Gun Control: The Main Debate

Obama and Gun Control

Last year saw sixteen mass shootings across the U.S. One such shooting took place in Aurora, Colorado during a midnight movie screening. To date, the incident has the highest victim count of any shooting with 12 deaths and 58 injuries. Amongst the Aurora shooting victims, were Ashley Moser and her daughter Veronica Moser-Sullivan. Six-year-old Veronica was tragically killed in the attack, and Ashley was left seriously injured. Ashley suffered multiple gunshot wounds and is currently in the hospital recovering.  Even more recently the shooting of deaths of 24 victims have energized the Obama administration to move boldly on gun control.  Ironically, a high school girl who had traveled to Washington for the inauguration ceremony to perform with her marching band was killed in a shooting incident shortly after returning to Chicago.

gun-control-debate

The debate over gun control has never been at the forefront of U.S politics as much as it is right now due to these recent shooting tragedies. Here is a look of the current views on both sides of the argument:

The Arguments in Favor of Stricter Gun Control

Proponents of stricter gun control laws favor more checks and bans on certain weapons rather than outright bans. President Obama has proposed gun control laws that include a ban on assault weapons, background checks on firearm sales, and a ban on high-capacity ammunition and armor-piercing rounds.

Many of the most lethal shootings in recent history have been carried out by well-armed individuals using semi-automatic assault rifles with high-capacity magazines. The death counts are notably higher when such weapons are used. Holmes would not have been prevented from buying one of his weapons, a pump-action shotgun, due to the ban.

Additionally, the majority of shootings are carried out with legally owned weapons. The feeling is that background checks should be able to identify juvenile offenders or people with mental health issues, groups that are often perpetrators of the attacks. Holmes has a history of mental illness so checks may have prevented him from legally purchasing firearms and saved the Aurora shooting victims.

The Arguments Against Stricter Gun Control

“The right to bear arms” dates back to the founding years of the U.S and is written in The Bill of Rights as part of the Second Amendment to The United States Constitution. There are different interpretations of the Second Amendment, but the general consensus amongst those who strongly support civilian ownership of firearms, even assault weapons,  is that guns are means of defending both individual and national liberties. They argue that it is a person’s right to defend him/herself from the violent acts of others. They also contend that an armed population can defend itself from a tyrannical government should one arise, and that an armed population actually prevents tyranny in the first instance.

Holmes was also wearing various pieces of body armor. This raises an interesting question when considering the self-defense argument for gun ownership; how does gun ownership help an ordinary civilian, such as the Aurora shooting victims, defend him/herself from an armored attacker?