Party People: Recent tragedies revive debate about gun control in the U.S.

Lax policies putting innocent Americans at risk

Recent events have undoubtedly proved that gun control laws are neither archaic nor distant to the American population. However, politicians on both sides of the aisle have avoiding making statements on the issue. Virginian Gov. Tim Kaine spoke out, saying that he hoped no one would “politicize the issue and try to instate gun control.” These silent politicians are ignoring an important issue of their time and putting their constituents after lobbying firms.

Many gun proponents say that people, not guns, cause these tragedies. This is simply not so, because if American gun culture mirrored the limited gun culture in other world societies, we would see a drastic drop in gun-related deaths as we can see in these foreign nations. In societies where gun control policies are in place, murders and massacres such as those at Virginia Tech and the Ward Parkway mall do not take place with such tragic frequency.

International attention has focused on America’s lax gun control in light of the Virginia Tech massacre. Australian Prime Minister John Howard said that Australia “took action to limit the availability of guns, and [Australia] showed a national resolve that the gun culture that is such a negative in the United States would never become a negative in [Australia].” Lax gun control is threatening to become yet another deterrent to successful foreign policy.

Over 14,000 people die each year in the U.S. because of domestic gun violence. When the founders of this republic amended the Constitution to protect the right to bear arms, it maintained the state’s right to retain a militia, not the rights of casual gun owners in the United States. This nation is dangerously balanced on a gun culture that more and more frequently highlights itself as a grave threat to the danger of innocent citizens.

Public policy drafted by the government is unduly influenced by the National Rifle Association, one of the most powerful lobbying firms in the nation. The association has been criticized for its lack of attention on gun safety and the accountability of gun owners. The lax gun control policies of the NRA are putting innocent Americans in danger.

Congress must realize that the United States will not be a truly safe country until the question of gun control has been successfully addressed.

– Samuel Huneke and Julia Barnard are co-presidents of Lawrence High School’s Young Democrats.

Banning weapons disadvantage to law-abiding citizens

The recent shootings at Virginia Tech and Ward Parkway Mall in Kansas City have made gun control a sensitive topic. Large-scale murders such as these are so violent and rare in occurrence that the public panics and decides to ban or regulate firearms to a larger extent. However, guns pose such a relatively small threat in comparison to other causes of death. According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, in 2004, 12,782 people between the ages of 1 and 24 died in motor vehicle accidents, while 4,372 people died of firearm-related homicide. Most of these deaths occurred off-campus and were gang-related. As high school students we are more worried about our peers dying while driving intoxicated than by firearm. If America does decide to cut down on firearm-related homicide, then we should clean up the streets and provide for more gang and drug counseling in public schools.

The reality is that banning firearms would not cut down on firearm homicides; they would just put law-abiding citizens at an even larger disadvantage for self-defense. Criminals would feel safer knowing that average citizens could not legally protect themselves, thus resulting in more violent crime. This is exemplified in Great Britain’s 1997 handgun ban. Two years following Great Britain’s handgun ban, violent crime rose 40 percent. If firearms were banned within the U.S., a black market for guns would continue to exist, and unstable people would not turn in their firearms.

Despite the small threat guns pose, banning weapons is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. It is much more important that we abide by our Constitution than place a ban on firearms. The founding fathers knew the importance of self-defense, and that is why the Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms. If legislators do dare to place a federal ban on firearms, they must go through the formal constitutional amendment process. An amendment such as this would never happen, as lawmakers wish to have the right to self-defense as well.

– Dan Bentley is president and Ted Olson is vice president of Lawrence High School’s Young Republicans.