In the wake of the recent Aurora and Denver shootings, the gun control vs. gun rights debate has gained steam once again. And renewed outcries for stricter norms for arms distribution have started occupying the front pages of every tabloid. The right wing, which comprises of the gun right supporters, advocate that each citizen of this nation is entitled to carry a gun, without any restrictions whatsoever. For example, the politics editor of the fox news, Chris Stirewalt, recently criticized an ad which called for more intense background check, saying that the ad was hilarious and did not convey any serious message. (Media matters, 2013)
On the other hand, the left wing, which comprises of the gun control supporters argue that there should be stricter norms for granting gun access to civilians, and there should also be a classified list of certain types of guns which should not be sold to public. The switch of views among those from the left faction is aptly captured by O’Neill’s article published in ‘The Telegraph’, in which he says, “left wing which had traditionally opposed gun control, today is supporting this cause mainly because it is estranged from the ordinary citizens of this country, and it is a panic reaction more than anything else. (O’Neill, 2012) Who among these two factions interpret the spirit of the second amendment correctly? Let us discuss each of this theory in detail.
Emily Miller, a senior editor with Washington Times, has recently launched a book called ‘Emily gets her gun”, in which she has explicitly expressed her views against gun control laws. (Washington Times, 2013) Being a victim of home invasion, she has been very vocal in the past few years against attempts to alter the second amendment of the constitution. In her book she categorically criticizes the misinterpretation of the recent tragic events and the resultant lobbying for stricter gun laws. Another prominent gun rights activist John Lott, in his book ‘More Guns, Less Crime’, shares the fact that the gun violence is in fact lesser when the gun laws are liberal, and he uses the example for Switzerland to drive home his point. In an article for Fox news, John Lott, rebukes the gun control bill, saying that it is full of false claims, and extending background checks would not stop gun crimes. (Lott, 2013) Clearly the right wing is of the opinion that, if the laws are tougher criminal minds will find a way to bend the law and acquire the weapon. But it will be the law abiding majority, who would not be able to get their hands on a gun at their time of need, and would be rendered defenseless when faced with criminal attacks.
Lott further adds that, gun control activists forget the fact that gun is essential for self defense of an individual, and procedural delays for obtaining a gun might have dangerous repercussions. The New York Times recently carried an article which covers the topic of guns at school. This article dwells on how rural schools, which cannot afford the cost of high priced security systems, are allowing teachers to carry guns. It goes on in detail, as to how the teachers are trained to use their guns, and how the identity of teachers who carry guns is maintained a secret, so that the gun does not fall into the students’ hands. (Severson, 2013) The New York Post discusses how the basics of gun control laws are all wrong, and a law enacted to send a signal to criminals is now being used against law abiding citizen. The critique also mentions that, almost all states in the country except Illinois has some sort of concealed gun law. And only in few states like California and New York, the laws make it unreasonably tougher for an ordinary citizen to carry arms. (Walsh, 2012)
The essence of the right wing argument is that responsible, law abiding citizens should be granted free access to possession of guns. This would enable them to defend themselves in the event of a crime. Thus, according to them more guns will reduce crime and not increase it. To further prove this point Washington times shares a public poll conducted recently, which conveys that the majority of Americans do not think easy access to guns as a reason for mass shooting, but they blame the failure of mental health care systems for such tragedies. (Klimas, 2013)
The Left Wing, though opines that taking the guns out of the streets would help control gun violence. It calls for increased measures like the universal background check, to ensure that guns do not fall in wrong hands. A poll conducted by the National Journal reflects that, many Americans today are of the opinion that public policies should prevent persons with violence crime records obtaining a gun. (Bland, 2013) But even after many incidents such as Sandy hook shootings, Virginia tech shootings etc, the gun control advocates are not able to push the gun-control legislation. The congress’ hesitancy may stem from the fact that Al-gore, who had gun control in his presidential agenda, lost many votes in rural areas. (Simon, 2012) Thus according to LA Times, despite the increasing gun violence the left wing is not able to garner support for their cause in the congress.
