Throughout the past year, our elected representatives have pushed for stricter gun control laws. Usually, you will hear about background checks or banning assault weapons. President Barack Obama, Governor Chris Christie, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Senator Charles Schumer, and Governor Andrew Cuomo are among the leading elected officials who have signed into law actions they say will limit gun violence. They have enacted gun-free zones, limits on magazines, bans on so-called assault weapons, and a push for universal background checks.
Listening to them speak, one would believe that we don’t have the proper background checks in place to keep guns out of the hands of felons or mentally unstable people. I am here to tell you they are wrong. We do have the background checks in place. Every time someone buys a gun from a dealer or manufacturer, federal law dictates that the buyer must fill out a 4473 form. The 4473 form requires the buyer to provide information such as name, address, and date of birth. This form and photo ID gets sent automatically to an FBI database where the buyer is processed and checked for criminal and mental records. Every person legally buying any type of firearm from a dealer has to go through this process. It is a criminal offence, subject to five years in prison, to lie on the 4473 form.
You hear other people ask, “Oh, what about the whole gun show loop hole?” In reality, the same thing applies. The dealer is required to contact the FBI database via Internet or phone. And if they do not do this, the transaction is illegal. The person who has purchased the firearm has an illegal firearm and the person who sold it has committed a crime. It is a law for dealers to establish that the person they are selling a firearm to is not a felon and does not have any record of mental instability
One might think that people will sell a gun without a background check. Truthfully, guns do get sold illegally. You must realize that this illegal action will happen, and criminals don’t follow the laws by definition. So will another law help prevent the sale of illegal guns? I say no, especially since it will be just as easy for criminals to break a new law as it is to break any other law.
There has also been the idea to ban firearms or certain types of firearms. Besides our Constitutional right to own them, will it actually help reduce gun violence? There are millions of guns in the United States. Most of them are semi-automatic weapons (weapons that can hold a magazine with more than one bullet and can be shot multiple times with each press of the trigger). These guns will never disappear. There are so many firearms in the general public that are legally and illegally owned. Banning these weapons will only make legal gun owners who do not break laws criminals.
The Sandy Hook shooter broke several laws. He murdered his mother and stole her firearms and car. He stole her handguns because under the law, anyone under 21 is not allowed to posses a handgun. He took the firearms into a gun free school zone and committed unthinkable murders. Which new law would have stopped him?
We should be targeting the real problem with a real solution. People that aren’t supposed to have guns are getting guns. People who have bad intentions are using guns for nefarious purposes. What they are doing is a crime. They are not following the laws. What will make them willing to follow another law? The more people who have legally gone through the background check to buy a firearm, the more people that go through state-required training on concealed carry and gun laws, the more people that train on how to properly shoot and handle their firearm, the less violent crimes there will be.
Look at the secret service protecting our president and his family. They are there for a reason: for protection. Why should we allow our schools, government buildings, and everyday places to be unprotected gun free zones? Will criminals read the sign and walk away? No, if someone has bad intentions, they will act upon them regardless. The Colorado shooter bypassed two Cinemas allowing concealed carry, and he traveled farther to a cinema that was gun-free.
The only way to stop gun violence is to have the ability to stop the attacker. A good example is the Cold War. Neither the U.S. nor U.S.S.R. struck the other because each knew that if they acted with force, they would be met with the exact same force.
If you take a look at the areas of our country with stricter gun laws, you see they have more gun violence. For example, it is illegal to own a gun in New York City and in the Chicago area, but these are the two places that have the highest rates of homicide by a firearm. The opposite occurs in areas like Texas that allow you to strap a gun on your hip and walk around. These areas have low gun violence.
You have to think, what if this happened to you? Do you want to be unarmed if some maniac chooses to break the law and hurt others? No. You want to be able to defend yourself in case of an emergency. On campus, I believe that our Public Safety officers should be able to carry guns. Public Safety is the first line of defense and action if, God forbid, something terrible happens on campus.
The moral of this story is that more properly vetted and trained people with firearms will allow for a safer environment. Guns are not the reason people are murdered; people who break our laws are the reason for gun violence. Being prepared to defend yourself and the people you are responsible to protect is the most logical thing to do.
Dickey is a member of the class of 2015.