hillel

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Dear Sophia,

On Monday The Daily Pennsylvanian published your article, “Increasing Hillel’s security doesn’t decrease my fear of gun violence.” In the subhead, you state “gun control is a concrete way to prevent future tragedies.” Later in your article, you advocate for “stricter gun control.” However, you offer no examples of when “stricter gun control” has proven to “prevent tragedies.” Without any substantiating evidence, your argument for stricter gun control is likely based on emotions. While emotions are powerful motivators, legislating based off temporary motivators (emotions) will not lead to long-term solutions.

In terms of how “stricter gun control” will allow you to safely practice your religion free of gun violence, consider cities with heavy gun control like Chicago and Los Angeles. Both, in fact, have some of the highest gun violence rates in the United States. Decreased police presence (decreased security) in certain areas of these cities has also given rise to this violence. If increasing Hillel security does not decrease your fear of gun violence, what does?

The FBI reports on statistics like violent (and nonviolent) crime rates. Violent crime rates in areas with higher gun ownership are markedly lower. In 2016, homicides in big cities were reported at 11.3 per 100,000 and the suburban rate was 3.2. That year, individual firearm ownership in big cities was reported at 18 percent and in rural areas at 39 percent. That is almost double the gun ownership with less than a third as many homicides. In Kennesaw, Ga., where about 30,000 Americans live, there is a law requiring all physically and mentally able heads of households to own firearms. In the past six years, that town has had one murder and a violent crime rate of below 2 percent.

“The better and more difficult solution is to abolish the threat at the nexus of this fear.” Is your policy suggestion abolishing the Second Amendment? If so, do you have evidence that abolishing the Second would prevent future gun crimes? Have you looked at Australia where there was a mandatory government buyback that did not cause a decrease in gun violence?

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Abolishing the Second in the name of safety poses myriad problems. If we were to abolish one Amendment in the name of safety, what would stop us from abolishing another in the name of safety? As you can imagine, that leads us down a very slippery slope. By abolishing Amendments (by taking away rights) in the name of safety, safety is put at a higher value than rights. 

This principle could extend to everyday normalities like driving a car or buying cleaning chemicals at the store. Both are seemingly harmless tasks to anyone. However, operating a car poses a potential threat to the safety of others. Similarly, there’s no guarantee someone won’t use the cleaning chemicals to make a bomb or something of the sort. If you gave up one right, why not give up another? Would you personally be willing to give up your right to drive a car or buy household cleaners in the name of someone’s safety? Similarly, would any law abiding citizen willingly give up the Second in the name of someone’s safety?

If we abolish the Second, that puts every other amendment on the chopping block. What if, one day, someone doesn’t like sound of your voice because it makes them feel unsafe? Would you willingly give up the First Amendment for someone else’s safety? I think you know the answer.

Very respectfully,

ANDREW LANGALIS is an Engineering senior from Rowayton, Conn., studying chemical and biomolecular engineering. His email address is langalis@seas.upenn.edu.

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