Why America Needs Less Gun Control
By Douglas Ciampi '19
On November 13th, the Ring-tum Phi ran an opinion piece entitled “Why America Needs Gun Control,” which relied heavily on a single article from Vox and failed to address any counter arguments.
No one disputes the fact that crime is bad – in fact, that is why we make crimes illegal: to demonstrate that we as a society reject those actions.
The article reads:
“In these mass shootings, three-fourths of all guns used have been obtained legally. Indeed, the shooter in Sutherland Springs legally purchased his weapons.”
This claim is not only suspect, but borders on straight fraudulence. “Mass shooting” is too undefined and too underreported to warrant attachment of any specific statistics. Specifically addressing the issue of the Sutherland Springs shooting, I would like to ask the author, Chase Isbell '21, if he has have ever purchased a firearm. When an individual purchases a firearm from an FFL (federal firearms licensee), of which all commercial sales are required to be done through, they must fill out a 4473 - a federal background check.
This form asks, amongst many other questions the following:
“Have you ever been convicted in any court of a felony, or any other crime for which the judge could have imprisoned you for more than one year, even if you received a shorter sentence including probation?”
“Have you ever been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence?”
Both of these are federal disqualifiers, and legally prohibit someone from purchasing a firearm. As has been widely reported now, the Sutherland Springs shooter had been convicted of domestic abuse, and served a year for his crime. His purchase was not legal. The system that the author is arguing for simply failed to report his crimes.
“Many of these weapons are not mere handguns used for protection either; rather they are large and powerful guns used in warfare.”
There seems to be this notion amongst many on the left, that gun crime is limited to so called assault weapons – that is false, and can be disproven with actual statistics. The FBI releases such statistics. Only about 3% of gun murders are committed with rifles, which is why it’s more difficult to purchase a handgun than a rifle. Specifically addressing the wording “mere handgun,” pistols can also be exceptionally powerful. Anyone who has ever discharged a .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, or even a .45 ACP can testify to that, excluding more exotic cartridges like the .500 Smith & Wesson and the .50 Action Express which are easily capable of killing large game, up to and including bears. The majority of mass shootings typically involve a rifle chambered in .223 Remington/5.56 NATO, which is a relatively small rifle round. Rounds such as the .270 Remington, .308 Winchester, and the .30-06 Springfield are large and powerful, yet people do not use them for crime – they use them for hunting. It is not the size of the round that is the issue, it is how it is used. I have personally had encounters of the moose kind while hiking alone, and rest assured, I had limited faith in my nine millimeter M&P, a gun that has been used in mass shootings, to protect me if the circumstances called for it. Flashlights and canteens are also used in warfare, but we should not ban those either just because of that fact.
“…the right to bear arms does not stop the government from passing laws restricting the purchase and use of such dangerous weapons.”
Chase and I clearly have fundamentally different understandings of the phrase “shall not be infringed,” but that is a discussion on its own.
“In an ideal world, I would love to make all gun ownership illegal and amend the Constitution to eliminate the Second Amendment.”
See, the issue with this article is that the author fundamentally does not support gun control. In fact, his belief calls for millions of more firearms to be produced. He actually supports massive gun ownership, except the only people who are armed make up the government. Let us play out this dream world where the Second Amendment has just been repealed. What happens next? Well, a bunch of underpaid police and National Guardsmen, who are statistically predisposed to strongly supporting the right to keep and bear arms, are going to be given orders to go confiscate about 300,000,000 weapons, only a fracture of which are registered. Assuming that about 95% of gun owners comply without struggle, which is quite the assumption, there are at least 1,000,000 well-armed and diehard supporters of the Second Amendment who have been preparing their whole life for this moment. Given that the majority of western armies need about a 10:1 ratio to quell a guerilla insurrection, the United States only needs to deploy every single active duty soldier, plus another 8,000,000 to defeat the uprising. The death and carnage that would spawn out of that would surely embody the liberal values of gun control.
“Additionally, we must keep a record of all gun purchases and ownership. By doing so, we can notice when an individual is stockpiling weapons, which is one of the largest red flags indicating that an individual plans on committing violent acts.”
Where is this belief coming from? As someone deeply involved in the firearms community, I have actually never heard this argument made before. People who own a lot of guns, typically do so because they love guns, and guns are really fun to shoot. Need a carry gun? 9mm. Need a backup pistol or a pocket gun? .380. Home defense? 12 guage. Small game? .223. Medium game? .30-30. Large game? .30-06. Some people just need a lot of guns. It would seem that attempting to use or carry so many firearms during a crime would just be burdensome, and if anything, slow or hinder the attacker.
“Also, I believe we must prohibit the sale and ownership of weapons more powerful than handguns.”
Strangely enough, the English thought the opposite – at least they looked at the facts. Handguns are overwhelmingly more likely to be used in crimes. They are easier to conceal, the ammunition is frequently cheaper, and there is a handgun for every task. There are also multitudes of handguns that are more powerful than rifles. Personally, I would like not to be shot, but I would prefer to be hit with a .22 long rifle round over a .500 Smith & Wesson pistol.
“There is no need for an individual to have a weapon lethal enough to kill masses of people in a single incident.”
With the exception of muzzle loaders, every firearm is capable of this. Lest we forget the shooting that happened closest to us, was carried out with a 9mm handgun at Virginia Tech, leading to the deaths of some 33 people.
“Such guns are unnecessary for self-protection.”
I wonder if the individual who shot the Sutherland Springs shooter with an AR pattern rifle thought, “Thank God I do not have a weapon powerful enough to kill an armed criminal at a safe distance.” Rifles are used frequently when it comes to protection from large game. Those individuals who do not have the privilege of living in safe and suburban communities must rely on large caliber rifles and powerful handguns to protect themselves from the nature around them.
Firearms and the American identity are closely linked. Our nation was born out of armed conflict, and we have never lost that fighting spirit. The United States is armed like no other country, and what it would take to disarm the country is a toll that no one is willing to pay. This summer I had an encounter in the city of Boston late at night while I was with a group of my friends. Thankfully, I did not have to use my firearm that I was lawfully carrying. But following the ordeal, one of the individuals I was with turned to me and said “In that moment, I did not go ‘Thank God Doug isn’t concealed carrying.” There are so many millions of firearms in circulation that we cannot realistically stop criminals from getting them, we can however, be prepared to respond. That is why I encourage every law-abiding American to get their carry permit, and be prepared to defend themselves and their loved ones from the evil that will always exist.