Written by: Leon Cheong
Given recent events, the gun control argument has become a warzone in itself. Members of the National Rifle Association (NRA) continue to vehemently defend their self-proclaimed duty as “diligent protectors of the Second Amendment.” Legislators, journalists and protesters, in the meanwhile, are crying out for a ban on “assault weapons.” They reprimand the NRA for promoting their own pro-gun agenda at the risk of innocent lives being more vulnerable at the hands of deranged gunmen. However, their proposal to issue an assault weapons ban is irrationally unfounded.
Granted, it may seem like common sense that the most straightforward solution to the gun crime problem is to ban civilian ownership of guns. However, the issue is in reality much more complicated than that. Gun control cannot be seen in such a black-and-white manner. Never mind the violation of the Second Amendment, making firearms illegal will not just magically eliminate gun crime. In a country where, according to a Jan. 28 issue of Time magazine, 49 percent of the population has a gun readily available in their household, reacquisition of civilian firearms would not only be costly and inconvenient, but would most likely be impossible. Even if such a program were put into effect, the only people who would comply with such a law would be law-abiding citizens. Guns are righteously used in self-defense over 180,000 times a year, according to Time. Clichés are true for a reason: gun control takes away guns primarily from good people who would otherwise be able to potentially protect others from those who would keep them. Criminals and gang members would have no reason to turn in their weapons, rendering innocents more vulnerable and less prepared in terms of self-defense.
Of course, members of Congress are not currently advocating for this action. As aforementioned, many instead call for an assault weapons ban, which they believe would effectively reduce the number of mass shootings. There are several problems with this line of thinking. For one, what determines an “assault weapon” is not even clearly defined. This ambiguous term could potentially encompass any weapon that could be used to “assault” someone. If gun control advocates were trying to push for an assault rifle ban, the parameters would be much more clear. But as it is, the legislation they are attempting to enact would label assault weapons very broadly and could potentially give more power to the government than needed.
Politicians are also taking the wrong approach when it comes to trying to quell gun violence. The argument is a classic example of people trying to regulate what they know little about. Still, the perception is understandable; it would make sense to try to restrict weapons engineered for the very purpose of harming someone. But the logistics of weapons tell a different story. On the issue of purely firearms, people are deceived as to which ones have more potential to cause harm. Right now, legislators are trying to ban primarily assault rifles, guns with high-capacity, automatic-fire capabilities. For the most part, they are leaving firearms like pistols and hunting rifles, which do not have the selective-fire option, alone. The trouble with this logic is that the latter is actually much more dangerous than the former. Hunting rifles such as the popular Remington 700, unlike automatic rifles, are designed to take down big game such as deer or elk, which are much heavier than humans. Many pistols are designed for similar purposes, such as the high-caliber Israeli Military Industries Mark I Desert Eagle. These guns can carry ammunition as heavy as 40 grams, which has the potential to tear a human being in half. On the other hand, the most common civilian rifle, the AR-15 M16 variant, carries 5.56mm NATO rounds that weigh in at about only four grams, ten times less than that of the Remington 700; if a human being were to be hit by this kind of bullet, survival would be much more likely.
Of course, this is not to say that the solution is for the government to start taking away every gun in sight. Rather, this demonstrates that many who advocate for heavy gun control are currently too uneducated about guns to make an appropriately calculated decision as to which types of firearms they should be restricting. Congress will not be ready to take another large step in gun reform until they consider all of the factors and come up with a well thought-out plan of action.