By Nicholas Riebel || Staff Writer
There is plenty of debate over whether the attack on San Bernardino was an act of Islamic extremism or not. As of this typing, it seems that the shooters may have been inspired by Islamic extremists, but we are not completely sure (http://lat.ms/1ToqvJ) . What is certain, or at least what should be certain, is that our system of gun control is broken.
Back in the colonial days, the days of pilgrims and the conquest and extermination of Native Americans, gun control regulation was understandably much more lax. These were the days when villages could be raided, or colonists could be attacked by hungry wolves. These were the days when people often needed a gun just to hunt and get food themselves and their family.
Fast-forward a few centuries, however, and this is not the case. Most people do not need guns to acquire their next meal. While one could argue that people may still want a gun for self defense, I argue that this is much less the case now than in the past. One advantage of a having a strong, centralized government is that the state can more easily protect its people, and so the people are less dependent on themselves for their own protection.
It is important to acknowledge that we are dependent on society. It is sad that in the 21st century, when we supposedly believe in science and reason, some people still pine for the “good old days” when one could make it on one’s own. Yet this romanticism of the past is often inaccurate. Often when we revere people who try to “go it alone” or stress their individualism we neglect to recognize the harm this can bring to others. These people include parents who refuse to vaccinate themselves, people who choose to cling to personal beliefs that bring pain and misery to others, people who refuse to send their children to school, or people who deny or ignore global warming. Or, people who refuse to accept the reality that we need stronger gun control.
Indeed, some advocates of gun control argue that just the term “gun control” has become too politically unpopular, and argue that one should use “gun safety” instead (http://econ.st/21CkQoO). But, often those on the conservative side are even able to make terms such as “progressive” (progress) and pro-choice (choice) sound scary and unpalatable to many in the electorate. How long before they turn “gun safety” into a phrase common-sense politicians cannot say? This is similar to the debate of whether to use “global warming” or “climate change.” It seems that the opposing side twists the issue no matter the wording, so I believe the wording is less significant.
But for this, no one should be at odds with me. Your right to own a gun will not be affected by gun control or safety legislation, unless it is found that you genuinely should not have a gun. It is that simple. The Second Amendment does not give everyone the right to have a gun and potentially endanger all of society, which we see happening in these frequent mass shootings.
We need gun control in the form of common sense measures such as screening and background checks, so that people who deserve to have a gun are allowed to have one, and people who don’t will not be allowed near them. This is just the beginning, though, of all the possible safety proposals that could increase the safety of gun use. I will say this: if absolutely nothing else, the NRA and their conservative Republican backers will be judged by history for their inaction on this issue.
Junior Nicholas Riebel is a staff writer. His email is nriebel@fandm.