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More stringent gun control laws unnecessary

by Rob La Gatta

The Capitol Hill massacre raised multiple questions: Who was gunman Kyle Huff, other than a Montanan recluse who fit the all-too-familiar bill of “an awkward and quiet guy who just snapped”? Is the rave community – and, more importantly, the population of Capitol Hill – at risk for future attacks?

But at the same time, Huff’s massacre has drawn the attention of those looking to sneak in and take advantage of a tragic situation. New debates have arisen discussing the possibility of reinstating the ridiculous, and now defunct, 1985 Teen Dance Ordinance, which required promoters of events to purchase $1 million in liability insurance and limit the ages of attendees. The question looms as to whether the rave scene, of which many victims of the massacre were a part, will be cracked down upon by the Seattle Police. Most importantly – and most alarmingly – local critics of the Second Amendment are pointing to Huff’s massacre, the second worst in Seattle’s history, as evidence that stricter gun laws are needed.

There are many misconceptions regarding those who oppose gun control. Beliefs that they are rural, racist, rednecks, uneducated and Republicans, flourish in modern society.

The truth of the matter is that there is no exact face critics can throw up on the television to represent the image of gun supporters. There are many, like myself, who are strongly opposed to the violence caused by guns, oppose the Iraq war, dwell in urban centers, attend college, promote diversity and would not vote for George W. Bush in any circumstance imaginable.

While there are no problems with individuals choosing not to own a firearm, restricting citizens from attaining the means of protecting themselves is an unacceptable and unconstitutional act. Gun ownership, even if the person is a law-abiding adult, has attained a certain stigma in society, which creates the sense that gun ownership is somewhat of a sin. Critics are not grasping the fact that there is a bigger situation at hand – guns are not the problem, people who abuse them are.

Banning guns in an attempt to prevent the occasional high-profile crime sacrifices the security of the majority. The only instance in which banning guns would be truly effective would be the destruction or disassembly of every single firearm on the planet. That includes weapons possessed by police and governments – essentially by those who are considered to be “the good guys.” Guns are here to stay; to restrict their ownership or to tighten laws on them just because a few individuals cannot keep themselves together is unnecessary and will prove foolish in the long run.

I do not own a gun and I have never fired one. As a result of not being a resident of the state of Washington, I cannot legally purchase one here. If anything, that makes me feel less comfortable.

Gun opponents must have much more faith in their government and institutional bodies than I do, especially after witnessing the pillage of civil liberties that has occurred since the September 11th terrorist attacks. Ironically, it is Democrats – those who should be most fearful of having to fight for their civil liberties – who tend to spearhead the assault on guns.

This country is at war, both abroad and within our borders. Another terrorist attack is not something I even consider on a daily basis, and fear of a thug on the street would not compel me to buy a weapon. It is my fear of our government which will make me inclined to purchase a firearm once I’m a college-graduated, tax-paying adult.

Historically, situations of mass extermination by governments could have been solved had their citizens been armed. Wouldn’t the Native Americans or African slaves have been able to drive out their aggressors had they been previously exposed to guns?  Would the Nazis have been able to slaughter so many Jews had they been protecting themselves?

During the Civil Rights Movement, there are multiple cases that showed black communities faced fewer assaults by the Ku Klux Klan when they were known to have weapons on hand. In other situations throughout history and throughout daily life, being the minority and having a weapon decreased your chances of being hassled.

The mentality that socially conservative, censorship-hungry advocacy groups portray of those who support the Second Amendment paints a different picture. It is, unfortunately, a stereotype that has nestled itself deep within the underarm of American society.

The Bushmaster semiautomatic assault rifle, the pistol-grip shotgun, and the hundreds of rounds of ammunition used to take six innocent lives at a quiet blue house on East Republican Street were not the problem.

The problem was Huff, an individual who by the carelessness of government officials was somehow still able to possess the guns he had previously used to vandalize a Montana statue in 2000. The problem was the world Huff came from and the fact that he was allowed to go about his “new life in the big city” unchecked, contributing virtually nothing to society without anybody questioning his worth.

Would a gun prohibition have prevented the Capitol Hill massacres? Nobody can say for sure. Britain, which enacted their stringent Firearms Act in 1997 that made it impossible for citizens to legally possess guns, saw an increase in gun crimes in the years following – according to London’s Sunday Times, from 1997-2000 they increased by nearly 2,000 incidents. Furthermore, because of the lack of available weapons, criminals were smuggling guns in from other areas of Europe, leading to a huge black market for weapons smuggling. Nobody can argue that this makes the streets safer.

Gun restrictions do not work. Telling citizens that they cannot possess weapons makes many feel uncomfortable; whether they will admit it or not, scores of these people are not afraid of criminals entering their home or assault walking down the street – they are afraid of their own government, and of the possibility of not being able to protect themselves from those who claim to be protecting them. This says far more about modern society than a social outcast going on a rampage ever could.

 The Second Amendment was created to give citizens protection against not only criminals, but those officials that govern them. Anyone who keeps up on current events and the pervasion of government into all realms of daily life would have trouble denying this statement.

Despite the grief and anguish over a crime in our backyard, Washington residents cannot let the massacre on Capitol Hill change the rights Americans have – one event that touches close to home for a few shouldn’t lead to foolish, knee-jerk legislation restricting the rights of law abiding citizens.

You don’t have to be blood hungry to know the benefits of legal gun ownership. When the revolution or the apocalypse arrives – whichever comes first, because there’s little doubt we’re due for one of the two in the next few years – those who “morally oppose” gun ownership will have a much harder time protecting and providing for themselves and for their families.

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