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Squaring the Second Amendment with School Safety

Gaby Fleming ’18, Opinion Columnist

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As with every mass shooting, losing seventeen lives in Parkland, FL. on Feb. 14 was an absolute tragedy and something society should work to prevent. No child should have to witness evil and death in their classrooms. Regarding the planned marches for gun control this month, which I understand are being organized mostly by high school students, I can applaud them for making use of their First Amendment rights and taking the initiative to try and enact change on their communities. However, unlike many fellow Dickinsonians, I don’t believe banning guns is the answer.

Any gun currently on the market should stay on the market. We have an opioid crisis in this country, despite the substances being by and large criminalized. Just as a black market for hard drugs has developed due in part to the war on drugs, the same will happen (and is already happening in some cities) for guns. I think a black market for firearms in the United States would prove even more dangerous than the problems we are currently facing. Chicago has bans on gun shops, shooting ranges, assault weapons, and high capacity magazines, and, as NPR [National Public Radio] has noted, still has thousands of shooting victims every year, a handful every single day. Gun control legislation simply will not stop those who wish to do harm to others from doing so. If a person wishes to commit the egregious act of mass murder, a ban on guns will not prevent it. Criminals will construct bombs, use knives, or misuse vehicles, all of which can often cause equal damage– just ask the 130 injured and 33 killed in a knife attack in China in 2014. Additionally, the international claim that the United States has a major problem with firearm homicide is rather exaggerated, with the U.S. rated 28th in international homicide rates.

The Second Amendment affirms the right and individual liberty of United States citizens to gun ownership. The intent of the Second Amendment is not merely to protect against burglars or school shooters. As Thomas Jefferson said, the right to bear arms is “a last resort” for people “to protect themselves from the tyranny in government.” With this in mind, in the midst of sorrow and devastation, the calls to ban certain guns can seem appealing or commonsensical to some. However, greater individual rights and liberty are at stake and we must be conscious of that. If the government knocks on my door wanting to threaten my freedom and/or safety, I want my AR-15.

I grew up in a household where guns were very commonplace, so I must admit my own bias leans towards protecting responsible gun-owners. I learned from a very young age that my father’s various array of twenty-plus guns were not going to come waltzing out of his closet or bedside table. It takes a person to pull the trigger. The weapon is innocent, the NRA [National Rifle Association] takes a grand total of zero taxpayer dollars, and the NRA has never killed anyone. This is unlike the similarly controversial organization Planned Parenthood, which not only amasses thousands in taxpayer dollars, but kills 1.2 million people per year, versus the 11 thousand homicides by firearm per year.

Let’s take a moment and talk about the National Instant Background Check System (NICS). As of 2016, 29 states submit less than 80 percent of their felony convictions to the NICS system, leaving more than 21 million (according to Congress in 2010) felony convictions in the dark. The Sutherland Springs shooter was one of these “in the dark” cases. Now one thing I can get riled up about is that funding has been slashed to make NICS system reporting easier and more effective. I firmly believe all local governments should be investing resources into making the most of NICS and to report every incident and everyone already legally prohibited from owning a firearm. I understand there are privacy concerns that come into play concerning mental health diagnoses and disclosures, and these are conversations we need to have. We need a way to enter those with mental illness who could pose a serious threat with a gun into NICS, and we need to do so in a way that upholds human dignity and does not stigmatize mental health more than it already is.  I also think the federal definition of domestic violence needs to be extended to include boyfriends and girlfriends, as most firearm homicides spur from domestic violence. We need to make the very most of our current infrastructure before we place the second amendment under fire.

So what about the schools? I think investing in basic infrastructure like metal detectors at main entrances and armed security guards in every school is a start. We should be protecting our most precious assets– our children. Banks, government buildings, and even some hotels have better security measures to keep outsiders out than our public schools. The fact of the matter is that it takes an armed individual to disarm another armed individual. Allowing schools to be gun-free zones is allowing our nation’s children to be framed as sitting ducks. According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, from the 1950’s through July 10 of 2016, 98.4 percent of mass shootings have occurred on gun-free zones, with just 1.6 occurring where citizens were allowed to have firearms. Let’s change that. Let’s ensure that another Parkland doesn’t occur without jeopardizing the right of law-abiding citizens to own and operate certain firearms.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Squaring the Second Amendment with School Safety”

  1. Chris Fleming on March 8th, 2018 4:51 pm

    I disagree. If a bunch of emotional teenagers protest, whether they are crisis actors or not, we should ignore the Bill of Rights.

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Squaring the Second Amendment with School Safety