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Lawyers, Guns, and Money

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In the wake of the tragic shooting in Aurora Colorado, at the premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises" discussion has started again--as often is the case after a random violent shooting--in regards to gun policy in the United States.  Three positions, two argued by opposite ends of the political spectrum and one in the middle, tend to be the most popular recently.  Each position however, has its flaws and the best resolution has nothing to do with the guns themselves, but with the people behind the trigger.

The first opinion held by those of the extreme left is to do away with guns period, even though the banning of a freedom contrasts with the basic tenet of liberalism.  Liberalism believes in allowing the most rights to a citizen possible--liberals tend to be for decriminalizing drugs, keeping abortion legal, and proponents of gay marriage.  Yes, guns are dangerous but for some Americans they are also a way of life.  Some people in this country love to hunt with firearms, believe in them for a form of self-defense, or are just interested in the entire gun culture.  A true liberal is for the right for any citizen to practice any religion, they are not a proponent for banning religion.  That is also true with guns.  A liberal should encourage any qualified person to own a gun, not for the right to be rescinded.

The liberals who take this position understand that a right--an Amendment actually--will be taken away.  However, they feel the ends justify the means.  England with strict gun laws has around 50 deaths per year caused by firearms, whereas the United States has 10,000.  England is just 1/5 the size of the United States in population and yet .05% less gun related death.  With this evidence it would seem like the obvious answer is to just remove the guns.  But there are lies, damn lies, and then statistics.  Switzerland, which conscripts a majority of men in their 20's and 30's into the militia, has up to 3 million guns in circulation and yet only 34 murders caused by firearms as reported in 2006.  Switzerland is an example that more accessibility to guns does not mean more gun-crimes.  So why should we restrict gun ownership at all?

That is the opinion of the extreme right, that no rules should restrict the ownership of guns.  Americans should be able to buy any gun they want, and own as many as they want.  While some Americans who feel this way are genuine in their opinion, others, like the National Rifle Association, are pushing this agenda for their own economic interests.  When the NRA scares Americans that the government is trying to take away their guns, gun sales go up.  Make no mistake, the NRA's main agenda is to increase gun sales.  That is why they fight tooth and nail against any form of gun restriction.  What is best for the country is not best for their interests, and so they are not interested in gun reform.  But with 10,000 deaths a year something has to be done.  But what should we do?

The middle of the road opinion argues not for guns to be banned completely, but only certain types of guns, such as assaults rifles, 100-round clips, silencers, and extreme weaponry that is above the needs of hunting or personal defense for one's home.  Deer hunters don't need AK-47s, and a shotgun would be enough to protect your house, not an M-4 with SOPMOD kit.  However, this opinion truly ignores the intention of the 2nd amendment.  We were not given the right as Americans to own guns for the sake of hunting or personal defense.  We were given the right to own guns to rise up against the government if necessary.  If that time should ever come, how could we ever be successful in overthrowing a tyrannical government, if we don't have access to the best toys to fight back with?

The real solution has nothing to do with the types of guns that can be bought, but the kind of people that can buy guns.  Switzerland proves that responsible people trained and prepared in owning a gun, can be responsible with a gun.  We have to instill that guns are only in the hands of responsible, law-abiding adults.  Laws that require background checks, only require that licensed gun sellers do background checks.  However, if you are at a tag sale or a "gun show" and unlicensed you can sell a gun to whoever you want.  Rational people of any political party should not have a problem with this.  If you fail a background check you should not be able to own a gun.  It should not take more information and research to attain a cell phone then to own a gun.  No one should be able to buy any type of gun, without any type of background check, and conversely anyone who passed a background check should be able to buy any type of gun.  To be against this reasonable precaution for something as powerful as a gun, is not someone arguing for the rights guaranteed in the 2nd Amendment, but someone just arguing for the agenda of the NRA to allow more guns sales, without regard for responsibility of gun ownership.   

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Drew D'Amato is the author of the novels Social Studies and Bloodlines. He also has a masters degree in history, and has taught at the high school and college levels. When not writing he spends his time getting himself into trouble.
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