October 9, 2015

GROSKAUFMANIS | The Second Amendment

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By JACQUELINE GROSKAUFMANIS

Millions of words have been devoted to analyzing, defending and criticizing this country’s relationship to firearms and the ownership of them. But despite the directions that contemporary conversations take, these millions of words always seem to be at the mercy of only 27, otherwise known as the Second Amendment.

Last week I wrote a piece on free speech looking into the fabric of the First Amendment. No part of me anticipated discussing its follower. However, two days later, on October 1, a shooter opened fire at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, killing 10 and injuring seven. To avoid giving unnecessary attention to the shooter and his unquestionably sick actions, I want to look at this in a broader scope, particularly in the way that we collectively react to such tragedies. The fact that there even is a broader scope when discussing mass shootings is a problem in itself. If something like this is happening frequently enough for us to have an almost formulaic response to it, we know we have a huge issue on our hands.

People argue that Obama and other liberals capitalize on these tragedies by “politicizing” them in a way that advances their agendas. However, I would argue that it is equally political to suggest that an appropriate response is to mourn the loss and enact zero change, essentially waiting around for another tragedy and more losses to mourn. In the case of revising gun control laws, passivity is still a form of action, and it speaks volumes about our nation’s priorities and dogged mentality. To suggest that these events indicate that something must change is not political, but common sense — as Obama said in his speech, when we see a problem like a pothole in the road, we are prone to fix it. He then pointed out an inconsistency in this pattern when our country approaches gun control laws. Obviously this issue is less straight-forward than an issue regarding infrastructure, but the notion that we must fix what is broken is still very relevant in this case.

The rhetoric surrounding gun control laws in the United States is stuck in cyclic groupthink. There is a strong “them against us” mentality coming from both liberals and conservatives and as a result, the option to compromise has grown increasingly narrow. We need to start a conversation as a nation. Responsible gun owners who recognize problems in law must identify themselves and voice their opinions. Extreme minority groups have been misrepresenting advocates on both sides to the point where people have begun to wrongly equate gun ownership with inflexibility and more gun control laws with total prohibition. According to the speech given by Obama on the day of the shooting, the country is in general consensus, with a majority of people polled agreeing that we need more gun control laws, including law-abiding gun owners. It’s that simple.

We are an advanced nation, and one that puts an enormous emphasis on our personal liberties. Because of this emphasis, it makes sense that we so adamantly protect the Second Amendment. And while I do see the merit to that side of the argument, I imagine it’s also hard to pursue personal liberties when you show up to an elementary school, a college or the movie theater one day and are confronted with murder — whether your own or the traumatic witness of others’. At what cost are we willing to defend our rigidity? I’m not arguing for elimination of guns, nor are most liberal advocates. What I am arguing for is recognition of a problem and at minimum, a modest solution.

Our generation has grown up with lock down drills and the reality that schools and movie theaters are not necessarily safe places. While we are not the first to experience these tragedies, we are the first to experience them with such regularity and with such constant exposure to them via media. Maybe someday when our generation has shifted into office, we’ll have an unfortunately seasoned perspective with which to give the movement for more gun control laws some more momentum. In the meantime, people in Washington seem to be waiting.

No more names, no more cities, no more schools or movie theaters. No more telling us to “hug our families a little tighter tonight.” Because what happens tomorrow?

Jacqueline Groskaufmanis is a freshman English and Government major in the College of Arts & Sciences. Aside from writing for The Sun, she enjoys following international affairs, reading good books and hanging out with her English cocker spaniel. Her posts appear on alternate Tuesdays this semester. She can be reached at jag427@cornell.edu.

16 thoughts on “GROSKAUFMANIS | The Second Amendment

  1. “a modest solution”

    Okay… specifically and with detail, give a modest solution that will actually DO something of value other than make you ffffeeeelllll ggggoooodddd. Start with the fact that virtually every mass shooter you can name either passed a background check or obtained his firearms illegally with no regard to following an already existing law.

  2. Your Liberal slant is enough to convey your position, along with all the other liberal leaning media sources, which are presently all plotting their next move to push gun control.

