Why Does The Second Amendment Still Exist?

Why Does The Second Amendment Still Exist?

What the Parkland Shooting needs to teach Americans about guns
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This past Wednesday, I walked into a dining hall to be met with the CNN Headline "POLICE ATTEMPTING TO IDENTIFY SHOOTER" blaring from every television.

I hadn't even heard about there being a shooting yet, but our media had already moved on from the initial shock, and weren't even referring to the specifics of the incident. I looked down at my phone, and sure enough, I had several notifications informing me that there had been a school shooting in a Florida high school. 17 people had been killed.

The worst part is, this is becoming the new normal.

Another week, another shooting.

These national tragedy news stories - Columbine, Sandy Hook, Aurora, Orlando, Charleston, Vegas, etc. - don't even crack the surface of the gun violence that occurs in the US every single day. The statistics have been enumerated over and over again, but here are a few striking ones:

When it comes to homicides by firearms, America has over four times as many per million people (29.7) as the next most deadly country, Switzerland (7.7 per million people killed by firearms). (Vox)

Between 1968 and 2011, more people were killed in shooting incidents on American soil than in any war fought by this country since its inception (BBC). And I don't think anyone is under the impression that we have a peaceful history.

On average, 96 Americans are killed with guns in a single day. (CDC)

96. Let that sink in for a second.

Think about all the suicides, the gang-related shootings, the kids who accidentally set off the family gun, the police shootings, the domestic violence-related murders that we never even hear about. 96 people per day is an overwhelming number. These deaths happen so often that it's impossible to cover them all in national news.

This is a problem of epidemic proportions, and it's because guns are embedded into American culture so deeply, that the idea of even minorly strengthening gun control laws sends lawmakers and citizens alike into a frenzy.

The basis of this gun culture is written into our Constitution, in the Second Amendment:

"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."

Throughout American History, this Amendment has been contested and upheld numerous times. One of the first of which, in 1822, overturned a fine that had been placed on a man for carrying a sword encased in a cane, thus solidifying the idea that people have an "individual right" to bear arms. Later in the 19th century, it was decided that former slaves would have the right to own a gun, in order to become fully realized American citizens.

In the 20th century, starting in the 30s, some restrictions were put on gun ownership. One had to have a license to sell or purchase guns, and certain people, including felons, were restricted from owning guns. Later on, restrictions were placed on the ownership of semiautomatic weapons.

Each restriction placed was seen as necessary for the time it was placed; the 30's restrictions were a reaction to increased gang violence, updated restrictions in the 60's were a reaction to Kennedy's assassination, the Assault weapons ban in the 90's was a reaction to the attempted assassination of Reagan, as well as dangerous new weaponry technology that legislators agreed should be kept out of the hands of the masses.

Today, however, the idea that someone shouldn't be able to purchase a military-grade weapon at a gun show without any kind of license is offensive to a major part of the country. And people with this viewpoint are largely in currently in control of our government.

The Trump administration's official view on gun rights is that "the Second Amendment is America’s first freedom....because the Right to Keep and Bear Arms protects all our other rights."

The administration's statement considers the Second Amendment to be nearly a prophetic text. Like many Americans, our government believes that the right to own a gun is so fundamental to our democracy that we should ignore the kind of people who take advantage of this right.

It is impossible to talk about the issue of gun violence in America without seeing it as tied to extremism, specifically white supremacy.

The perpetrator of the attack, Nikolas Cruz, is suspected of having ties with a white nationalist group that wants to turn Florida into a white ethno-state. Though there has been conflicting information, it is clear that Cruz posted several inflammatory comments online aimed at minorities, displaying similar racist proclivities to the Columbine and Orlando shooters, demonstrating a disturbing pattern. These are the kind of people that are able to easily acquire weapons, and aren't afraid to use them.

The group that claimed Cruz as a member, Republic of Florida, believes that "civil war is a very real possibility in the next two years." A spokesman from the organization described this possibility as “an open, violent clash involving guns and people stabbing and killing each other."

Even if Cruz is not a member of this group, it is undeniable that groups like this have a rapidly increasing influence on American political life. Apart from incidents like Charlottesville that highlight this, the number of hate groups in America is up 17% since 2014.

And many of these groups seek to take advantage of the Second Amendment right that politicians on both sides often ignore: the right to "a well regulated militia."

To use the Republic of Florida as an example, members of this hate group must pledge that they are "willing to wage battle" in order to defend the group's ideals, according to their website.