LA Times considers gun violence to be a widespread epidemic plaguing the Unite States. It sites a statistic that, guns are the second foremost reason for deaths in Los Angeles. If it were some disease that caused such life loses the administration would be striving hard to find an antidote for it. Thus, LA Times opines, gun violence also should be countered with similar serious efforts. (Simon, 2012) A piece written by Jim Cavanaugh, a law enforcement veteran, in msnbc, states that vigorous gun laws have a direct effect in reducing gun related crimes. According to him, a little compromise in personal freedom and a little more effort to undergo the necessary formalities for a background check, can prevent the loss of many a young lives and brilliant minds, like those in Sandy hook and Aurora. He states that background checks are not for preventing gun ownership but are measures to prevent crime. (Cavanaugh, 2013)
As fox news publishes, America has the highest private gun ownership and highest rate of gun related crimes, in the world. Clearly, there is a coincidence between the number of guns prevailing among the public and the number of crimes in that area. Fox news quotes the American Journal of Medicine, which implies that prevalent of mental illness in a particular region does not correlate with the gun crimes in that area, but higher the guns in an area, higher are the crime rates. The article also brings in the example of Australia, where tighter gun laws introduced in the year 1996, drastically reduced the number of gun – related deaths. (Ghose, 2013)
Owing to the wide media coverage, the gun control debate has not faded from the memories of the public, like the other contentious issues do over a period of time. In the past six months the media coverage of the shootings in Newtown and Conn., is basically done in a different way than they have covered other issues. The primary reason for this being that, President Obama and other politicians have offered the media, a story which they simply can’t resist. (Hayes, 2013) Both sides would agree that the solution to this problem lies in a political middle ground between the left and the right. They should strike the right balance between the individual’s right to defend him selves, and the state’s duty to give its people a safe environment which is devoid of gun violence. It is a political challenge which is to be tackled, by devising laws which incorporates the more relevant points presented by both the groups.
Brendan O'Neill (July 24th, 2012) The Telegraph. Traditionally, racists and reactionaries demanded gun control in America. Why have Leftists now joined in? Retrieved from http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/brendanoneill2/100172070/traditionally-racists-and-reactionaries-demanded-gun-control-in-america-why-have-leftists-now-joined-in/
Matt Gertz. (March 28, 2013) Fox Analyst's Attack On Gun Safety Ad Requires Lack Of Depth Perception. Retrieved from http://mediamatters.org/blog/2013/03/28/fox-analysts-attack-on-gun-safety-ad-requires-l/193334
Washington times. (September 24, 2013) VIDEO: Emily Miller speaks at Heritage Foundation about her book ‘Emily Gets Her Gun’ Retrieved from
John Lott. (April 09, 2013) Fox News. Fact vs. fiction on background checks and the gun control debate. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/04/09/fact-vs-fiction-on-background-checks-and-gun-control-debate/
Kim Severson. (September 27, 2013) The New York Times. Guns at School? If There’s a Will, There Are Ways. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/28/us/guns-at-school-if-theres-a-will-there-are-ways.html?pagewanted=all
Michael A. Walsh (January 16, 2012) New York Post. The strange birth of NY’s gun laws. Retrieved from http://nypost.com/2012/01/16/the-strange-birth-of-nys-gun-laws/
Jacqueline Klimas. (September 20, 2013) Washington Times. Gun control laws less responsible for mass shootings than mental health care failure: poll. Retrieved from http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/sep/20/gun-control-laws-less-responsible-mass-shootings-m/
Scott Bland. (September 24, 2013) National Journal. Huge Majority Thinks Washington Can Reduce Gun Violence. Retrieved from http://www.nationaljournal.com/congressional-connection/coverage/huge-majority-thinks-washington-can-reduce-gun-violence-20130924
Richard Simon. (July 20, 2012) LA Times. Tighter gun control, come the calls; unlikely, D.C. watchers say. Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jul/20/nation/la-na-nn-colorado-shooting-gun-control-20120720
Jim Cavanaugh (July25, 2013) msnbc. Background checks aren’t gun control, they’re crime control. Retrieved from http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/07/25/background-checks-arent-gun-control-theyre-crime-control/
Tia Ghose. (September 20, 2013) Fox News. Areas with higher gun ownership rates have more firearms-related deaths, study find. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/09/20/more-guns-equal-more-deaths-study-finds/
Danny Hayes, (January 28, 2013). The Washington post. Why this gun control debate has been different. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/01/28/why-this-gun-control-debate-has-been-different/