A few weeks ago I found myself sitting across from two of my friends listing off, bullet by bullet, why I firmly believe in the right to bear arms. It was unexpected, considering I’m not a staunch defender of the Second Amendment. Nor am I a gun-lover by any means. But I shouldn’t have been so surprised by my need to jump to guns’ defense—of my opponents, one was from London and the other attends University of Vermont. And while I’m playing into the stereotypes of others, I should say that I am from Texas, I have shot a gun—albeit only a handful of times—and I took all of my high school prom photos in front of the antique musket and pistol we have hanging on the wall in our living room (a tradition my dad began solely for intimidation purposes).
Our argument came about organically, with no reference to the recent shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) or an accidental gun death. The issue, rather, was whether we as citizens should have the right to bear arms. What struck me most in my dinner table debate was my inability to convince my friends that the right to bear arms is not an antiquated amendment in need of revision. As objects constructed to kill, injure, and incur mortal fear, guns and the ownership of guns is by no means off the table for debate.
To me, however, the issue at stake is not whether ownership should be legal, but who should be able to own a gun. Obviously our need to revolt is not present today, as it was following the Revolution, when the amendment was written. Buy it does raise an interesting question as to how we as citizens should feel if weapons were only available to elected authority.
Though the gun control debate has heated both political parties recently in light of the shooting in Tucson and the controversial nomination of anti-gun advocate Andrew Traver to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, raising questions of tougher regulation, I still find myself unmoved by anti-gun advocates. Sitting across from my two friends, though I found that my arguments—our right to protect ourselves, to encourage regulation—trigger no retreat on their side either. Perhaps it is my southern background that has instilled in me the strong belief that every qualified individual has the right to own a gun, whether it is for protection, hunting, or show. I was brought up in a community where going the boys go hunting on long weekends and the question of Second Amendment validity is non-existent. Though I have previously unaware of how this cultural difference has set me apart from my fellow classmates, I now find, as is often the case, that my Texas background has crept into my fundamental beliefs and views of what rights are inalienable. While I might not want a handgun in my house when I’m older, I should not be denied that right by others who fear I might misuse it in some way.
The reality is that there is no way to fully prevent gun violence.Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) are proposing the “Second Amendment Enforcement Act,” which would lift the ban on semi-automatic weapons in D.C.—forcing me to confront the thought of more guns just outside our gates, which makes me feel more anxious than secure—I cannot deny that we have a right to bear arms, and that these weapons are much better in the hands of law-abiding citizens than illegal underground purchasers. For now, though, the debate outside the gates may be ongoing, on campus all we have to worry about are water guns and the occasional, and severely punished, toilet bowl shooters.