Can Fix the Second Amendment,” of whether or not it’s worth the need for protection when risking the safety of innocents; “Each year, more than 30,000 people die in the United States in firearm-related incidents. Many of those deaths involve handguns”(Stevens). Stevens brings about the common argument of whether one's freedom is more important than the greater society’s public safety. Handguns are easily obtained by simply applying online and then waiting a period of 1-3 months, and with this accessibility, it allows more firearm-related incidents to occur. Often times these tragedies occur within the home as “89% of accidental shooting deaths among children occur in the home and that most of these deaths occur when children are playing with an unsecured loaded gun in their parents’ absence” (“Statistics on Guns in the Home & Safe Storage”). Had the parents of these children taken into consideration that their children’s safety was in jeopardy by simply having a gun in the house, these incidents would have a less probability of occurring.
Although guns are often associated with death, these weapons can still be beneficial to have handy. Suzanna Hupp’s experience as a victim of a mass shooting helps curb thoughts of banning citizens from the security of their guns. Gun-rights advocate Hupp:
...tells the story about a horrendous mass shooting in Killeen, Texas, that she witnessed in 1991 in which twenty-three people were murdered, including her parents. Even though it was illegal at the time to carry a gun, she often did… except on this day. “Having a gun is never a guarantee,” she says. “But it changes the odds” (Atwan 244).
If Hupp had a gun that day it is not particularly certain whether that day would have had the same outcome as it did. The incentive that even if one of the twenty-three may have been alive today helps support the fact that guns should not be banned outright because, by doing so, it conflicts with the law-abiding citizen’s rights for security that is written in the amendments by the forefathers.
Even if Hupp had her handgun on her, the situation could have ended up the same or with additional casualties. Thus this brings about the question of whether or not the Second Amendment should be amended and to what extent. If the people were to demand for this Amendment to be changed, this would go through the course of the legislators. These legislators have seen the bloodshed that occurred in the presence of guns, yet these political leaders have not made enough of a significant change to the gun laws that have helped the states have less gun related incidents. Stevens has written that change can be made, however, it is up to the morals of those who hold power in the government, “It is those legislators, rather than federal judges, who should make the decisions that will determine what kinds of firearms should be available to private citizens, and when and how they may be used” (Stevens). Whereas The New York Times Editorial Board wrote, “America’s elected leaders offer prayers for gun victims and then, callously and without fear of consequence, reject the most basic restrictions on weapons of mass killing,”(Atwan 248). Although one can place all the blame on politicians, it is the American people who vote for them, and by voting, the government and the citizens create an bystander effect by watching on the sidelines as their fellow people are massacred because of the laxation and often misinterpretation of gun laws. Therefore these misinterpretations allow citizens to believe they are above the law, since it is considered their “right” to bear arms, thus fire at will and cause casualties. If legislators were to take the much needed time to reform this amendment there would be less excuses as to why one person were to harm another due to the clarification of the Second Amendment and gun laws.
Notwithstanding, having the ability to carry arms in the open is a scary idea, but real and true. Campus shootings in recent years have made students and faculty nervous as they push for the ability to carry their own weapons to protect themselves. However, John A. Fry, the president of Philadelphia’s Drexel University opposed such a policy. Fry explained in “Allowing Guns Won’t Make Campus Safer,” that allowing guns on campus wouldn’t keep the students safe, but would more than likely jeopardize their safety as there would be more concealed weapons unbeknown to the population. Fry questions as to why only in America people would respond to gun violence by using more guns, “Arming college campuses will do little to reduce mass attacks, and will likely lead to more shooting deaths. There are already 300 million civilian firearms in the United States. That’s more than one for every adult” (Atwan 225). Is it right to risk the safety of others for the paranoia of oneself? Although, guns may seem as the safer option it can still cause mass casualties, such as the recent Las Vegas massacre, Mandalay Bay Shooting. The shooter Steven Paddock was a resident of Nevada, which allows concealed carry (Hensley and Silverstein). If the state had restrictions against guns, the fifty people and hundreds injured would not have been injured. If someone attending the music festival had taken action by shooting in the air to stop Paddock, who was shooting from above, they could have caused more harm than good as they would not know where Paddock was located at the time.
The need to carry arms, as granted by the Second Amendment, can cause not only harm to one’s self, but others as well. The mere suggestion that there should be a laxation upon gun laws should be abolished, as evidence shows the current “strict” gun laws have not caused great effect for the people of America. There needs to be change in this amendment to provide safety for all Americans.
Atwan, Robert, Valerie Duff-Strautmann, and Greg Atwan. America Now: Short Readings from Recent Periodicals. Bedford/St. Martin's, 2017. Print.
“Gun Violence Archive.” Gun Violence Archive. 2017. Web.
Hensley, Nicole, and Jason Silverstein. “Mass Shooting at Mandalay Bay Concert in Las Vegas Kills 50.” NY Daily News, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, 2017. 2 Oct. 2017. Web.
"Statistics on Guns in the Home & Safe Storage." Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Web.
Stevens, John Paul. "The Five Extra Words That Can Fix the Second Amendment." The Washington Post. WP Company, 11 Apr. 2014. Web.