Another week, another mass killing, this time in a mall in Allen, Texas. Fact: The U.S. has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world. Fact: The U.S. has the highest rate of homicides-by-firearms in the world. With less than 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. has 46% of the world’s civilian-owned guns. The U.S. ranks first in the world with the most guns per capita. First!
Naturally, gun rights advocates will argue that correlation does not necessarily mean causation.
Those same gun rights advocates will also argue that the 2nd amendment guarantees them the right to bear arms. It reads: “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.” Interestingly enough, many historians feel that the primary purpose of the 2nd amendment was to “prevent the need for the U.S. to have a professional standing army.” But that was back in 1789 and here, in 2023, we not only have a professional standing army but police departments as well. And in 2023, most of us do not need to hunt for our food or protect ourselves from bears at our back doors.
Perhaps it is time to consider revoking the 2nd amendment.
OK, I know that one will never fly. But can we just all agree that the 2nd amendment does not preclude either the federal or state governments from enacting stricter gun regulation laws? That it says nothing about what kind of guns can be owned? That it says nothing about keeping guns out of the hands of mentally ill people and young children? That it says nothing about imposing waiting periods for gun purchases, background checks, or instituting a national gun registry?
Why would any honest gun owner, who is without criminal intent, object to having to pass a test and be licensed in order to own a gun? But many gun rights advocates will argue that they don’t want “Big Brother” aka “the government” in their business. You cannot drive on public roads in this country without passing a test in order to obtain a license to drive. If you own a car, you must register the car annually with the state and in most cases, with your town or village. If you own a home, you register ownership via a deed. What’s the difference? Isn’t the government already “in your business”?
Those self-same people will argue that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. That we should arm teachers. That if everyone had a gun, we’d all be safe. That criminals won’t observe the laws, so why put the laws into place? By that logic, we should have no laws because every single law on the books is broken by someone, somewhere. In my youth, I racked up a couple of speeding tickets. Oh and a few years ago I got a ticket for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign. I’m not alone by any means in breaking traffic laws. Does that mean we should repeal all traffic laws?
The right to bear arms is not without restrictions and some restrictions have been upheld by none other than the Supreme Court of the U.S. Of course, as we are all too aware now in 2023, Supreme Court rulings have less to do with logic and precedent and more to do with the political leanings of the present court’s membership. Nonetheless, can’t we all agree that common sense dictates that the rights granted to citizens by the 2nd amendment are not without limits?
Canada imposed a 28-day waiting period in response to a mass killing in 1989. Australia, only two weeks after a mass killing in 1996, passed sweeping legislation that included a buy-back program that took 650,000 guns off the street. Gun rights advocates frequently point to Israel where “everyone has a gun” because everyone is in the army. Not true. Yes, by law, most 18-year-olds are drafted into the army where they are psychologically tested and receive arms training. However, after being discharged from the service, former soldiers are subject to civilian gun laws which are quite strict.
I do not use the term “mass shooting.” I call it what it is, a mass killing because so far, every one of these weekly “events” has resulted in one or more deaths of innocent people just going about their everyday lives.
Oh well, another week, another mass killing.
Business as usual.
Louise Mezzatesta is a River Forest resident.