Surely we can figure something out
If lawmakers were not motivated to enact additional gun control measures following the massacre of 20 children at an elementary school in 2012, why do some people think it will happen following the slaughter of a church full of people?
Will there be a breaking point when we say “enough is enough” when it comes to gun violence? Probably not. It didn’t happen after 6- and 7-year-olds were shot to death at Sandy Hook. It didn’t happen after more than 50 were shot to death at a Las Vegas concert. It won’t happen now, after 26 people — ranging in ages from 1 to over 70 — were shot to death inside a Texas church.
As much as I love guns, I think I’m ready to say “enough is enough.” Something must be done to keep this level of violence from happening again. I am willing to sacrifice some of my Second Amendment rights if it means fewer people are killed by guns. I like to think most reasonable people feel the same way. The problem is that it’s hard to create a regulation — aside from the wholesale banning of all guns — that might have prevented the tragedies in Las Vegas and Texas. Enforcing existing regulations may have helped, but people determined to murder are not typically deterred by laws and regulations.
The Second Amendment is straightforward: “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.”
But it is not a blanket protection to own any type of “arms.” I cannot walk into Walmart and purchase a fully automatic weapon. The National Firearms Act regulates machine guns, short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns and destructive devices like grenades, bombs or explosives. And for good reason. They are instruments of war.
The same can be said for the type of gun being used in recent mass shootings. Some call these guns “assault rifles” and that’s probably as good a name as any. They come in several variations and are made by several companies. But they have one thing in common — they allow for the rapid fire of several rounds of ammo. These weapons can hold 30-round magazines that make it possible to unload hundreds of bullets in just a few minutes.
A high capacity magazine makes killing people too easy. Need proof? Just look at what the Las Vegas shooter was able to do. His rifles were made all the more deadly by a so-called “bump stock” device that allowed the gun to be fired as quickly as an automatic weapon. Those devices remain legal and can be easily purchased.
The two sides in this debate approach gun rights from two different perspectives. One sees gun rights as just that — an individual right guaranteed by the Constitution. The other sees gun rights as something else — an antiquated, unnecessary promise that no longer applies.
The Second Amendment is an individual right guaranteed by the Constitution, just like the other nine amendments in the Bill of Rights. But those amendments come with some rules and regulations. The First Amendment, for example, guarantees the right to freedom of religion, speech, press, to peacefully assemble and to petition the government. But we have rules about what you can say and print. The same goes for the Second Amendment. We have laws that regulate firearms.
And it’s those regulations — or lack thereof depending on your perspective — that divide the two camps. So how do we bridge that divide? Is there a compromise that both sides can view as a “win” that helps reduce mass shooting deaths?
I hope so. I don’t know what those compromises might be. Maybe we can prohibit “bump stocks” or prevent those found guilty of domestic violence from purchasing certain types of weapons. Americans, for the most part, are intelligent and caring people. Surely we can figure something out.
Publisher Luke Horton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.