Gun control: Use both hands

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Columbine. Virginia Tech. Arvada. Gabby Giffords. Newtown. Taft High School.

The mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School has brought back painful memories of monsters taking innocent lives from across the country.

I grew up near Columbine High School, and my family currently lives close to the movie theater in Arvada, which means that I have a local connection to two of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.

I remember sending get-well cards to Columbine High School with the other students in my elementary school, and visiting the memorial that was built at a park nearby the school. There are still lingering effects from the event, an event that sparked changes in gun legislature in the state of Colorado.

The shooting in Connecticut has ignited the gun control debate across the nation once again, as politicians seek to limit future incidents by passing sweeping gun control regulations.

The right to bear arms is a debate based upon the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights. The amendment reads as follows: “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.”

The amendment was included in the Bill of Rights for the security of a free State.

Gun rights supporters often talk about how the Founding Fathers want them to have weapons in their house. It is difficult for me to imagine that they meant semi-automatic weapons with high-capacity magazines. I do understand why citizens believe they have a constitutional right to own arms that may be referred to as assault weapons.

James Madison wrote the following in “The Federalist” No. 46 in early 1788 on the subject of the right to bear arms:

“Let us not insult the free and gallant citizens of America with the suspicion, that they would be less able to defend the rights of which they would be in actual possession, than the debased subjects of arbitrary power would be to rescue theirs from the hands of their oppressors. Let us rather no longer insult them with the supposition that they can ever reduce themselves to the necessity of making the experiment, by a blind and tame submission to the long train of insidious measures which must precede and produce it.”

This isn’t to say that citizens should have rocket launchers as a means to defend themselves from big government. But, James Madison believed that the citizens of the United States should be able to defend themselves against the government. When politicians and pundits say that the only group that should have guns is the government, I become wary of their motives.

Banning people from having guns reminds me of prohibition — a government ban that produced Al Capone, one of the greatest criminals in the history of our nation.

The worst massacres in recent U.S. history were brought via the vehicle of airplanes and explosives, not guns. Now travelers have to take off their belt and shoes and empty their water bottles at a security checkpoint in order to protect everyone. Is it annoying? Sure. Does it keep us safe? I like to think so.

I do think, however, that changes need to be made.

It should be nearly impossible for a teenager to walk into his place of residence, grab a handgun and a few bullets and walk into school with a finger on a live weapon.

After the September 11 attacks, security was increased nationwide on flights. Schools in Colorado have full-time, active-duty police officers on campus throughout the day. This decision means that there are guns in school, but the weapons are being used by trained professionals. I believe that the schools are safer now than they were without police presence.

There are safety precautions that every single gun owner can take that do not infringe on their right to own a weapon. In my experience, having a gun in the house means that I have a dangerous weapon that needs to be treated carefully. As such, I attended hunter’s safety courses and took other gun safety classes to learn how to properly use a tool that could potentially be very dangerous. My parents kept the ammunition separate from the gun, and used a lock on the gun to prevent loading and firing.

The changes that need to take place in society to make all of us safer are not easy changes. Albus Dumbledore cannot show up and magically make all the guns disappear with a wave of his wand. The 113th Congress cannot sign legislation and magically prevent shootings. President Obama and Robert Mueller cannot mobilize government workers to confiscate firearms across the country.

What can we do right now? Use both hands and get to work on improving the situation the best way we can. Don’t wait for someone else to come in and solve the problem when there are solutions available around you.

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