School shootings have unfortunately become an all-too-common occurrence lately and calls into question the right to bear arms outlined in the Bill of Rights.
Not only confined to educational campuses, the amount of firearm-related violence in the U.S. can hardly be overlooked, and begs the question of whether we need to give up our Second Amendment Right to bear arms for our own security?
Actions of a few should not provide sufficient cause for the suspension of a fundamental right outlined by the founding fathers of our country. However, I do want to be able to go about my business on campus every day and feel safe.
The original intention of the Second Amendment was to provide a source of armaments to standing militias after the Revolutionary War. As the days of Redcoats and flintlocks waned, however, guns have become less of a necessity of protection and more of a facet of society.
Today, firearms are portrayed in movies, TV and video games as being glorious, glamorous or noble. Whether it’s John Wayne with his six-shooter pistols blazing, or any of the numerous characters in the popular “Grand Theft Auto” games blasting his way through a metropolitan city, guns have become less of a necessity and more of a fashion statement.
Proper firearm education has slowly been replaced by false confidence, respect usurped by recklessness. The more that we, as a society, neglect to acknowledge the dangerous potential of firearms, the more unfortunate tragedies we will be forced to face.
In order to ensure our safety in an ever-increasingly unpredictable world, we may have to learn to allow some of our rights to be restricted for a greater cause – not abandoning personal ownership of firearms but rather a system of restriction based on awareness.
Too often guns find their way into the hands of younger adults and children. Statistics from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives show adults ages 18 to 24 were associated with 32 percent of recovered gun crimes. Youth ages 17 and younger contributed with another 7 percent.
Unfortunately, guns are easy for anyone to get through trade in various legal and illegal markets. Gifts, thefts and purchases on the street are all means by which criminals can easily lay their hands on a weapon.
In criminal cases where both the purchaser of the firearm as well as the possessor during the crime was identified, 91 percent of the possessors were not the purchasers, according to the ATF. Likewise, according to a Bureau of Justice survey in 1997, 80 percent of inmates in for gun possession got their guns from family, friends, a street buy or an illegal source.
When a firearm changes hands, it is often without re-registering that firearm with the government. Aside from fingerprint and DNA data left on a firearm, the main way for authorities to find the owner of a firearm is through tracing the registration on the firearm.
Because many firearms involved in crimes have changed hands, a criminal can easily escape suspicion for a crime if the firearm is not registered to him or her and the criminal manages to keep DNA evidence off of the weapon.
Firearm control is still a very hotly-contested issue. According to the Bureau of Justice, gun crimes have decreased significantly since 1993. However, situations such as the shooting at Northern Illinois University still occur.
Unfortunately for the students at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois, and many other campuses, it is too late to take action against the dissemination of firearms. However, through restriction and control, we may be able to prevent any further tragic shootings from happening.
Kyle Hummel is a freshman radio-TV-film major from Philadelphia.