The moment calls for analysis and not emotion


Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons license

Americans need to weigh safety against individual liberty.

On Wednesday, 17 lives were tragically lost in Parkland, Fla., to yet another school shooter — Nikolas Cruz, who committed mass murder with a legally obtained AR-15 assault rifle.

While the Parkland shooting is an example of the dangers that can come with a gun in the wrong hands, this doesn’t give Congress the right to control states’ gun laws.

If Congress and even states decide to restrict the right of guns targeting a specific and small group of people (mass murderers and school shooters) then Congress and states would be in violation of infringing our civil liberties.

In the wake of tragedies involving gun violence, such as the Parkland shooting, we as Americans often are willing to compromise our liberties. Our focus becomes narrow-minded on the issue of safety overall that the compromises we then make are often more than what might be constitutionally allowed — the Patriot Act (in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001) being a prime example.

Americans are riled up over the issue of gun control after the events of last week, especially over access to “assault weapons,” but they fail to realize that the reason getting an AR-15 is easier than handguns is because an assault weapon is harder to conceal.

Google image/Creative Commons license
The U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed an individual right to bear arms.

I’m not against gun control per se — every civil liberty has its limits, including guns — but I don’t believe in excessive gun control.

The U.S. Supreme Court has established, most recently in the District of Columbia v. Heller decision of 2008, that guns (handguns specifically) are an individual right that is protected and can’t be infringed by state or federal laws. Using the precedent from that decision, it really bothers me to hear people and legislators insist on a national ban on assault weapons or seek other outrageous gun control laws.

It needs to be noted, as well, that states have the right to decide their gun laws, so while Texas and Florida allow concealed handguns, other states such as California can choose to ban such practices.

I could talk about how Illinois has strict gun laws yet still suffers from extreme gun violence, but I don’t want to highlight statistics. They aren’t the point.

I think before everyone starts reacting out of anger and sadness, maybe we should continue this gun control conversation, not only in Congress, but in state legislatures as well.

While there are limitations on our Second Amendment rights, if we start waiving our right to bear arms in self defense (or however else the Supreme Court deems fit) just because harder-to-conceal and more high-powered guns end up in the hands of people like Nikolas Cruz, then we are inviting Congress to interfere with our freedom of speech and other rights given to us by the law of the land.