Staff Editorial: A right to bear arms or a right to kill?

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Devon Hoffman ’13

We have all seen the photos of the teary mourners and of the 26 innocent angels whose lives were tragically taken on December 14, 2012.  We have heard stories of terror and heroism that were all caused by a single man with a single gun. A gun, that perhaps, he never should have had in the first place.

Though as a nation, we strictly abide by the second amendment giving us the right to bear arms, with all of these recent tragedies, There needs to be a drastic change in gun laws to prevent shootings and homicides caused by firearms. If terrorists were setting off bombs nationwide, then there would surely be increased and stricter protocols for heightened security. If some disease was spreading fatal germs, public officials would be stopping it in its path.  Ironically, the prevalence of firearm related deaths is more murderous than any disease. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, between 2006 and 2010, 47,856 people were murdered in the US by firearms, more than twice as many as were killed by all other means combined. So shouldn’t there be actions taken for prevention like there would be for any other harmful situation?

We cannot deny citizens the right to bear arms, which would completely oppose what our founding fathers wanted for us. They wanted individuals to feel a sense of protection and strength.   While this desire is still somewhat relevant, we must remember that this was written at a time when carrying around a rifle was considered normal, and duals were a common occurrence.  With a growing death rate related to the ease of firearm possession posed by this amendment, the standards to purchase a weapon should be much higher. At this moment, if you have solely been proven as mentally competent and do not have a criminal record, you are able to buy guns, according to abc.news.

“In 2010 the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) ran 16,454,951 background checks for firearms purchases.  Only a small number of these purchases (78,211 or 0.48 percent) were denied,” according to abcnews.

It seems almost obvious that these background checks are surely not done in depth and should be used to restrict potentially dangerous people in addition to those without sufficient reason for purchasing a gun.

Obtaining a gun license should be a much more strenuous process. Newyorkcityguns.com describes the procedure as being, “not particularly difficult, but it is tedious and incredibly time consuming. It tests your patience, and there is a lot of bureaucracy to deal with.” The process should test a lot more than patience. It should include reasons for necessity of the weapon along with serious background checks.

Furthermore, the government must make more of an effort to stop illegal gun trafficking. According to gunvictimsaction.org, “the vast majority of the approximately 12,000 annual gun murders and 66,000 non-fatal shootings are committed by people who have no legal right to a gun.” This fact must be used to spread awareness and spark actions against exchanges between legal distributors and illegal users.

To create a less violent nation with fewer casualties, perhaps the number of firearms manufactured should be reduced. Along with that, there should be less distributors giving away these guns. According to the latest Bureua of Alchohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) numbers (as of August 1), there are more than 129,817 federally licensed firearms dealers in the United States. To put this in perspective, according to nationmaster.com, there are 12,804  McDonalds restaurants in the US. Even McDonald’s golden arches, which seem to appear at every street corner, barely compare to the prevalence of firearm distributors.

According toATF reports, in 2010 there were 5,459,240 new firearms manufactured in the United States, with 95 percent for the US market. Anadditional 3,252,404 firearms were imported to the United States. This means that in one year, there were nearly 8.5 million new firearms on the street. If we reduce this astonishing number, we can obtain a more peaceful society and lessen the number of firearm deaths.

From elementary schools to movie theaters, the right to bear arms has transitioned into a right to kill. By making it more difficult to obtain a firearm, we can keep these dangers out of the wrong hands.  Literally.

 – Devon Hoffman & Allie Kenny, Co-opinion editors

*Please continue reading* 

Devon Hoffman ’13

You do not have the right to remain silent
Recently The Journal News published the names of individuals who have pistol permits in Westchester and Rockland Counties in New York.  The editors of the paper wanted to provide citizens with this information so that they could be aware of neighbors, friends and family who have licensed pistol permits.
Their decision to publicize the names and addresses of those who have pistol permits is completely irresponsible. The Journal News’ efforts to make a point have put private individuals and their families in danger.  Children and other relatives of those named are now subject to harassment and other danger.
These editors clearly have a problem with individuals who have pistol permits, but I have to ask, is it really necessary to drag their families into it? Besides that, their timing of publishing could not have been anymore insensitive. As this nation recovers from one of the largest mass shootings in history, The Journal News decided to politicize the event, and turn it into a political controversy. How about giving time to grieve?
As editor-in-chief of a newspaper, I believe that they made a mockery of themselves. Their actions have cost them a lot of respect among colleagues and constituents, and have caused many to question their legitimacy as a news source. Along with that, they have gone beyond the line of acting professionally. The editors have chosen to break one of the most important rules of journalism: to report without bias. It was their job to report the NEWS and the facts only so that readers may then be equipped to form their own opinions about the issues. What they did was strip the readership of this opportunity, instead choosing to form opinions for them.
Their actions have proven absolutely nothing. They publicized the names of those who have pistol permits. What about all other gun owners? What about those who possess unregistered fire-arms? We are not just talking about those who obtain guns illegally, but rather those who have any type of long guns which can be used for skeet shooting, hunting or target sports. Those guns do not require permits, yet they can still kill.
All The Journal News has done is put citizens in danger. These are citizens who have done the proper thing by obtaining a permit; citizens who are unlikely to use their guns in a mass shooting, but rather have them as a form of self-defense. As an example, judges, law enforcement officials and criminal prosecutors, many of whom who have put criminals in prison, are in danger right now and so are their families. Their names and addresses are available for anyone to obtain, and use to possibly seek revenge.
As a result of this irresponsibility, Albany lawmakers have passed a law to protect those who have pistol permits. Pistol permit holders now have the option to opt out of having their names and addresses available for publishing.
Additionally, due to many threats and the controversy surrounding their decision, The Journal News took down the map of pistol permit holders. Once something is on the internet though, it is always on the internet. That information will always be available in some way.
As members of a community, we all have the responsibility to protect our citizens. That includes everyone. Putting others in danger to prove a point is reckless and irresponsible. Ultimately, what did they prove? Absolutely nothing.
 
– Kim Benza, Editor-in-Chief