One of today’s most heated political debates is that over the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, the individual right to keep and bear arms. There are those that argue that guns are too dangerous to enjoy the legal protections they currently have. Debates are raging over whether or not Americans deserve the right to own a firearm. But why do our representatives argue over this issue? The positions of our representatives on gun-control can be more easily derived from how much trust they place in their fellow citizens than whether or not they can be stereotyped as “redneck” or “elitist.”
There are those who don’t own guns and would never consider owning one, but still support an armed citizenry because they feel others won’t misuse firearms. There are also those who keep a handgun under their pillows but support bans on firearms because they believe that the majority can’t be trusted with them. The views of those who would keep the Second Amendment only for themselves are not limited to a select few. A famous study asked white parents for their response if their daughter asked if a black classmate could come over to play. Seven tenths responded that they had no objection, but only three tenths believed that others would say the same. One might say a study on firearms ownership would yield similar results.
Laws that prohibit law-abiding citizens from owning firearms violate two principles, one that America was built on, and one that civil society is built on. The first is the idea of due process: that every person is innocent until proven guilty. Until a crime is committed with a gun, it is a morally ambiguous machine that cannot cause harm without a human agent. Therefore, there is nothing criminal in itself about owning a firearm, and an attempt to prohibit their possession by law abiding citizens is based in prevention of utilizing guns to commit crime. But why should those without a rap sheet be forbidden from gun ownership? To do so would be to assume guilt without a specific wrong to be guilty of. The second idea is the “Golden Rule”: that we should treat others as we wish to be treated. Ask yourself: would I allow others the privileges I would wish for myself? Do you consider yourself responsible enough to own firearms?
But what should be done about crimes committed with guns? If it would be immoral to prohibit others from possessing arms based on fear of the possibilities, the most efficient solution is to make others less likely to commit crimes. As a community, we can work to teach children to use non-violent solutions to non-violent problems, and organize afterschool programs to keep our children off the streets. Start a neighborhood crime watch. Give those returning from jail a chance to prove that they’ve reformed. Working to keep civilians from possessing arms is foolish when our efforts could be better spent trying to help others solve the problems that might drive them to a life of crime.
Editor’s Note: “The Elephant’s Peanut Gallery,” “Liberal Bias,” and “The Latent Spark” and are opinion columns granted to the College Republicans, Progressive Students Alliance and College Libertarians.