When tragic shootings like the one at Columbine High School in 1999 occur, the public immediately debates the subject of gun control. Recently, the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut have sparked the same controversy. On Dec. 14, 2012, 26 people were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. The devastating tragedy has struck a chord with the entirety of our nation. As a result, many questions are being raised. Does this recent massacre mean that there is a problem with current gun regulation? Should our Second Amendment rights to bear arms be reanalyzed to determine if it is appropriate in accordance with modern times? More importantly, does this elementary school massacre justify making the names and addresses of handgun permit holders public?
I do not believe so. But this is exactly the law that Connecticut’s state Representative Stephen Dargan hopes to implement, and this is just one of many pieces of legislation that will rouse argumentation between gun advocates and their critics. There are faults to the newly advocated bills, and when it comes to Representative Dargan’s newly introduced proposition, I take a firm stance on supporting the privacy of gun holders.
Eight bills supporting “more restrictions and tougher laws on those who own, sell, or want to own firearms” were introduced to Congress on Thursday, Jan. 3, said USA Today. Like Dargan, political representatives are becoming wary of the United States’ right to bear arms and are beginning to believe that the answer to shootings, like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary, can be solved with tougher regulations on firearms. Representative Carolyn McCarthy has proposed the High Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act, which would ban “the sale or transfer of ammunition magazines holding more than ten rounds,” according to CBS News. Fox News reports that Connecticut State Senator Martin Looney, for instance, would like to make it illegal for anyone convicted of a felony or misdemeanor from buying bullets. Stricter propositions are not the answer, especially if one is aiming to ban just the ammunition. Similarly to McCarthy and Looney, Dargan is taking steps in the wrong direction.
Americans want to feel secure and protected in their own homes. It is an American’s right
to feel protected behind a loaded gun. It is also their right to use a gun recreationally, meaning hunting or firing at a shooting range. Releasing information of gun permit holders is not a solution to future mass killings, and neither is banning the sale of ammunition for that matter. The Second Amendment may not specify a gun holder’s privacy rights, but I doubt that the nearly 180,000 handgun permit holders of Connecticut want their personal information to be made public. Parents probably don’t want criminals to find out where they can find a gun either, and if the names and addresses of gun permit holders are made public, they’ll know exactly where to go. Making information of various gun holders public is just another opportunity for the wrong person to get a hold of a weapon.
Members of Congress may simply be trying to make the acquisition of a gun or ammunition more difficult. The more difficult it is to obtain these things the more unlikely a mass shooting should be, right? Well, if someone wanted to purchase bullets, they would find a way to do so. If someone wanted to get their hands on a gun, they would also find a way to do so. Take, for instance, Adam Lanza, the killer of the 26 victims in Newtown. In accordance with the law he would not be the one whose information would be made public because he “went to the school with guns he took from his mother,” reports the Huffington Post. Adam’s mother would be the one whose name and address would be made public, not her son’s. Authorities could not have predicted that Mrs. Lanza’s son would have stolen her guns that morning and begun firing at innocent children at Sandy Hook Elementary, and the new proposition by Representative Dargan would not have stopped him. If a mentally disturbed person, or criminal of any sort, had the intention of procuring a weapon they will find a way to step outside of the bounds of the law. In this case, all Lanza had to do was go through his innocent mother, who spent her time obtaining her guns and ammunition legally.
Readers may believe that having greater restrictions on guns and ammunition is a solid way to cut down on gun violence. Less guns therefore less murders sounds like a rational assumption to make. However, in a country like Switzerland, famous for its neutrality in many wars and having one of the wealthiest economies, the opposite stance is taken. Aside from their wealth and peacefulness, there are 4.5 million guns present in a population of just 7.9 million. Granted, their population is smaller than that of the United States. Conversely, the nation’s gun related crime is amazingly low. By low, I mean almost none, with 0.5 gun homicides per 100,000 residents in 2010.
Here in the United States, debates rage on about how guns kill and representatives like Stephen Dargan are ready to make changes. But these changes may not be necessary. Citizens of Switzerland are not required to make anyone’s information public, even though almost every citizen has a gun in their household and there are virtually no gun-related murders. In fact, people are allowed to carry their weapons around in public and “kids as young as 12 years old belong to gun groups in their local communities, where they learn sharpshooting,” according to Time Magazine. Perhaps our nation should learn a lesson from the Swiss and develop a sense of pride for our weaponry, rather than viewing handguns and other firearms as solely deadly instruments. Congress needs to find a better solution.
Dargan seems to be proposing a law that practically accuses gun permit holders of probable future violent action. Some people are simply gun enthusiasts, not murderers. Like Lanza, criminals and murderers who intend on committing a mass murder will not do so in the confines of the law. They will also most likely premeditate their assault. Dargan has one thing right: the problem doesn’t lie with the weapon, but with the one who wields it. The only problem is that his proposed bill will ostracize respectable hobbyists and firearm aficionados, and possibly make them victims of possible robbery by those who plan on using their weapon for actual illegal activity.