By Ronnie O’Leary Columnist
In the wake of the Colorado movie theater massacre, some people have started advocating the consideration of stricter gun laws. Even Antonin Scalia, a Supreme Court justice who has helped strike down many gun laws, said the topic should be open to discussion.
Despite this, gun laws have not been a major issue in this election season, even after the massacre; however, both candidates have expressed their views on this topic. President Obama says that he supports the Second Amendment and that hunting is an American tradition. However, he also says that assault weapons should be banned and that we should not let dangerous individuals obtain guns. In July, Governor Romney said that we should not be politicizing the massacre, that new gun laws are not needed, and that we should pursue people who present a threat, rather than preventing law-abiding citizens from defending themselves.
I personally think that the Second Amendment should be interpreted the way it was written: “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”. The fact is that criminals will find ways of obtaining guns, and stricter gun laws leave average citizens more vulnerable to criminals. The right of self-defense is one of the most important rights we have. It follows from our right to our property. If our right of self-defense is infringed, all of our other rights are threatened.
Of course, private companies, such as movie theaters, may restrict gun ownership; however, it is possible that if the people at the theater were allowed to have guns, they might have minimized the number of deaths. We must balance the benefits of allowing guns to property owners with the risks. For example, I do not think allowing guns on campus would be beneficial: the campus is already safe, and such a policy would be very risky. On the question of assault weapons, the person who operates the weapon is much more important than the weapon itself. A criminal is a criminal, whether he uses a handgun or an assault weapon.
Finally, there is the argument that a civilized society is supposed to have a strong police force to ensure public security and to make sure that only responsible people can use guns. While a strong police force is important, they cannot respond instantly in emergency situations. In these cases, our best line of defense is ourselves. Our safety is ultimately our responsibility, and if we cannot defend ourselves, we are then extremely vulnerable to anyone who initiates violence.