Could revising the second amendment offer a solution to gun violence?

Grace Price, Reporter

A heated debate is currently sweeping through the United States over how to handle gun laws. With deadly shootings transitioning from rare to almost daily, many agree that the entire aspect of bearing arms publicly should be revisited. Additionally, it has become all too common for pro-gun supporters to cite the second amendment as their defense for having the right to open carry. However, the implementation of that amendment was 228 years ago, and since then it has become severely misinterpreted. The intended message of the second amendment seems to apply more directly to the well-regulated militia aspect rather than simply the right for people to keep guns on their person. Many historians who have extensively studied the amendment’s true purpose found that it was geared towards protection against tyranny after the Revolutionary War; however, it was also common that scholars believed it was also insinuating a right to keep guns in the home so as to protect themselves and exercise their individual rights. Either way, this heavy debate over the amendment’s meaning demonstrates how much it actually does need to be revised and clarified.

Based on statistics of gun accidents and shootings in the United States this year, with over 380 alone being classified as “mass,” it should be obvious that something does need to change. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been over 36,000 gun-related deaths this year. To put this in perspective, it’s helpful to compare this number to that of deaths from car accidents. People go through multiple bouts of training and testing to be able to drive, and the average driver uses their car for transportation 2.2 times daily, or 70 billion hours yearly. For all that time this year, car accidents caused roughly 40,000 deaths this year. Cars are used daily and are seen as essential to daily life, guns are not necessary for daily life, and they cause close to the same amount of deaths annually. The second amendment was put in place to protect, but it seems obvious they do more of the opposite when given to the general public.

However, with these skyrocketing statistics it is unsurprising that people would want to have a gun in their home to protect their families. Realistically, it isn’t possible to take back every gun already in the hands of the public. Outlawing them completely, unfortunately, won’t solve the problem; however, I believe that gun laws do need rectifying, so I would propose increased screenings and mental health checks before selling, as well as instructional classes and lengthy wait periods between the date of purchase and the date of receiving the gun. 

The argument of gun violence is tricky though because there are always exceptions. Teenagers involved in shootings usually take a parent’s weapon. How can authorities ensure they are properly stored away in the privacy of someone’s home? Additionally, someone could be in a safe state of mind to buy it at one point, and then use said gun when they’re not. One possible solution could be increased screenings for people who own a gun, but then again, who could be trusted to do these checks? According to the Washington Post, over 850 gun-related deaths were at the hands of police. 

Another important aspect to this debate is, of course, school shootings. According to Everytown Research, there were 96 instances of discharged guns at schools this year, and according to CNN, 45 school shootings which resulted in injury or death. Most commonly, they are committed by teenagers that attend or previously attended the school being targeted. One proposed solution was the arming of teachers, though there are many reasons why this is a poor option. Teachers are already swimming in safety responsibilities, and during a shooting their priority is the students, not grabbing a gun and trying to take a life. Conversely though, there are many teachers and many classrooms to be taken care of. While yes, many schools have officers on campus, it isn’t possible for them to be in every part of the building at once. So, perhaps giving teachers non-lethal weapons like tasers could be a solution? This provides a way to stun any sort of attack in the classroom without invoking death unnecessarily. Police officers use tasers for the same reason. If a teacher could stun a perpetrator, it could provide more time for the actual officer on campus to reach the area of attack. Additionally, there would be no real downside to increasing law enforcement on school campuses. Other ideas include metal detectors and clear backpacks, but just like every solution proposed, these are met with controversy.

On the contrary, there are reasons many people defend guns 100%. Arguments include the exercising of their rights, protection or retaliation during a shooting incident, using guns for sport or hunting, and general protection in the home. Though, when looking at the reasons they are harmful, doesn’t the amount of lives lost outweigh the entertainment aspect? Saving lives of innocent people is more valuable than a sport or game. Additionally, it is possible to exercise a person’s rights without weaponry which dangers other people’s lives. If law enforcement does their job, there’s not really need for guns in the home anyway. Their job is to protect, that’s not the responsibility of the public; however, it is understandable why people why want to protect themselves, and also understandable why people want to protect their freedoms. Wasn’t that the point of the Bill of Rights in the first place?

So, it begs the question, what can be done? While there is no perfect solution for anyone, perhaps stricter requirements for obtaining guns, more frequent checks and retesting for gun owners, better securing of guns in the home, increased officers on campuses, etc., can at least chip away at the problem a little bit. While yes, it is obvious that any changes made will anger people, sacrifices have to be made for safety. If someone really cares about having a gun that much, they’ll put up with some occasional restesting. Doing nothing fixes nothing. Sitting idly and continuing to let people die everyday is outrageous. Revisiting what laws and regulations that already exist, and are no longer applicable to where the country is now, is a good first step.