Necessary action on American gun laws is being undermined

Barack_Obama 300 x 200by Alexandra Groom

The Second Amendment needs to be put into perspective. This short phrase, passed by Congress, has divided Americans more than the Red Sox or the Yankees have ever managed to.

The Second Amendment says: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

At the time it was passed, America did not have a standing army, and citizens were granted the right to own guns to protect themselves and the state. The right to bear arms is thus the right to form a militia when presented with a warring faction in unstable times, not the right of modern day Americans to carry automatic assault rifles.

An issue with these historic traditions in modern day settings is the advance of what these traditions are upholding. An ‘arm’ in 1791 was a Flintlock Musket or a rifle – cumbersome and taking a skilled gunman a minimum of 20 seconds to reload. None of the high profile killers of the past few decades would have been able to do much more than sizeable injury to one person with either firearm before they were overpowered by those around them.

Oregon State Senator Ginny Burdick said “If we have a five-shot limit for hunting big game, why on earth would we want to have 100 round magazines on our streets?” This amount of firepower is quite obviously ridiculous, and yet it has become desensitised.

I am perfectly aware that violent video games will not turn all my friends into serial killers, but there is always a constant niggle lurking. What is it about them that is so enjoyable? What are these games doing to young minds? And what are they doing to ill minds?

Mental illness is a huge, and disgracefully untreated problem. Every day worried parents drive away from mental hospitals with their now placid children, having just been told that ‘there’s nothing they can do’. Sweet children can turn into monsters in split seconds, threaten their family, end up lonely and depressed, and be told a few years later that the pills they’re on mean they’re “fixed”. With inadequate mental health care, lethal weapons freely at their disposal, and the media hanging on to every gory detail, they become dangerous to themselves and everyone around them.

Obama is aware that there is a gun problem, but whether he can do enough to fix it is not necessarily going to be his decision. Congress has a well honed knack of dropping spanners in many of his proposed works, however last Wednesday Obama unveiled new legislative proposals and 23 executive actions that he can introduce without its approval.

The key actions included making background checks universal when buying guns, improving state reporting of criminals and the mentally ill, supporting research on gun violence and making mental health aid available to all.

His words were full of hope, “As soon as I’m finished speaking here I will sit at that desk and I will sign a directive […] to help reduce gun violence.”

Yet Obama is aware that the National Rifle Association (NRA) and a large percentage of Americans will object to these proposals. An Oregon County Sheriff’s open letter to Obama stated: “Any federal regulation enacted by Congress or by executive order of the President offending the constitutional rights of my citizens shall not be enforced by me or by my deputies.”

If those who are in charge of upholding the law are not going to support these new measures, then Obama has slightly more than an uphill struggle ahead of him.

Sandy Hook acted as a catalyst for many because it was made so public. Yet however much it finally looks like he might start to make headway against gun crime, every day more lives are quietly lost due to guns and denial – at least 900 in the last month alone. The only laws already in place are simply riddled with loopholes. Licensed gun dealers have to run background checks on potential buyers, but not only are the databases underfunded and rarely updated, but they only account for sixty percent of gun purchases. The rest are done through private sale or gun fairs, neither of which requires any sort of check.

Unfortunately, twenty toddlers and six terrified teachers fell victim last month because although the advancement of technology is craved and celebrated, ‘tradition’ in turn is to be so resolutely adhered to, that common sense, and tragically innocent lives, fall down in its wake. Let’s hope Obama stays true to his word.

One thought on “Necessary action on American gun laws is being undermined

  • I agree with Alexandriana, I think it’s high tide that the American right to bear arms is reviewed. All across the USA bears are being mercilessly slaughtered in the name of the second amendment; bear numbers are dwindling as, more than ever before, Americans stock up on arms. Thank you for drawing awareness to the plight of these poor bears


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