It is not by accident that the right to bear arms is in the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution — the founding fathers valued gun ownership highly, placing it just after the fundamental right of free expression.
A common misconception about the Second Amendment is that it is only referential to self-defense, to prevent other individual citizens from causing harm onto us. In fact, the Second Amendment was enacted to provide citizens with the unassailable right to own guns in order to protect themselves from government tyranny. Although it seems unlikely that in the next few years an unforgivable act of tyranny will occur, the founders knew this was always a possibility, and provided citizens with the necessary provisions to protect themselves from enduring this without a means of resistance. Knowing of some of the incredibly dark events in American history, including slavery, internment and Jim Crow laws among others, it cannot be thought of in jest that the United States government can commit heinous acts, and especially in this day and age with the recent increase of government intrusion in our daily lives, protection of our fundamental rights must be conserved.
This clears up the idea that a blanket ban on guns in the United States is even a potential option, and so we must explore a more restrictive approach of gun control — that is what laws and restrictions should be put in place to prevent guns from ending up in the hands of those who should not have access, including convicted criminals and the mentally ill.
The first and most important fact is that a huge proportion of the guns used in criminal activity are obtained illegally, either by burglary, straw-purchases (when someone purchases a firearm with the intention of giving it to someone else who may not have passed the requisite background check) or simply passing of guns from one source to the next within gangs or other groups. This immediately calls into question how effective a stronger broad gun control law would actually be if so many of the guns presently used in violent crimes are obtained illegally.
An assault weapons ban, a popular point of contention by the pro-control side, would barely move the statistic as only about 2 percent of the gun crimes committed annually involve assault weapons. This seems implausible because of the number of stories we hear in the media about acts of terror with assault rifles, such as the horrific Orlando nightclub shooting, but in reality, these crimes constitute a small minority of gun crimes. Although every death is an absolute travesty and must garner equivalent outrage, considering the number of people killed by handguns every year in comparison (5500+ deaths — 47 percent), such a strong push for an assault weapons ban is merely a ploy to incite rage and push anti-gun propaganda onto uninformed voters.
The best way, in my opinion, to reduce gun-related crimes is to increase police activity in areas that are hotbeds for gun-related criminal activity, such as the city of Chicago, where nearly 400 people were shot in the single month of May 2016.
It truly comes down to enforcing existing laws. Strong background checks must actually be conducted with harsher penalties to gun shop owners who fail to uphold them, because despite the fact that people can circumvent them, they still prevent a majority of ineligible people from owning a dangerous firearm.
Also, those whose negligence leads to another using their gun to perpetrate a crime, such as a parent who leaves their firearm accessible to a child, must be punished. This will act as a deterrent against the careless securement of firearms.
The mindless, senseless killing of so many people in this country by firearms is an absolute abomination, but the solution is not to punish lawful gun owners, it is to restrict access to those not eligible. If the issue at hand is that current laws are not being enforced, then the mindless passing of more broad laws will not actually be effective in preventing gun violence.
Toe the Line examines issues from two different sides. Click here to view the Penn Democrats side.
Sanjay Chandrasekhar is a senior in the College.