“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” – Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
On the morning of July 20, 2012, in Aurora, Colorado, a crazed gunman opened fire in a crowded movie theatre killing 12 people and wounding 58 others. Yes, every American has a right to “bear arms”, but it is also true that every American has a right to life, and deficient gun laws are infringing on this right for many Americans.
The United States have weak federal gun laws leading each state to create their own laws, making it easy for irresponsible and dangerous individuals to get their hands on guns. Here are a few gun facts from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence:
- Ø The U.S. has an estimated 283 million guns in civilian hands
- Ø Gun owners throw away an estimated 36,000 guns every year
- Ø Roughly one-third of crime guns recovered by police and traced (41,178) had been purchased at a gun dealer within the past 3 years
- Ø Higher household gun ownership correlates with higher rates of homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings
- Ø Every time a gun injures or kills in self-defense, it is used:
- 11 times for completed and attempted suicides
- 7 times in criminal assaults and homicides, and
- 4 times in unintentional shooting deaths or injuries.
Special interest groups such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) have used their money and influence to weaken gun laws across the country and prevent a debate on gun control measures from taking place. Politicians are afraid to take a stand on gun control because of organization like the NRA, leaving millions of Americans vulnerable.
No one is proposing to “take away” the guns of law abiding citizens, but gun control measures would help keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and psychopaths. The assault rifle ban should be reinstated; assault rifles only serve as instruments of death. The shooter in the deadly Colorado shooting was armed with an assault rifle that jammed; if it hadn’t jammed he would have killed many more. Thorough background checks should be done on all those purchasing a gun. In many states and online, it is far too easy to purchase a gun and large amounts of ammunition without an adequate id or thorough background check. Also, there needs to be a ban on extended ammunition clips. For starters, there is no need for extended ammunition clips except for killing purposes, the shooter in Colorado and Arizona, who shot Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords, wounding 14 and killing six, was both armed with extended ammunition clips. A ban on assault rifles and extended ammunition clips along with more stringent background checks are gun control measures every American should support.
As Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post recently stated in an article: “… Minimal gun control — such as prohibiting assault weapons — wouldn’t eliminate these massacres, but it would prevent some and mitigate others. Lives would be saved…”
I lost a family due to gun violence. My cousin, Amanda Collette, life was taken from her at school. When a parent drops their child off at school they expect them to be safe, not to become the victim of a homicide. So, I somewhat understand what the family and friends of those affected by the Colorado Theatre shooting, Columbine High School shooting, Virginia Tech shooting, and Arizona shooting are feeling.
Some say arming every American with a gun is the solution, but I say that mentality is the source of the problem. As an American you do have a right to “bear arms”, but as an American I have a right to life! I have a right to know that when a loved one goes to school he/she will return home at night. I have a right to know that when I go to meet my Representative I will return home at night. I have a right to know that when I go to the movies I will return home at night. I have a right to expect that reasonable gun control measures are in-effect that will help guarantee my right to life.
**My prayers and well wishes to go out to all those who have lost a loved one to gun violence**