We’ve all heard the slogan “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people,” and have probably read it numerous times on bumper stickers (the proper platform to publicly display trite and oversimplified opinions on public policy at the risk of distracting and endangering fellow drivers). For a large portion of my life, I was inclined to agree with this statement. However, recent events such as school shootings and the Trayvon Martin case have caused me to re-consider my stance on the issue of “the right to bear arms.” While I have not yet reached a definitive personal opinion on the best gun law policy, I think there is much to be said for laws that would prohibit the sale of firearms for private use.
One of the main arguments against gun control is that such control is unconstitutional. The text of 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.” It is highly debated whether or not this language refers to an individual right to firearms. It seems to me that, regardless of the original intentions of this amendment, the right to bear arms should be evaluated in the context of our modern society. We do not live in the same world as the founding fathers, and since this portion of the Constitution deals with technology (something that is continually changing and advancing unlike the right to free speech, for example), it should be flexible enough to adapt to these changes.
Another argument in favor of “the right to bear arms” is that, even with strict gun laws in place, firearms can still be purchased and used illegally. In other words, gun laws do not stop the bad guys, and leave the good guys defenseless. The problem with this argument is that it over-simplifies the issue. Couldn’t a “good guy” become a “bad guy” with enough anger and a deadly weapon at his disposal? You may not be a convicted thief, but if you were starving and saw a 20-dollar-bill drop out of someone’s purse, would you keep it or return it? Guns do not necessarily create criminals but they are a temptation that can bring out the worst in people.
It is clear that gun control laws need to be carefully evaluated in this country. Although the original intention behind the second amendment is important, it is not necessarily applicable to modern society. I cannot disagree with the bumper sticker slogan mentioned above, but while it is true “people kill people,” guns sure make it a whole lot easier.