A Farewell to Arms

According to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, One out of every two victims of gun homicides is African-American. More than 30,000 African-Americans land in the ER from gun assaults yearly. And children and teens are particularly at risk. From guns that are in the wrong hands, guns that too often serve as the answer for problems and guns that are too easy to obtain.

African-Americans helped fight for the right to bear arms, but the time has come to push for more stringent gun laws. I must admit I have a personal stake in this fight. In 2008, my cousin Amanda Collette was killed by a gunshot wound while at school. A year later, my cousin Chonsi Thompson was killed by a gunshot wound, and this past weekend my two younger twin sisters were robbed at gun point.

Over the last decade states throughout this country have enacted gun laws that make it easier to carry a weapon in public and encourage gun usage. For example, the Stand Your Ground Law states that a person may use force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of a threat, without an obligation to retreat first. In some cases, a person may use deadly force in public areas without a duty to retreat. Under these legal concepts, a person is justified in using deadly force in certain situations and the “stand your ground” law would be a defense or immunity to criminal charges and civil suit. In Virginia they repealed a law that would limit the amount of guns you can purchase in a single day. In Tennessee, you can carry a concealed weapon into a bar. In Arizona, legislation was signed allowing gun owners to carry concealed weapons without a permit in most instances and denying local communities the authority to enact gun legislation stricter than state law.

Those laws enacted over the last decade represent a solution in search of a problem. There was no pending legislation that was going to severely restrict gun laws, The National Rifle Association (NRA) and their allies manufactured a crisis and used their financing to push these laws nationally.

As of 2009, there was 307 million Americans and roughly 300 million firearms owned by civilians in the United States. Roughly 16,272 murders were committed in the United States during 2008. Of these, about 10,886 or 67% were committed with firearms. At the current homicide rate, roughly one in every 240 Americans will be murdered. Despite these facts, there is no national push to enforce a ban on assault rifles, a limit on bullet magazines, more stringent background checks, or efforts to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals.

Some say guns do not kill people, people kill people, but to that I say try committing a massacre like Columbine or the Gabriel Giffords Arizona shooting with your fist and not a gun. Guns kill and need to be regulated more rigorously. The constitution grants everyone the opportunity to bear arms, it is a right that should be afforded to all responsible Americans, but I would not lose any sleep if we all bid a farewell to arms.

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