I Survived The Las Vegas Shooting. This Is How I Feel About Gun Control.

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I Survived The Las Vegas Shooting. This Is How I Feel About Gun Control.

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As a mass shooting survivor, history teacher, political science degree holder, and born and raised American, I feel fairly qualified to discuss the gun issue. You might disagree. But I implore you to read this all the way to the end before you dismiss it and return to your echo chamber where none of your pre-conceived notions are challenged. I promise to present you with facts and reasoned arguments. 

All of your arguments rejecting gun control are wrong, except one. 

1. The 2nd amendment protects your individual right to own any gun. The founding fathers wanted you to have the right to own guns.

No. In the Summer of 1787, our founding fathers met in Philadelphia to fix the failures of the Articles of Confederation that served as our first government following independence from Britain. However, they quickly realized a whole new plan was needed and their meeting became the Constitutional Convention.

That summer they fought and argued over some very key issues — at the heart of which was a concern about state versus federal powers. At the time, our 13 states acted as individual countries, not as one united nation. There was extreme concern that if states gave up their power to an over-arching federal government, their rights and freedoms would be lost. They had just kicked off their national rulers wearing red coats and symbols of the crown.

The Anti-Federalists argued that the Constitution as presented and signed in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787 was flawed because it did not contain a Bill of Rights. To secure ratification, the Federalists agreed to quickly draft one and add amendments to address their concerns; the heart of which was still state powers and state rights. 

Thus, the 2nd amendment was born along with 9 others addressing individual and state rights. 

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.”

A national standing army, like the British Red Coats in colonial days was the main concern. The Anti-Federalists believed the individual states needed the right to form state militias to defend themselves from a standing national army. States could not protect their rights from an overbearing national army if they could not bear arms. Thus the right for militias to form at the state level was clearly stated in the second amendment. The third amendment was another meant to restrict the overreach of a standing army. 

But also note that the second amendment includes the phrase “well regulated.” States were intended to maintain militias with restrictions and proper training. 

Militias are indeed made up of private citizens. But, even if I were to agree with you that it protects individual rights to own guns, why do you think that right is unlimited? Every other right has restrictions and limits.

2. We need guns to defend ourselves from the Federal government.

Good luck, Susan! This argument could be made about a century ago. You know, back when we all had basic rifles and muskets capable of shooting two or three bullets a minute. Then we were on par with our government and could conceivably defend ourselves or rebel if our government became overly corrupt or oppressive. 

The reality is that our government has drones, tanks, fighter jets, nuclear warheads, MOABs, and fully-automatic guns just to name a fraction of the items in their arsenal. If somehow our government decided to turn on the people (this would take soldiers, airmen, marines and sailors turning on their own family and friends), there would be absolutely nothing we could do about it. They’d laugh at you with your AR-15. It might keep you alive an extra 15 minutes, but is that worth it?

If you want me to believe our founding fathers (more than half of which didn’t even want to add a Bill of Rights) intended for you to have guns capable of firing 100 rounds in a minute or less, you must live on another planet.

3. Gun laws won’t work. Criminals don’t follow laws. 

Okay, with that reasoning we should have no laws. I mean, we have speed limits even though people break speed limits. I know it’s a paradox — but we have proof a thousand times over that good laws — universally administered and enforced — work! 

But, but…Chicago!! Yep–I’m sorry, but you’re wrong again. It just so happens that the states that neighbor Illinois have very lenient gun laws in comparison. It’s not hard to drive across the border and buy a gun extremely easily and bring it right back to Chicago. So again, we need UNIVERSAL STRICT gun laws in all 50 states. 

Laws work. Clearly we’ve all agreed about that since roughly the beginning of time otherwise we’d be living anarchy style, survival of the fittest still. We need good gun laws that are universally adopted and enforced in every corner of the USA. 

4. If we take away guns, only bad guys will have them. 

First, I am not advocating taking away all guns. A very minuscule percentage of people want that. I still think shot guns are great for home defense. My little revolver with 5 bullets is fine. An AR with 100 round clip? That’s not okay. I think further discussion on semi-automatics in general is worth taking up, but for the sake of this argument, please know that my focus is on the type of weapons that have almost always been chosen by mass shooters. 

So sure, criminals aren’t going to rush to the police stations to hand over their guns. BUT, we have one great example from Australia where they implemented a buy back that worked. Private citizens recognized that a horrible mass shooting wasn’t worth it and they turned in their semi-automatic guns voluntarily. It’s no surprise that they haven’t had another mass shooting since. Not one in over twenty years. Think about that!

We could implement a similar buy-back for assault rifles and components like bump stocks and high capacity clips. Then you make it a law that it is a felony with mandatory two years minimum jail time just to be in possession of these things moving forward.

Most people will decide this toy isn’t worth two years in jail. And who are we kidding, most street criminals aren’t running around with AR-15s and committing mass shootings. 

