In wake of shootings, legislatures must adopt stricter gun laws

by Emily Isola
In 1791 the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution was added, stating, “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.”
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When the framers of the constitution wrote the Second Amendment, they weren’t referring to the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle as the kind of arms  people have a right to keep and bear.
All citizens have the right to protect and defend themselves, but a semi-automatic weapon that shoots 400 rounds per minute is not defense, it’s overkill. A handgun or a six-barrel shotgun could be classified a defense weapon. The AR-15 was originally created solely for use by the United States armed forces, never for civilians.
The AR-15 is the same gun that was used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14. In the wake of this horrific event, the flaws in our country’s gun laws have become evident.
In some states, citizens can attend a gun show and leave with their own gun hours later, having avoided a background check. The fact that a citizen can own a military weapon after a few short steps is beyond absurd. Gun laws need to be changed.
Many gun collectors argue that it isn’t fair for the government to stop them from owning military weapons if they are just on display. Although the collectors may have no intentions of using the guns in a destructive manner, it does not mean that other people feel that way too. There are people in our world who do use military weapons for destructive purposes and the only way to stop them is to ban the sale of assault weapons to everyone.
“People can collect baseball cards or coins, but there is no reason why anyone should need to collect guns,” said sophomore Dan Babis.
According to the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), “New Jersey law restricts the ownership of certain semi-automatic and other firearms based upon their military appearance.” In the state of New Jersey the AR-15 is illegal, and citizens have to go through an extensive process to own any firearm.
No states should allow the purchase and possession of an AR-15 semi-automatic assault weapon, though only California, Hawaii, New York, Maryland, and Massachusetts have joined New Jersey in banning them.
“No citizen should ever need to own a military weapon,” said sophomore Chris Gibbons.
In order to tackle the gun- control problem in our country, President Obama announced his gun-law proposal on Jan. 16. The proposal requires universal background checks of anyone trying to buy a gun. Before the proposal, 40 percent of gun owners did not undergo background checks.
“This gun ban is definitely needed. Our government has a chance to get gun usage somewhat under control, and to save many American lives,” said sophomore Eric Manfra.
The proposal would also restore the national ban on military-style assault weapons and magazines containing more than 10 rounds.
Finally it asks Congress to provide funds to help put more police officers back on the job, as well as for research on the effects that violent video games have on the young mind.
The last time Congress approved a federal ban on assault weapons was 1994. This proposal includes a ban on the sale, transfer, manufacturing, and importation of 150 different types of guns. Also, current gun owners will have to show photo identification to retain their guns and must store them safely.
The president’s proposal faces stiff opposition in Congress and  will likely be watered down or not passed at all. But that does not mean that better gun control is impossible. Hopefully all  states will step up and take responsibility for protecting the  country’s youth by passing their own versions of stricter gun laws, as New York did in January.
“The only way we can change is if the American people demand it,” said President Obama.
When the framers of the Constitution wrote the Second Amendment they intended for it to protect the citizens, not give them the power to injure or murder dozens of people in a matter of minutes. Semi-automatic assault weapons are tools meant to destroy and kill; they were not designed for civilian use and should be banned.