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Head to head: Gun control, Don’t tread on me

Arron Riffle, Editor

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Just over two months ago 17 people lost their lives, thirteen of them children, at a high school in Florida. A young man came in and murdered 17 and injured 16 others. The actions of this individual were horrible to say the least, but if you think that gives you the right to come after the right to own or poses a firearm, you are wrong.
Blood spilt. Countless lives lost. Futures cut short. No, I’m talking about the tragedy in Florida. I’m referring to everyone who decided that it was their duty to fight for the freedom and the rights every American citizen has today. The Bill of Rights created in 1789 gave all Americans the first 10 amendments: The first amendment, which grants the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech. The second amendment, the right to bear arms.
“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.”
Whether you want to debate the language of the amendment ror not, the Supreme Court stated in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller: “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.”
The right to bear arms extends to every individual and to those who argue that that interpretation extends only to the weaponry of 1789 when the Bill of Rights were created I say you’re reaching for an interpretation that isn’t expressly written into those rights. If the Bill of Rights were limited to the time period of when the document was written then freedom of speech under the First Amendment wouldn’t extend to every keyboard warrior or anyone using any technology that isn’t word of mouth or the printing press. The Fourth Amendment wouldn’t apply to vehicles. As it stands now the only exception is that police may search an individual’s vehicle only if there is probable cause to believe that evidence is located in the vehicle and they are only allowed to search the areas of the vehicle that are under suspicion.
These rights that people bled over, fought over, and died over are rights that not only must be protected, but must be exercised. Just as muscles atrophy when not used, so does the perceived value of our rights. There are individuals that want to ban specific firearms even though they have never fired a single bullet from a gun. If more individuals were to take the time and learn how firearms work and experience operating a firearm then they would understand that firearms are only tools that are operated by human beings.
The tool that has gained large amount of attention are the AR-15 style rifles. The AR-15 platform is a commercially designed firearm base off of the military’s M-16 rifle in that both firearms are air-cooled, direct impingement gas-operated, magazine-fed. Beyond that they aren’t similar. The military M-16 and M-4 variant are designed to fire in semi-automatic, one squeeze of the trigger one bullet fired, and automatic burst, one squeeze of the trigger three rounds fired. AR-15 rifles are designed to operate and look like the originals, but don’t possess the mechanical parts to fire in burst modes.
Additionally, the standard AR-15 style rifle is chambered to fire a Remington .223 or in some cases the NATO 5.56mm round. In the world of firearms, the .223 is relatively small round. Some of the major criticisms being that the round doesn’t have the lethality or the stopping power of other rifle rounds. Another misconception is that these tools are designed for mass shootings. However, another major criticism is that the barrel length of a standard M-16 is 16 inches and unsuitable for close quarter combat, meaning that the firearms are less effective when used inside a building than a firearm with a shorter barrel such as a handgun. Although AR-15 style rifles look scary they aren’t an all mighty tool of destruction, but merely a watered-down look alike of a military rifle that has its own criticisms.
People look at firearms as if a tool is the cause of the terrible acts that occur, but the truth is guns don’t kill people, people kill people. It’s true there were 15,098 deaths from gun violence in 2016. Of those 15,098 deaths, there were 383 incidents of mass shootings. As tragic and devastating as those numbers are, 37,461 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2016. Of those 37,461 killed 3,450 were from distracted driving, distracted driving defined as talking, texting, eating or drinking, or messing with the radio. When we hear about senseless car accidents we don’t put the blame on phones. We aren’t trying to ban smartphones and there is no test or regulation to determine if someone is fit to operate a phone or radio.
Certainly, there isn’t a ban on how fast a car can go. There aren’t bans on aggressive looking cars. The fastest speed limit in America is 85 mph, yet why can almost every car sold go faster? This is because in every other situation we as a people hold the individual responsible for their actions. With guns however, we as a people want to put the blame on the tools through which gun violence takes place and not the individuals causing the harm.
We are all innocent until proven guilty in the court of law, yet when it comes to firearms some would push aside not only every citizen’s right to keep and bear arms, but argue AR-15 style rifles should be banned. To that I would say, unless you are trying to ban smartphones for distracting drivers and sports car for their aggressive features, you are wrong and don’t tread on me.

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Student newspaper of Park University
Head to head: Gun control, Don’t tread on me