Opposing Viewpoints: strict gun control reform must happen

Shaefer Bagwell makes the case that new gun control regulations do not actually violate our Constitutional right to bear arms.

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John Buchanan/THE CHIMES

Shaefer Bagwell, Writer

As I sat down to write this article, I began to struggle. I am supposed to write an article for “Opposing Viewpoints” about gun control. For the first time in my career at this newspaper, I realized that I didn’t know what I wanted to say. It’s not that I don’t have opinions about guns. It’s not that I don’t have arguments to support those opinions. I just don’t know where to start. I have to keep this article to 650 words, and I have a 3,000 word article in my head.

Here’s the thing: I am not anti-gun. I go shooting at a range about twice every break. Hanging from my keychain is a nine millimeter round that my friend gave me the first time I went shooting. I have no problem with safe, responsible gun ownership. Shooting for sport is perfectly acceptable. Owning a firearm for personal protection is a good thing.

What I have a problem with is the idea that hunters need armor-piercing bullets to hunt deer. If you’re going to hunt, a normal round will down the beast just fine. In fact, the argument could be made that you’re being downright unsporting if you’re using a hollow-point bullet to shoot animals. People have been hunting for thousands of years with bows and arrows. If you can’t bring down a buck with a .223, you need to find a different hobby.

I have a problem with the idea that a man needs an AK-47 to protect his home. Judging from the firepower of a .357 revolver — if you’ve never fired one, it can knock you over — it’ll put a hole in the guy robbing your house or mugging you in an alley just fine.

I have a problem with the idea that the Constitution guarantees citizens the right to own whatever and whichever and however many guns that they want. Here’s the text of the amendment: “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.” The very beginning of the amendment provides an explicit mandate for the regulation of firearms.

I have a problem with gun owners who keep a loaded pistol in an unlocked drawer when there are children or people with mental instability in the house with them. As we’ve seen in countless cases of children bringing those guns to school or in the case of the Newtown shooting, wherein the shooter brought his mother’s unlocked guns to Sandy Hook Elementary, this tragic oversight can have disastrous consequences.

I have a problem with the fact that the gun lobby — namely, the NRA — has bullied Congress into making it impossible for the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agency to create a national database of gun owners in order to track who owns what. I have a problem with the fact that the gun lobby has tried its very hardest to eliminate waiting periods for firearms purchases.

Regulation of sale and purchase can and would bring down the number of illegal firearms on the street. There aren’t massive underground factories churning out weapons for gangsters. Criminals get them from somewhere. If we enable our law enforcement to effectively do their jobs by tracking and regulating the flow of firearms from manufacture to sale, it would decrease the number of weapons that end up in the hands of the criminals.

Lastly, I have a problem with those who claim that to effect gun regulation is unconstitutional, despotic or tyrannical. If one looks at the reforms being proposed, no one is trying to take away your guns. Are they trying to make you wait three days before you buy one? Yes. Are they trying to make it so that you can’t put thirty rounds of ammunition in the air without needing to pause to reload? Absolutely. Explain to me how that’s despotic or violative of the Constitution, and I’ll eat my words.

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