Biting the bullet: The necessity of gun control
My first firearm was a Daisy Red Ryder 1938 BB gun, complete with child-sized safety goggles and a giant tin of BBs. I remember the precise moment my grandfather gave it to me—a minute after 10 a.m. on the morning of my fifth birthday—and how he leaned over and pointed out the various parts of the gun. At the time, each mechanism was a hypnotic thing of beauty, the burnished forearm band and the smooth-bore steel barrel calling out to me on some instinctual level. Maybe it was my “Kentucky-ness” making itself known, or perhaps I was just a strange child, but that gun instantly replaced my classic ’90s Razor scooter as my favorite gift of all time.
My first time using my BB gun was a little over a week later. My first hit was a rusty lima bean can. I was so excited by my success, I jumped up to hug my grandfather, accidentally aiming my beloved Daisy downward in the process…and my second hit became my right foot, which can still set off sensitive metal detectors to this day. Nevertheless, after a two-week break, I was back to shooting cans, finding great delight in that satisfying ping of metal on metal. Eventually, I moved on to “real” rifles and more difficult targets, stationary cans and bull’s-eyes becoming clay pigeons and ceramic plates flying through the air. While I was never much of a markswoman (or, more appropriately, markstween), I legitimately enjoyed myself on those outings during my awkward, early-middle-school years. It was cathartic but not necessarily in the way you would think—it wasn’t about venting one’s aggression on a misshapen clay skeet pigeon or the adrenaline rush of pulling the trigger but rather about meditation and focus.
But for all that it may be worth, this meditation and focus simply aren’t enough of a reason to justify lax gun and ammunition regulations. While a good majority of those purchasing guns may be doing so for wholesome recreational purposes, a significant portion of those with access to firearms do abuse them. It seems that a day doesn’t go by without news of gun violence, whether it be 2007’s horrific Virginia Tech massacre, last year’s tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting or last week’s Navy Yard mass murder. In each of these scenarios, a person of questionable mental state was able to access one or more firearms through various means, from purchasing one at a supply store to raiding a family member’s gun cabinet.
While firearm distributors and owners cannot be held entirely responsible for the actions of whoever happens to be pulling the trigger, there needs to be increased regulation of gun distribution and continued inspection of the weapons after purchase. However, these policies should not be so strict as to eliminate the selling and usage of firearms as—much like what Prohibition in the 1920s did to the popularity of alcohol—that would only benefit the illegal weapons trade and rob the governments of a viable source of taxation. For example, in order to purchase a gun, one should be required to undergo a longer waiting period and more thorough background check. In addition to this, the government should increase taxation on ammunition, a notion that was introduced to Congress last month as a part of the Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act. Despite the moderate stance of this proposed bill, hard-line proponents of Second Amendment rights have been up in arms over any further infringement on gun freedoms, even if it may prevent gun-related crime.
However, is being able to go out and shoot a clay pigeon or flying plate worth another human life? If increased regulation of firearms and other related weaponry is able to save the life of even one person, placing limitations on the Constitution-given right to bear arms is worth it.