Gunning for trouble: Firearm laws should be priority

By Katie Grovatt, Reporter

On a cold December day, our nation gave up 26 treasured souls essential to the fabric of our country. That winter day in Newtown, Conn., a thief robbed America of a large stash of jewels, and hearts mourned for their riches.

Following the second deadliest mass shooting in the United States history on Dec. 14, 2012, leaders, politicians and citizens rushed to propose solutions.

“I hope and trust that in the next session of Congress there will be sustained and thoughtful debate about America’s gun culture and our responsibility to prevent more loss of life,” California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said that day.

It has been three years since the Newtown tragedy. In those three years, the United States has lowered their flags too many times for mass shootings. The fight to lower gun violence has not only reached a ceasefire, but it has been brutally combated.

In this year alone, our country has witnessed shooting after shooting and been in an almost constant state of mourning. On June 17, at a church in Charleston, S.C., the country lost nine Americans by the hands of a 21-year-old gunman. Not even a full month after the incident, the United States watched as four U.S. Marines were killed at a military site in Chattanooga, Tenn., by a disturbed 24-year-old gunman. On Aug. 26, two journalists were shot and killed on live television in Roanoke, Va. A battered and frustrated America didn’t even have time to dry their eyes before another nine innocent lives were taken at a community college in Oregon, lowering the flags once again.

President Obama addressed the nation after the most recent mass murder, disgusted with the lack of any progress made toward the prevention of these horrific and reoccurring tragedies. When Americans are killed in mine disasters, in floods, on unsafe roads, we work to fix the problem, he said.

“The notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations doesn’t make sense,” Obama said.

Gun advocates believe gun rights define our freedom and secure our liberty under the Constitution. But the idea that guns are our only means of defense is an insult to the American definition of courage. We don’t need guns to defend ourselves; we need brains. If we continue to allow guns to circulate in the hands of those who lack brainpower, then we will continue to watch our nation be robbed of value.

Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, a strong advocate of gun rights, said after the Sandy Hook shooting that if the principal of the school had an assault rifle for defense then 26 lives would have been spared.

It is easy to speculate what you might do in a life and death situation. Everyone hopes they would be the heroes. But the facts can’t lie. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 11,044 recorded deaths from gun violence-related incidents. Of these numbers, a mere 994 were recorded as defensive uses of a firearm.

We are humans that are wired to love and not to kill. I do not think that providing every single citizen with a gun will instill in the human instincts the will and desire to kill another human life even on a basis of defense.

I believe that this is why the number of people killed by guns from self-defense is so low. Humans are hesitant to kill even their enemies because they have an overpowering heart of pity instilled in them.

Human nature is not something that can be changed; violence is not something that should be advocated. A simple solution is common-sense laws that would not take away our rights but provide an intelligence that can overcome power in the hands of stupidity.

New York Sen. Charles Schumer says there are ways to enact gun regulations without compromising our rights as United States citizens. He has suggested a ban on assault weapons, a restricted access to guns for the “mentally unstable,” and a limit to the size of clips to no more than 10 bullets per clip. These are common-sense suggestions that have no effect on our rights to bear arms.

“We need a new paradigm because both sides are in the corner and they could come to the middle,” Schumer said after the Sandy Hook shooting. “Those of who are pro-gun control have to admit that there is a Second Amendment right to bear arms… Once we establish that there is a constitutional right to bear arms we should have the right admit, and maybe they’ll be more willing to admit, that no amendment is absolute after all.”

It is clear America has a problem. It is also clear that America has failed to address this problem. It is my hope that both sides of the conflict will somehow agree that each argument has standing, but some flexibility needs to be given. Americans are smart, and it is time that we start using intelligence and not violence to solve our issues.

Once we begin to fight these robbers with our brains and protect the valuable jewels of our nation, the American flag will begin to fly where it belongs.

Katie Grovatt is a junior journalism major from Tabernacle, N.J. She is a reporter.