Groups like this want to bring America back to the time when the Second Amendment was drafted; back when militias were used to liberate white Americans from the British, while keeping slaves in chains. The modern day militia movement isn't that far off from the Founding Fathers in the sense that they uphold the view that their freedoms are ultimately what matter.

The liberation of some, while others suffer.

This is what America is based off of, as uncomfortable as it is to confront. When seen in this light, is it all that surprising that lawmakers choose the "freedom" to arm oneself over those 96 lives lost everyday?

We are a fundamentally violent country, in ways that extend far beyond the militia movement. And we're becoming more violent. An article in The New Yorker explains the psychology behind why school shootings and similar incidents seem to be becoming more and more frequent: perpetrators of these shootings see themselves as a part of a larger movement. The article likens school shootings to a slow motion riot, in that members of this "movement" are able to abandon their morals with more ease as others join in. In short, copycat crimes happen because with each crime, the group of criminals becomes larger, and it is easier to become part of this group.

This "group," which many members see as spiritually led by Eric Harris of the Colombine shooting, can in some ways be likened to a militia. It is a movement of disenfranchised white men who commit violent acts because they have sworn allegiance to something larger than themselves.

In reality, gun rights have never been about individuals, as much as politicians and the NRA make out of the "individual right" to own a gun.

Since the inception of our country, guns have always been used and abused by groups, by movements. You can't support the Second Amendment without acknowledging the nature of these groups.

Tomorrow, we could all wake up in the morning to another national tragedy that's already half a news cycle old, and our government still wouldn't do anything about it. By the time this article is published, hundreds of more people will have died preventable deaths because of the idolization of the Second Amendment.

We can't let this continue.

This is a piece of legislation that belongs in the past with the men that wrote it.

Cover Image Credit: Lala Photography

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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Irish-American History Is Just As Important As Any Other Culture, You Can't Prove Me Wrong

I cherish being Irish and I will not let anyone let me feel bad for that.

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Depending on when you're reading this, Saint Patrick's day has either just passed or is around the corner. For me, Saint Patrick's day is tomorrow. I've been debating this article for some time now because I didn't know how it would be perceived. At this point, though, I feel it's important for me to get out. No, Irish people were never kept as slaves in America, and I will never be one to try and say they were. However, Irish people were treated tremendously awful in America. A lot of people tend to forget, or just try to erase entirely, the history of the Irish in America. So much so that I felt shameful for wanting to celebrate my heritage. Therefore, I want to bring to light the history that everyone brushes under the rug.

In 1845, a potato famine broke out across Ireland. This was a big deal because the Irish lived off, mainly, potatoes. They were cheap, easy to grow, and had tons of nutrients. So when the famine struck, many people either died of starvation or fled to America in seek of refuge. When the Irish arrived in America they were seen as a threat to the decency of America. People viewed them as drunk beasts, sinful savages, barbaric, violent, belligerent, stupid, and white apes. When the Irish would go to look for jobs, many times they found signs that read "Irish Need Not Apply," even when the job was hiring. Therefore, the Irish did the jobs no one wanted, and even jobs African slaves wouldn't do. The biggest example of this is when Irishmen built canals and drained swamps. They were sent to do these things because of the enormous amount of mosquitoes; in the swamp, they would get bit and ultimately die of malaria.

Also, during this time, Irish people were poor and therefore lived in the same neighborhoods as the free African Americans. A lot of the Irish people were friendly with their neighbors of color and even got into interracial relationships. Because the Irish lived in these neighborhoods they were seen as dirty and even a lot of people at this time put African Americans higher on the totem pole than Irish. One person during the time even said, "At least the black families keep their homes clean."

The main reason American's outlook on Irish people changed was that most Irishmen took up fighting for the Union in the Civil War. I make this argument, not because I think the Irish suffered more than African slaves. I don't say this in means of trying to erase the struggles of the African slaves. I do not think that any of our ancestors should have been treated the way they were. I mean to say that the Irish did in fact suffer. Irish people were treated wrongly on the basis of...nothing. Simply because my ancestors hailed from the shores of Eire, they were treated with malice. And I write this simply because I want people to remember. I want people to understand what happened.

On Saint Patrick's Day this year, next year, and for the many years to come, I want people to embrace the Irish culture. I want the folks of Irish heritage to not be ashamed of where they come from; to not be ashamed to share their culture the way I have for many years. I want everyone to have a beer, wear some green, eat a potato or two, and dance the Irish step; to celebrate the history of Irish people with a bit more understanding than before.

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