Guest column by Nathan Huffine, freshman broadcast journalism major
The great gun debate in the U.S. seems to be often misrepresented by politicians and fringe groups. The Democrats, with weak-sauce gun regulations, are accused of wanting to take away Americans’ guns and thus destroy the Second Amendment.
While Republicans lobby for the National Rifle Association, ensuring gun sales continue no matter the cost of life, the reality is, Americans want basic regulations to help create a safer society. According to the Pew Research Center, 85 percent of Americans in 2015 supported expanding background checks for guns.
When I was at the Orange International Street Fair, I came across a booth with a sign reading “STOP Unconstitutional 2A Laws Now … The Right of the people to KEEP and BEAR Arms, SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.”
We cannot have real discussions about smart gun regulations when conservatives go around misquoting our Constitution.
The gun advocates at this booth conveniently left out the part of the Second Amendment that reads, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State …” because “well regulated” may cause a little confusion in its message. The truth is government does hold the constitutional power to limit who can and cannot purchase firearms.
After looking into the six new laws signed by Gov. Jerry Brown this year, it becomes apparent that the laws are nothing radical, but instead what appears radical is what one of the gun advocates at the fair told me:
“Most egregious … is they can decide what’s a weapon of war and they can prevent you from passing it onto your children and grandchildren,” he said.
Senate Bill No. 880 will expand “assault weapons” to include semi-automatic, centerfire rifles with easily removable magazines. When I heard the quote above, I was surprised. If government cannot decide what is a weapon of war, then what would stop a citizen from owning a tank or missiles?
“You have to get a license to buy ammunition- to buy a license is going to be as much as 50 bucks, but then they’ve got to pay for all the bureaucracy,” said the gun advocate at the fair. “So then they charge you $10 every time you buy ammunition.”
Another bill requires an ID and background check for individuals looking to buy ammunition. The quote from the gun advocate above makes a few claims over numbers that can’t necessarily be confirmed, but for those who support reasonable gun regulation, you can feel a little safer knowing this new background check is in place.
Will the purchase of ammunition become more expensive? Possibly. But I see that as an intended consequence. By making it more expensive to transform someone’s apartment into a small armory, we prevent more mass shootings.
Other laws signed by Brown this month include banning the ownership of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 bullets, and restricting the loaning of guns to friends and family without background checks. And in November, voters will have the opportunity to decide on a measure making the stealing of guns a felony.
Ultimately, it’s crucial for us to get money out of politics to prevent groups like the National Rifle Association from bribing politicians into valuing profits over people. America’s dire need for systemic change should influence voters at the booths this November.