    The gross part about this “article” is…..you never address the real issues, along with the rest of the MSM.

    One final thought……..how many people die in this country from traffic accidents? have we banned cars yet?

    How many adults are grossly over weight in this country? Have we banned food yet?

    How many abortions are committed every year under the guise of “women’s health”? Over 300,000/year….This one I will answer.

    If you want to make your point, at least be honest about it.

  3. What compromise has the anti gun terrorists ever given in exchange for gun control….

    They don’t pay for anything…

    They only blame lawful gun owners for the violence and provide no proof….

    They don’t propose laws that only affect the criminals….

    They don’t enforce the existing laws…

    Mature adults compromise….

    Anti gun terrorists don’t do anything…

    Hence anti gun terrorists are neither mature, and are inherently selfish in refusing to pay their fair share ….

    Why would anyone same want to compromise with such immature, arrogant immature anti gun terrorists….

  4. Stop me if I get this wrong…

    There are already 20,000+ laws on the books restricting who may have what firearm, where and how it may be had, and (most importantly) what that costs in dollars and cents, yet you think there needs to be MORE laws? What’s that old canard about insanity and doing the same thing over and over?

    Let me offer you a few easily provable datapoints:

    One: the majority of the people ‘out there’ (as viewed from an ivory tower) are good people. Those who take the time and expend the effort to get a concealed weapons permit are even better: if we consider only those who have obtained concealed carry licenses, we find that they are something like seven times LESS likely than the general population to be arrested for anything. They are, in fact, more law-abiding than the police as a class. Yet most proposals I hear would go far towards disarming this population in a quixotic effort to disarm some other class.

    Two: it is impossible to prevent crime absent a thoroughgoing police state wherein everything that is not mandatory is forbidden. We cannot afford enough police to have one already at the scene of a crime when that crime is about to happen and who is ready to prevent the crime. Utopia has never been an option. What’s left is for us to hope that there will be someone good nearby when something bad happens. Let’s be blunt: evil people will do evil things, crazy people will do crazy things, stupid people will do stupid things. Any solution to this problem cannot — CANNOT — involve making it impossible for good people to do good things. Alas, that is where each new attempt to DO SOMETHING invariably points us.

    Three: The gun-owning community has had it with blatantly ineffective proposals. CT passed a draconian ban on ‘assault weapons’ and have gotten an underwhelming 15% compliance rate; 85% of (heretofore law-abiding) CT gun owners have decided that if they are to be felons, they will be the very best felons they can be. In New York it’s worse; their compliance rate with the NYSAFE act is reputed to be 10%. That game is over. Thank you for playing.

    You know there is only one way out of the ‘gun-free zone’ where so many innocents die at the hands of the deranged, don’t you? It may have sounded like a good idea, but your Utopian dream has become a dystopian nightmare. Wakey wakey.

  5. Since you recently wrote an article on the First Amendment, Jacqueline, you must know that the “people” referenced in that amendment are the same as the “people” referenced in the Second Amendment.

    And just as “prior restraint” is impermissible when restricting First Amendment rights so it is when the Second Amendment is concerned.

  6. When it comes to fundamental rights, there can BE no compromise, and that is not a radical position to take.

    Here’s how any gun control debate should go:

    “We need common sense gun safety laws.”

    “No.”

    “But…”

    “No.”

    “How about if we…”

    “No.”

    “But we have to…”

    “No.”

    “Is that all you can say? NO?”

    “Yes.”

