This past Monday there was yet again another mass shooting that took place on American soil. Aaron Alexis took it upon himself to take the lives of 13 innocent people at the Navy Yard in Washington. Just over the past few years we have seen massacres throughout our country in Fort Hood, Aurora, Newton, and Santa Monica. We now can add our nation’s capital to the list. These killings permeate our society, and spur heated debate over gun control. Gun control is a very sensitive subject, and both sides have solid foundations to their arguments. I am a firm believer, just as our Founding Fathers were, in our right to bear arms. However, do people really need to own semiautomatic weapons like the one used in the Newtown massacre? In all honesty why does the “Average Joe” need an automatic weapon that can fire 166 rounds per second? The Amendment was written in a time when one-shot, very inaccurate muskets were the only weapons available. So, maybe we need a little more definition in what weapons we have the right to own. Yet how do we accomplish this without directly denying our constitutional rights? To simplify this complex debate I propose a one on one comparison to guns with another easily accessible “object” that takes the lives of thousands of Americans each year: the automobile.
Driving a car can be a very dangerous weapon, especially when we abuse this privilege. Close to 10,000 people died in drunk driver accidents in 2011. In the same year over 3,300 people were killed in distracted driver accidents (text messaging, phone calls, using mp3 players, etc.). These 13,000 plus car related deaths are compared to 8,583 gun related deaths in 2011. There are roughly 247 million registered cars in the US, and 270 million registered guns. So, even with percentages cars kill more people than guns. If our government is willing to restrict our gun rights it is only logical for them to eventually restrict our driving rights. However, I think these astronomical ownership numbers bring some more light to the debate. Even though humans have the ability to do deplorable things, the majority of us are responsible with the things we own. The numbers prove that there are more responsible gun and car owners in this country than selfish sociopaths.
Now I am not promoting that our driving privileges be limited or taken away, but it does provoke a very serious philosophical issue when the government decides to limit any freedom: once a government starts taking away rights from the people, it’s hard (if not impossible) for the people to ever gain those rights back. Also, once rights are given up we as a people become weaker, and it will be easier for more liberties to be stolen from us in the future. So, let’s think this gun control issue through, and not rush into selling our freedom to the government in exchange for some phony promises of safety. Maybe the first step we need to take as a nation is for Americans to realize their personal responsibility and duty to protect all life.
Until we fully respect and understand the dignity of a human life, it doesn’t matter how many laws you pass–violence will always be a pertinent issue.