On November 5th, 26 people were killed in a shooting outside of San Antonio, Texas, the youngest victim being a 18 month old baby. The shooter, Devin Kelley, was met with rifle fire from a neighbor near the church, where a chase ensued with a neighbor and another patron in a truck. It seems like we hear about these shootings every month, but the real question is what can we do about these mass shootings? Likely the most controversial debate in American politics, gun control has shown on both sides to be a blessing and a curse. With America being one of the only countries to have guns available to the public as a right, it is hard to compare both sides as there is not enough countries like ours, to show how guns either increase or decrease crime.
All of us Americans can generally agree that we need stricter gun buying process’ and better background checks, as seen recently in Texas, where a man massacred a church full of people, wasn't legally allowed to buy a gun, as he had domestic abuse charges against him while he was in the Air Force. However, the Air Force never reported his charges to the national database, making his criminal history look clear, this is proof that we need better vetting process’ for people who are buying weapons. Even Ronald Reagan wrote an open letter in 1991 showing his support for the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act. Wikipedia describes it as, “An Act to provide for a waiting period before the purchase of a handgun, and for the establishment of a national instant criminal background check system to be contacted by firearms dealers before the transfer of any firearm.”, this comes nearly 10 years after the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. On the other hand, liberals in America say that the only way to prevent these gun crimes is by lots of regulations. Becky Ceartas from the New Observer states, “Of course, banning or heavily regulating bump stocks is an important first step, but it barely scratches the surface of what’s needed to address our gun violence ‘epidemic’, although less than 1% of gun homicides are a result of mass shootings. Congress must also ban military-style assault weapons, require gun stores to report multiple sales of all firearms to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and increase the agency’s funding to deal with the surge in weapons applications.” By regulating and lengthening the gun buying process in the U.S, she believes we can help reduce the number of mass shooting around America, and by closing the ‘gun show loophole’.
Most Republicans will say gun crime in America is very obviously the most popular weapon murderers and robbers use to commit their crimes, but in places like the UK, the most commonly used weapon is not a gun, but kitchen knives. In fact, the stabbings in the UK are such a problem that doctors pushed for the ban on long pointed kitchen knives, Gunfacts.com says, “Kitchen knives are being used in as many as half of all stabbings in the United Kingdom and has prompted a group of doctors to call for a ban on long pointed kitchen knives.” When you ban someone from using a certain weapon, they will likely choose to use a knife, acid in some countries, or in the cases of terrorism, a bomb, van or plane.
The biggest concerns that Republicans have with gun control are individual freedoms, self defense, and regulations. Individual freedoms are a large concern because Republicans believe that when you take away the right for the people to rebel against their own government, then a tyrannical government is inevitable when rights are slowly ripped away. Another large concern is self defense, as many people call the gun ‘The great equalizer’, as anyone can use a gun for their own defense. However, Republicans will agree with many regulations that Democrats also agree with, such as regulating bump stocks after the Las Vegas shooting were both supported by Republicans and the NRA.
Democrats are more concerned with gun violence itself, as they think having less guns on the streets will lower crimes, and in addition, making lower class neighborhoods less violent. Democrats also are concerned with mass shootings, as Charlie, my interview subject from Australia, saw his country deal with guns in the mid 90’s, he said, “I don't understand why a person would need something like an AR-15, they are meant for killing, not for defense.” Many Democrats would agree with this statement, as they think changing the laws to make assault rifles will lower mass shootings in America, while many Republicans will agree with a much longer waiting period, they stand firm on the position of the second amendment, and say they should never be completely banned. In addition to lowering the number of guns on the streets, there will be less accidents among young people, and help prevent suicides in the process.
People who believe in the Second Amendment will say the founding fathers knew that their would be advances in guns, as The Federalist puts it, “the refusal of the Founding Fathers to precisely name the types of arms which citizens have a right to keep and bear was intentional. The same can be said of their refusal to constrain our right of free expression to quill pens and bulky printing presses…. The Second Amendment isn’t about muskets and bayonets. It’s about the right of a free people to defend themselves with arms if necessary.” What the author is saying is that the founding fathers intended to leave the second amendment to include every weapon with the advance they knew was going to take place within the next centuries.
However, some people believe only the government should have full access to weapons. The Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS), revealed that the whole Government has very loose inventory, while they “misplaced” 539 weapons, including a gas-grenade launcher and 39 automatic rifles or machine guns. Six guns were eventually linked to crimes (two guns had been used in armed robberies, was confiscated in a raid on a drug laboratory, two others during arrests and one was being held as evidence in a homicide investigation).In July of 2001, it was reported that the FBI lost 449 weapons, including machine guns. Across California alone, over nine hundred and forty four guns were misplaced in 6 years alone, guns going missing from government agencies is not uncommon. If you wish the Government to have guns, then only criminals will have any access to them, not the average person.
