To the Editor:
The debate over gun control, gun violence and gun rights refers repeatedly to the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights. While we keep arguing over and over on this controversial issue, no action has been taken to stop the killing of innocent people and children by a gunman. The mass shooting has been recorded in any place and anywhere in the United States. It is unequaled the number of mass domestic violence we experience nowadays in the United States. No one is safe regardless of where you are.
We’ve witnessed gun violence indoors and outdoors. It is unfortunate to remember these mass shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007, at a night club in Orlando, Florida in 2016, at Sandy Hook Elementary School of Newtown, Connecticut, at a Las Vegas concert in Nevada where 58 people were dead and 500 injured. And recently in 2018, the Parkland High School mass shooting in Florida added 17 deaths. We are counting the number of losses. Our children are being shot every day under our eyes. Powerlessly, we continued to mourn.
According to a recent report, the United States has more gun owners than any other country in the world. There were 89 guns per 100 people (Smith 2017). Also, the United States has more gun violence than any other country. Despite the fact children and youths continue to die in mass shootings, gun owners and anti-gun control people continue to deny that guns in America is a problem.
We cannot ignore the complexity and irony of the issue around gun rights. People who do not favor gun control weigh their position on the Second Amendment. Here is what it says: “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.” Hiding behind the Second Amendment right to not taking action is outrageous. It is simply a pretext. It is pure hypocrisy if we stick to the Second Amendment saying that we cannot violate the Constitution. We can amend the Second Amendment to fix the problem of gun control. We started when we proclaimed the abolition of slavery. Josiah Atkins, a Connecticut soldier, when he saw George Washington’s plantation, wrote in his journal: “Alas! That person, who pretends to stand for the rights of mankind for liberties of society, can delight in oppression, & that even of the worst kind!” (Norton, Mary Beth & Al 1877).
In the 20th century, we need to adapt to the change in society. We need to continue moving forward. If change means violating the Constitution, we have failed the Constitution already. The abolition of slavery by former President Abraham Lincoln was a clear message that we cannot always rely on the Constitution at all time.
In today’s United States, our ancestors would have been furious at all the strides we have made so far. The Bill of Rights did not include blacks and women as citizens. That being said, taking the Bill of Rights in its context of the 18th century, a slave could not bear arms and were not considered as people. It was designed only for the white male owners of the United States because “Male citizenship rights refer to whiteness” (Norton, Mary Beth & Al 1877).
How can we find a common ground to solve the problem of guns in the country? Are there solutions to this curse? Gun owners’ lobby against gun control stick to the Second Amendment saying that gun control will take away their right to own guns. Congress refuses to enact laws that will regulate guns in the country, acknowledging that they do not want to take away the rights of people to bear arms while the number of gun violence has increased and we buried our children every day. “Gun control can be regulations on who can buy and sell firearms, what kinds of firearms one can own and sell, and where and how it can be carried” (Smith 2017).
Indeed, the real reason why the Senate and the House of Representatives refuse to act on gun control is hidden. It is way far beyond the Second Amendment right. It is all about keeping their political power as elected officials. They know what is at stake in case they do the right thing. They are unlikely to be reelected. In order to keep their power at the House and in the Senate, they will not take action. In Australia, for example, reports showed that strict gun laws reduce mass shooting. Why not follow this country that has been successful in dealing with gun control? As to the Second Amendment people, it is all about money, power and white supremacy.
In my opinion, this problem can be solved without taking guns away from the right to bear arms. Strict regulations that require full compliance are key. There are two main resolutions that I propose:
l Banning high capacity magazines ( HCMs)
l Making it very difficult for civilians to obtain a gun.
For instance, taking into consideration an automobile owner’s requirements, whoever owns a car must comply. To possess an automobile, there are laws that abide by them. Let’s make the gun ownership requirements as of those established by the DMV related to automobile registration.
To possess a gun, here are the requirements
1. Require to disclose ownership of guns
2. Include the ownership of guns in all medical and finance forms to be filled
3. Define a database for every person that owns a gun
4. Require gun lessons before buying a gun by an instructor
5. Must pass gun safety license
6. Registration fee is $500
7. Require to pay gun tax quarterly year
8. Require gun inspection every year
9. Require mental evaluation every six months
10. In case of non-compliance, the person has his gun license revoked and subject to a penalty fee up to $5,000 for 1-5 and imprisonment for 9.
In his decision for 2008 D.C. vs. Heller, Justice Scalia affirmed that the Second Amendment does not establish “a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatsoever purpose.” (Miller, & Al n.d.). Owning a gun is a luxury or a pleasure one can afford. It is not a need. The Second Amendment is not the problem. The people that use guns are the problem. Is it possible that we prioritize the right to bear arms over the right to live in a safe environment? The answer is no. We cannot satisfy everyone. However, it is crucial that we act for the common good in taking the proper decision for the safety of our lives.
Aniece Germain is the co-founder and assistant executive director of Hope and Change for Haiti.