  7. Re: “I’m not arguing for elimination of guns, nor are most liberal advocates”

    In 1976 a gentleman by the name of Nelson Shields said the following “The first problem is to slow down the increasing number of handguns being produced and sold in this country. The second is to get handguns registered. And the final problem is to make the possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition – except for the military, policemen, licensed security guards, licensed sporting clubs, and licensed gun collectors – totally illegal.” Nelson Shields was one of the founders of Handgun Control Inc which is better known under their current “re-branded” name as The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. In 1987 another gentleman by the name of Josh Sugarmann said regarding so called assault weapons “The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.” In 1988 in response to an NRA comment about criminals always being able to get handguns he also said “The NRA is Right: But We Still Need to Ban Handguns”. On 11/4/99 he said in a NYT interview “A gun-control movement worthy of the name would insist that President Clinton move beyond his proposals for controls — such as expanding background checks at gun shows and stopping the import of high-capacity magazines — and immediately call on Congress to pass far-reaching industry regulation like the Firearms Safety and Consumer Protection Act introduced by Senator Robert Torricelli, Democrat of New Jersey, and Representative Patrick Kennedy, Democrat of Rhode Island. Their measure would give the Treasury Department health and safety authority over the gun industry, and any rational regulator with that authority would ban handguns. Real gun control will take courage. In the long run, half-measures and compromises only sacrifice lives.” Josh Sugarmann is currently the head and founder of the Violence policy Center and was one of the founders of The Coalition to Ban Handguns which is better known under their current “re-branded” name as The Campaign to Stop Gun Violence. While the names and tactics of these organizations may have changed, the goals and a lot of the personnel remain the same.

    Also, more recently, we have Senator Diane Feinstein

  8. Re: “common sense”

    In 1934, 1938, 1968, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1993 and 1994 I suspect similar arguments were made for “common sense” when more restrictive federal gun laws were passed. Since all of the regulations derived from these laws are apparently not enough, maybe you can understand the reluctance of gun owners to entertain the idea of quietly accepting the any more. The problem is the real agenda of the people leading the charge for more gun control is to ban all guns except for the government and governments (unlike individuals) have the track record for killing people that don’t agree with them. This is really just about using relatively infrequent, isolated incidents of gun violence to whip lawmakers into an emotional frenzy to goad them into quickly advancing the agenda of gun control irrespective of any facts in more incremental “progressive” steps in order to set a new baseline and move the goal posts to the point where an unscrupulous government would have the option to do what ever they please.

  9. Re: “At what cost are we willing to defend our rigidity?”

    Good question. According to the CDC in 2010 there were about 11078 people murdered by firearms in the US which works out to about 31 people per day. These are the “word doctored” figures the news media and anti-gun folks like to publicize because people relate to the magnitude of those numbers and it sounds like a lot of people until you realize this is out of a population of 310 million Americans. In that context, it works out to about 1 person out of every 28,000 people being murdered by a firearm. Dwell on the magnitude of your individual significance next time you are in a stadium with 28,000 people. To me, 1 in 28,000 is an acceptable cost to help ensure the security of a free state and the right to own a firearm that has harmed no one. It is also estimated there are 70 million gun owners in the US which means on any given day 69,999,969 gun owners didn’t kill anyone yet because the news media magnifies these relatively isolated and infrequent events to the level of an epidemic, the anti-gun folks answer is to take the guns away from people who harmed no one. The number of homicides with a firearm will never be zero. So given the fact that deranged individuals and murderers are an intrinsic part of the human race and we currently live in a free society, what number would ever satisfy you to the point you would say “we don’t need any more restrictions on the private ownership of firearms”?

  10. Re: “with a majority of people polled agreeing that we need more gun control laws, including law-abiding gun owners.”

    Please provide a link to these polls that also includes the wording of the questions that were asked

  11. Re: “we are prone to fix it”

    Here are some fixes you could implement. Start enforcing the laws already on the books by not allowing people who use a gun illegally to plea bargain away the illegal firearms offense. The federal government is especially guilty of this. Straw purchases and lying on the 4473 form you have to fill out for a background check to purchase a firearm is a felony punishable by 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine – yet in 2010 76142 people failed the background check, 4732 were deemed worthy of prosecution and only 62 were prosecuted. Another thing you can do is because a lot of the gun violence involves repeat offenders or gangs is to advocate for a law to impose a mandatory death sentence on any recidivist with a violent criminal history that uses a firearm to commit a crime regardless of childhood upbringing, economic impoverishment, mental health, age, IQ or ethnicity.

  12. You mentioned schools being unsafe. The schools are unsafe because we refuse to make them safe. This would be very easily done.

  13. compromise?.. i havent heard anyone attempt compromise, for the socialists its their way or no way.. what do we get out of their idiotic ideas?

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