According to a study by Jeffrey A. Miron, where his results say, “the major surveys completed in the past 20 years or more provide no evidence of any relationship between the total number of legally held firearms in society and the rate of armed crime. Nor is there a relationship between the severity of controls imposed in various countries or the mass of bureaucracy involved with many control systems with the apparent ease of access to firearms by criminals and terrorists.”
In conclusion, there is much more common ground on things that both parties say than they like to think there is. Finding our common ground is important, CNN found that 8 in 10 Americans from both parties agree that support blocking the mentally ill from purchasing guns, and both support barring people on the no fly list from buying guns, and a majority of both parties support background checks for private sales and gun shows. The best place to start is by finding the best laws that make both parties happy in the process of lowering gun crime in America, and possibly influencing abroad.
Davis, Sean. “7 Gun Control Myths That Just Won't Die.” The Federalist, 21 Oct. 2015, thefederalist.com/2015/10/07/7-gun-control-myths-that-just-wont-die/.
Smith, Guy. “Gun Facts Version 7.1.” Gun Facts, 2017.
“Gun Control - ProCon.org.” Should More Gun Control Laws Be Enacted in the United States?, gun-control.procon.org/.
The project that I did was based on whether gun control is the solution to gun violence, and showed both sides when it came to extreme views on both sides and finding the middle ground to come to a conclusion. The exhibition in my experience was very engaging, although I nearly passed out standing up talking to Jessica's substitute teacher, I found it to be very open and had a lot of different dialogue in the seminar and also the discussions people had with students about their projects. I do however wish that I could understand what I was saying to him and every other guest, as I was deprived of air because of my tie and overheated. After analyzing both sides, I found I concluded by realizing we could use tighter regulations on all weapons, and we need to hold people responsible for incidents like the Texas church massacre, as the culprits past domestic abuse violations in the Air Force was never reported to the national database. As a gun owner myself, I did recognise that the background checks, although thorough, should include better mental health evaluations that are responsible for the gun owner to pay for. My perspective has actually shifted slightly left, and I understand where Liberals come from when they say they believe that taking guns off the street altogether would lower crime, but I believe the opposite.
After learning about this project, I have come to realize how truly fortunate we are as Americans to live in a society where we worry more about what shoes we wear today rather than wondering where our next meal is coming from. And to live in a society like Durango, where there is a very low crime rate and an astonishingly low number of poor people, we are truly fortunate. To be in a society where we are talking more about gender pronouns rather than real issues though, bothers me about where our world is heading. I also recognised that we don't live in a true democracy, rather a Representative Republic. I also did research on how a true democracy will never work, as a vast majority of the population is either informed or so biased on their opinions there is no changing their minds, and in fact, the founding fathers were terrified of a true democracy. True democracies generally lead to corruption, although less corrupt than most systems, it generally leads to something called machine politics, a political organization in which the bosses dole out rewards in exchange for the vote. It can be as simple as paying money to someone in exchange for their vote, or giving someone a job in the office of the politician who commands the machine. Another thing is mob rule, where the majority have control over the minority, which leads to destabilization and lower national unity. I believe that the current political system is the best we can get as of now, although there is corruption and each party tries to erase what the previous one did.
Although I went slightly left on my opinion of guns, my own opinions on everything else only became stronger, and I now generally align with libertarian and Conservative beliefs. I believe this changed mostly because of the panel we had with the liberal parents and also the socratic seminar that took place really strengthened my opinions. I believe that rogerian rhetoric is very important in a democratic society, but what I have a problem with is that the press used to be based on exposing corrupt politicians in the 1800’s, now it is an opinionated pothole where each one you have to be sure they are giving you the truth. I wish that the news could just be news, where you didn't need to worry about getting possibly false information. I also feel that willing to be disturbed is important within a democracy as it is important to change minds, because if someone is not open minded and will always defend their beliefs because that makes them feel weak, our republic will not work.
Fahrenheit 451 Painting
MASK AND MASK ESSAY
“These boys and girls enter our organizations [at] ten years of age, and often for the first time get a little fresh air; after four years of the Young Folk they go on to the Hitler Youth, where we have them for another four years . . . And even if they are still not complete National Socialists, they go to Labor Service and are smoothed out there for another six, seven months . . . And whatever class consciousness or social status might still be left . . . the Wehrmacht [German armed forces] will take care of that.” --Adolf Hitler (1938) From the 1920s onwards, the Nazi Party targeted German youth as a special audience for its propaganda messages. These messages emphasized that the Party was a movement of youth: dynamic, resilient, forward-looking, and hopeful. Millions of German young people were won over to Nazism in the classroom and through extracurricular activities. In January 1933, the Hitler Youth had only 50,000 members, but by the end of the year this figure had increased to more than 2 million. By 1936 membership in the Hitler Youth increased to 5.4 million before it became mandatory in 1939. The German authorities then prohibited or dissolved competing youth organizations.