Opinion: Reframing the gun debate

Maddie Newingham

Maddie Newingham

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Let’s dissect this, the phrasing of the Second Amendment, and evaluate what sensible gun control actually means.

First, the National Rifle Association does not discuss the militia portion of the amendment, and here’s why:

When the Second Amendment was written, we had no army. The fear behind this amendment was that the United States could not defend itself against foreign forces without a serving body, nor, could it defend itself against a government that went rogue if they wanted to abolish a government working against the interests of the people. It was not for people to own mass numbers of guns that are just fun to own.

Secondly, a well-regulated militia means gun ownership can and must be regulated for the sake of law and order.

We regulate every industry. Compare guns to heroin, planes or cigarettes. The one which is meant to shoot and kill is the least regulated.

There is a difference between an argument for having guns to hunt, and the argument to have semi-automatic or automatic rifles. No civilian needs a weapon capable of murdering hundreds of people in 10 minutes, no matter how fun that gun is to shoot.

Now, onto gun laws. No single person is arguing to abolish the Second Amendment and take your weapons. No one is suggesting an Australian buy-back program. Here is what we want:

First, universal background checks, to fill in the gaps left by the gun show loophole.

I understand if you can currently get a gun without a background check may then cause an inconvenience for you moving forward, but as a society we adapt to laws for the purpose of safety.

I am aware this is not infallible. Thus, a mental health screening can fill in the missing questions unanswered by background checks. What if the Las Vegas shooter had been denied weapons due to this check? Or, what if even one single person is saved by mandating that you must be deemed mentally fit to own a gun?

In discussing mass shootings, we must also address the day-to-day gun violence in this country.

Most gun-related deaths are actually at the hand of suicide. Often, suicide is impulsive and facilitated by the availability of guns in this country, so what if we have waiting periods due to the background check and mental health screenings? Someone in that state of being will have time to re-evaluate ending his or her life.

We can no longer trust people who are mentally unfit to own a gun to make the right decision when buying a gun. But, that is exactly why we have laws — when it is clear that decisions will not be made responsibly by people.

But, when Congress has failed to act in response to innocent children being shot and murdered, members of Congress themselves being shot and white people, their main voter block, being shot, then there is no hope in the current context surrounding the dialogue on gun ownership.

How many people must die to reframe the gun debate and pass common sense laws?

Maddie Newingham is a columnist. Contact her at [email protected].