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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

OPINION: Maintaining our rights with common sense gun control

Gun control. The topic everyone groans to hear mentioned by that one uncle at holiday dinner. But before you go firing from the hip, there is one truth we can all agree on: innocent people should not die from gun violence, and taking steps to combat this is only right.

As 2015 came to a close we saw media outlets tallying the number of mass shootings in the U.S. The statistics were harrowing, and may make it seem like this country is absolutely infatuated with leveling rifles at one another. We need only look further than the number of American deaths due to firearms in 2013 to feel compelled to action. According to the CDC, that number is 33,363.

On Jan. 5, President Obama appealed to both sides of the argument and laid out his executive action to cut down on the number of gun deaths in the U.S., and effectively sidestepped a gridlocked and incapable of bipartisan action Congress, and the lobbying prowess of the NRA.

In a multifaceted approach, Obama plans to streamline and strengthen the background check system, add 200 additional ATF agents, work with the private sector to increase gun safety technology and finally work harder to provide for this country’s mentally ill.

Besides setting off a huge spike in gun sales across the country by those who actually believe the government will come knocking for their guns, this action will hopefully close the loophole in gun show and internet gun sales. The effort may seem small, but the aim here is progress.

On most college campuses in this nation, including Western, firearms are either outright banned or the decision is left up to the college to decide. Here we temporarily separate ourselves from our rights in order to hopefully provide a safer campus community. It is a momentary sacrifice that betters the whole, no stripping of rights required.

The Second Amendment is still very much a part of our Constitution, and rightly so. Although in many states we are allowed the right, there is little redeeming quality in someone cradling a semi-automatic weapon in your local grocery, and even less that screams of the “well-regulated militia” the amendment allows for.

But beyond taking part in their own personal saber rattling ritual, these folks are, in fact, exercising a right guaranteed to them by the Constitution. And if anything is for certain, it is that guns are seen as fully ingrained in our national fabric, patriotic to the hilt and certainly not going anywhere in the U.S.

This being said, it is imperative that ownership of guns must find a stable middle ground. Barring an amendment that would likely melt many a face off, it’ll be up to Congress, Presidential executive action and individual state legislation to enact common sense gun laws that provide for our rights, but also for our lives.

The worry with many is that eventually all guns will be outlawed, but Obama’s speech did well to assuage that fear. Second Amendment rights aren’t at risk of being abolished, but the rights of everyone in our country to feel safe should be given the same amount of respect.

This country should not settle for anything less, and our action should not stagnate. If even one life is spared, the hours it took to accomplish it are justified. This is the price of living in a developed society, and we don’t have to sacrifice any rights to get there.

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