The Daily Illini

No guns, no liberty

By Lucas Oswald, Columnist

Columnists’ opinions are their own and may not necessarily represent the views of The Daily Illini.

The recent Las Vegas shooting has once again revived the controversial gun control conversation, sparking debates about the merits of additional gun laws across the country. However, even in the wake of such a tragedy, I hold firm that there should be no further restrictions on guns.

Two main misconceptions lead the advocates of increased gun regulation: The U.S. is among the only industrialized nations to allow guns on a broad scale and fewer guns would cause a reduction in murder and suicide rates.

In a study published in “Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy,” authors Don B. Kates and Dr. Gary Mauser compare data on gun ownership rates in several different European countries with the murder rates in each of the countries. The data actually show, if anything, a negative correlation between these rates.

According to the study, Finland, which has the highest rate of gun ownership at a whopping 39,000 guns per 100,000 citizens, is beaten out for the highest murder rate by three other nations — Russia, Luxembourg and Hungary — all of which have extremely low gun ownership rates.

Also shown in the data, Norway, which has the second highest rate of gun ownership at 36,000 guns per 100,000 citizens, maintains the second lowest murder rate at .81 murders per 100,000 people.

In 2017, the Pew Research Center found that the U.S. has a gun-ownership rate of 30 percent, which is less than or equal to the rates of many of the nations listed in the Harvard study.

Based on both research studies, it is clear that banning guns will not fix any of the issues pertaining to gun violence in our nation. There is no evidence to suggest that stricter gun laws would lower murder rates at all.

Guns are not the problem, people are. If a person desires to harm another human being, they will find a way to do so, regardless of whether or not they have legal access to guns. What is to stop someone with no qualms about disregarding the laws against murder from disregarding a less serious law banning the possession of firearms?

Currently, the possession of recreational marijuana in the state of Illinois is illegal. Yet, how often is it that this law is broken? Placing more restrictions on gun ownership does not guarantee the cooperation of the populace.

We must also remember the reason for which our Founding Fathers included Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights. According to Benjamin Franklin, each and every citizen of this great nation has the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” A sense of security is a major part of happiness.

The Pew Research Center found that “two-thirds of gun owners cite protection as a major reason for owning a gun.” If owning a gun can provide this to so many people, who are we to deny them the feeling of safety in their own homes?

Guns are also collectible items. Many people buy firearms for the joy of adding them to their collections. If collecting guns allows them to pursue happiness, we as a nation have no right to stand in their way.

In the end a gun is a tool, just like a pen, an axe or a rake. We would never think to place blame on the pen for what the author has written, the ax for what the lumberjack has chopped down or the rake for leaves the gardener has piled. Why, then, should we blame the firearm for the actions of the one who wields it? With the absence of a finger to pull the trigger, a gun is useless.

Yes, guns are dangerous in the hands of a few. Then again, so is any other item that could be used to do another harm, including something as seemingly innocent as peanut butter. Should we restrict every allergen that might harm another if not handled responsibly? The many should not suffer for the issues of the few.

We need to discover new ways to regulate the firearm usage of criminals, without infringing upon the rights of law-abiding citizens. Gun legislation must not become a way to remove power from the hands of the people. This is not kindergarten; everyone need not lose crayon privileges because Jimmy drew on the wall. 

Lucas is a sophomore in Engineering.

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