5. I need a gun to defend my home!

Sure Bob, I understand. But isn’t a shotgun sufficient? Do you really need an AR? I mean who’s first thought when they hear a weird noise at night is to grab up their assault rifle with 100 rounds and go Rambo on an intruder?

Besides, most intruders are breaking in to steal your TV. They aren’t breaking in to murder you! I mean unless you make those kind of enemies, most break-ins are to steal valuable items. When you go Rambo on that intruder you will just shoot holes in everything you own anyway. 

Oh, and if you have kids in your home, you need to keep your gun locked away. So then I ask what purpose it will serve? “Hold on, robber, let me go to my safe.” How about pay for a good security system and keep your doors locked instead? 

6. The problem isn’t guns, it’s lack of religion/parents not spanking their kids/bullies/violent video games/mental illness/insert ridiculous meme statement here.

This one probably bugs me the most. As a history teacher, I know the United States is exceptional in many ways. However, we are similar in many ways to most of the Western world. In fact, we’re actually quite a bit less progressive than they are. 

In most Western countries, religion is declining. Atheists and agnostics are the largest growing group in this region; Muslims are the largest growing in the rest of the world. Religion in our most comparable countries has been declining at roughly the same rate as here. Yet, we have this ridiculous mass shooting problem and they don’t.

It’s true that parenting has seen a shift from corporal punishment to a less punitive and more gentle model in America in the last two or three decades. But again, that’s true for our Western world friends, as well. In fact globally, 52 countries have actually outlawed spanking with the earliest anti-spanking laws passed in the 1970s. We are NOT one of the 52. Yet we have constant mass shootings, and they don’t.

Bullies: it’s true that school shooters usually have some history of being picked on. It’s also true that bullies exist everywhere. There isn’t a school in the world where kids never pick on each other or call names. Yet, we have multiple mass shootings in our schools every year and they don’t. 

It’s those damn violent video games. Yet again, those violent video games are played by kids all over the world. They have game consoles and the exact same violent shoot ’em up games there too. Even though a few countries have put restrictions on some games, studies show that violent video games do not correlate to an uptick in violence in society. Again, we alone have a major mass shooting problem and they don’t. 

And the big one: mental health. Guess what folks? Mental health problems affect people all over the world and roughly the same rates. To take it a step further, research indicates mentally ill people actually do not commit violent crimes. Pissed off people with nothing to lose, and access to killing machines commit mass shootings. Mental illness is everywhere, yet only we have a mass shooting problem. 

So while you may be sick of these comparisons, you have to ask yourself: what’s the difference? The difference is that we allow our citizens access to killing machines with little restriction. We let people buy rifles that hold 100 round magazines. We let 18 year old kids buy them.

7. I need a gun to hunt.

Totally agree. I know plenty of hunters. You do indeed need a gun to do that unless it’s archery season. But you don’t need a 100 round clip, right? I mean if you can’t kill a deer with one bullet you shouldn’t be a hunter. Sorry. 

8. They’ll just do it with knives or cars or bombs.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather take my chances with a guy with a knife than a guy with an AR-15. I’d also feel safer knowing the only mass casualty option was a bomb. It takes skill, planning, lots of materials and know-how to make a bomb that would successfully hurt and kill. Heck, we regulated a fertilizer used in bomb making after just one tragic incident in Oklahoma. We take off our shoes and practically get strip searched at the airport 17 years after one terrorist incident.

Yet we have weekly mass shootings and do nothing; but I digress. And as for cars. Yep, they could certainly be turned into weapons on the street. I still feel better with my kids sitting in a classroom with cars ramming into the building being my main concern. As for large crowds out in the open? I would still rather take my chances with a car than a man 400 yards away shooting at me with assault rifles with 100 round clips and bump stocks. Been there, done that. No thanks.

9. Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.

You’re absolutely right. That’s why I don’t want to make laws for guns to follow. I want to make laws for people. We don’t make laws for cars to follow. We make laws for drivers. People should be subjected to background checks for any gun sale. People should have to have a gun license earned after proper training and have to renew said license ever so often. People should have to register their guns by serial number — that alone will drop gun crimes. People need these restrictions because we know that a few rotten apples spoil the bunch. 

And the one argument my gun loving friends are right about…

Drum roll please….

10. I like my guns and I want to keep them. 

Yep, that’s it. No offense, but that is your only 100% true argument against new gun laws. Gun owners like their guns. It’s fun to go out to the desert or shooting range and fire off hundreds of rounds. It makes you feel powerful. It makes you feel cool. Guns give you a (false) sense of safety. 

So you know what? Keep some of them. Keep that shot gun. Non-semi-auto revolvers, keep them. Keep them locked up and safe from kids. Keep your hunting rifle — but with just a few bullets. Keep them. But don’t tell me you need a gun like was used in Sandy Hook, Columbine, Vegas, Pulse Nightclub, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, etc. Because you don’t need guns like that. You just want them.

Now it is up to us to decide if some peoples’ desire to have such high powered rifles, capable of shooting 100s in minutes because they want them, is worth innocent lives.