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Last updateWed, 13 Nov 2019 12pm

Politics

Supporting the President’s Plan for Gun Control will Help Limit Gun Violence

On December 24, 2012, 26 people-including 20 innocent children-were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut. After this horrific event occurred, we as a society must take action to ensure it never happens again. President Obama recently laid out a plan to stop these very things from happening. His proposal should be taken very seriously. These simple ideas could go a long way to saving lives in this country. Congress should pass President Obamas proposals to ban assault weapons, require universal background checks when buying guns, and ban high capacity magazines.

The assault rifle used in the Sandy Hook shootings was capable of firing 45 round of ammunition per minute. This military- style weapon can be purchased legally in the U.S. As a debater, I try to think about each side of the issue; however, I cannot fathom why someone would need a weapon that could cause so much destruction. Hunters argue that they need them, but they could easily kill any animal with a handgun or a shotgun. They do not need an assault rifle. Anyone who says they need an assault rifle to hunt must have terrible aim if they need to shoot 45 rounds a minute to kill an animal. We had an assault weapons ban from 1994 until 2004. A Department of Justice study on the ban found a 6.7 percent decrease in total gun murders following the ban. This should not be a debatable issue.

 Dr. Michael Phillips-Anderson of the communication department believes that this will not be able to get passed, “The assault weapons ban is different, Congress will not vote on it.” He also believes that there are ways around the ban even if it will be passed, “Gun manufacturers will be able to get around the law and still make guns. They will change the handle or the barrel so that technically it is not an assault weapon. A law banning assault weapons will need to make sure companies don’t find loopholes in it.”

The U.S. also needs universal background checks on all gun purchasers. We should not allow guns to get into the hands of criminals or those who are mentally ill. The shooter at Virginia Tech in 2007 was legally allowed to buy weapons despite the fact that years earlier he had been deemed as harm to himself and others. According to NPR, as many as 30 states do not submit health records for people who are trying to purchase guns. This may mean that those wishing to purchase guns will need to wait up to 10 days until they can receive them. This is a small price to pay as long as we are able to make sure that that gun is not ending up in the hands of someone it shouldn’t.

We should also have a ban on high-capacity gun magazines. The shooter that almost killed then Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords used a high capacity magazine on his handgun to shoot 31 bullets in 15 minutes. The only reason this shooter was apprehended was because he needed to stop and reload. Had he only been able to shoot 6 bullets he would have needed to reload more quickly thus allowing people to apprehend him sooner. In Virginia police found that in 2004 only 10 percent of gun crimes had involved a high capacity magazine. This, of course, was when high capacity magazines were banned along with assault weapons. Since the ban was lifted, about 22 percent of gun related incidents involved high capacity magazines.

The strongest argument against President Obama’s proposals is that these laws will lead to the outlaw of all guns. People also think that the Second Amendment enables them to acquire assault weapons and high capacity magazines. The First Amendment guarantees our freedom of speech, yet courts have determined that you cannot say things that will harm others. Yes, the Amendment gives you rights, however those rights must be partially curtailed if they are to save lives and stop harm from occurring. Courts always have, and always will, accept exceptions to the Constitution. No judge is an absolute literalist in interpreting the Constitution.

These proposals should be bi-partisan in support. A Gallup poll from January 19 found that 91 percent of Americans favor universal background checks, 60 percent favor an assault weapon ban, and 54 percent favor limiting magazine sizes. Senior Monia Abou Ghali, a political science major, agrees. She believes that these proposals “Will not only help in preventing mass crimes such as the school shooting, but will act as a hindrance to those who wish to misuse them.” These laws will work as well; in Australia, who passed similar assault weapons bans, and gun buybacks. Australia has not had a single mass shooting since these laws were passed. Congress should pass President Obama’s gun control proposals. If even one life is saved, it will be worth it.

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