The gun control debate: which side are you on?

Last week, gun control advocates received more ammunition for their fight against what many believe is an American right, and what is laid in stone in the Bill of Rights as the second amendment. There is another surge with the battle cry: how many more mass shootings until we see some change? Why can’t there be background checks? Why can’t there be a change to the amendment? They believe that it is the governments responsibility to keep Americans safe, and by letting guns get in the hands of mentally unstable individuals so easily, the government is endangering lives across the country. You have comparisons to countries like England and Australia, who cut down on gun use after mass shootings, and saw results.

Then, you have the other side of the coin, who believe the war is not on guns, but on the inability of the government to address mental illness in America, and provide these people care. This group believes that there is a reason that “right to bear arms,” is right behind the freedom of speech in the Bill of Rights, and that is because it is intrinsic to what America stands for to be able to protect yourself. The most important aspect of this amendment is that it is to be able to protect yourself from an oppressive government. A quick reminder of US history-America fought for independence from a government they believed did not value the individual, and to make sure this would not happen again, wrote in a law that ensured if somehow the US government started to infringe on human liberties again, the people would have the ability and the right to take up arms against their oppressors and fight for freedom.

While this may seem like an outrageous claim in an environment where there is still the right to vote and Americans can live the way the Founding Fathers intended them to be able to live (life, liberty, pursuit of happiness), there is always a chance that there could be a change, and if that is the case, Americans want the ability to fight back.

So here, we have the crutch of the argument and what the whole debate is really about: fear and human rights.

For those against the use of guns, they say there can be a compromise with regulations. These regulations, which would limit amount of ammunition allowed for purchase based on occupation, background checks, and speculation if you really even need a gun, and therefore an ability to purchase one or not, is thought to be a way to limit gun use, but not illuminate it completely so those who need a gun for work purposes or recreational use can have one. From the fear that there is a possibility for more innocent lives to be taken from the mass shooting of a madmen, this group believes that this is a fair compromise. They also believe that it is a human right to be alive and not die from someone’s capability to go to the local store, buy a gun, and murder innocent people.

On the other side of the coin, they hear the word regulation, and believe that this will slowly take away this right to bear arms. For those who distrust the government, they fear that this will be the first step in taking away guns all together. Furthermore, they look at areas where gun use for murders is most rampant, and in those places (like Chicago), guns are illegal. Instead, they advocate for the safety of using a gun, and believe that for those crazy enough to want to commit a mass shooting, they will still be able to find a gun and do the same act regardless of the regulations. And if this does happen, they believe it is their right to protect themselves from that madman. Their fear is that once the second amendment is amended, their human right to bear arms will slowly start to slip away, and they will lose the only protection they believe they have from the government and from someone who tries to do them harm.

So there are two choices, as you can only have heads or tails when flipping a coin. Do you implement some regulations with the hope to prevent further shootings, with the risk that these regulations will not work and instead there will just be more government involvement in people’s personal lives? Or, do you look at mental health as the issue instead of guns, and put money into creating facilities with adequate care, and crack down on those who do own guns illegally, and hope that this prevents future shootings?

There is a reason that this question is not easy to answer. In a democracy, it should be the people who decide. Which side of the coin would you choose?