By Dion J. Pierre
On Wednesday, new gun control regulations that would have banned assault weapons, sale of large gun magazines and extended background checks of gun buyers failed to achieve the votes needed in the Senate. But fear not, fellow Hofstra students, because this legislation would be nothing more than a political statement.
I wasn’t surprised this week to learn that a National Journal Poll found that 56 percent of millennials support new gun control legislation. After all, this is the same generation of kids that have twice elected a president who has resided over the highest number of unemployed college degree holders in 11 years. Unfortunately, we have started a trend of standing in the way of our own interest.
The gun control debate became misunderstood, something to advocate for, but nothing our demographic actually seemed to get. While we retweet the accounts of tragedy and loss of life, we forget to look at how many people are actually killed from guns in the United States.
Now I don’t want to be the guy who just says, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Unfortunately, I have to be. When something tragic happens, Americans band together to mend the wounds of those affected. The problem with the gun control debate was that it was more about easing the American conscience.
Let’s look at some numbers. Eighty-nine out of every one hundred Americans own guns. Between 2001 and 2007, gun ownership rose almost five percent, but what Chris Matthews or Rachel Maddow won’t tell you is that incidents involving gun violence have actually gone down significantly. There were 122,000 gun robberies in 2011, the fewest since 2004. The year 2010 saw a little over 11,000 gun murders, the lowest number since 1981. Lastly, we see all this reduction in gun violence occurring while the nation experienced a 64 percent increase in gun manufacturing between 2007 and 2011.
We need to accept the reality that no matter how many laws Congress may enact to lessen the amount of gun violence, criminals will still choose to break the law. If someone wants to buy illegal guns, they will do it. Banning assault weapons and large magazines will not do anything, because they could always be purchased illegally.
The same way drug dealers still deal cocaine and college kids smoke marijuana is the same way gun laws are broken. You simply can’t make people do the right thing, and the American people simply don’t want anyone to take their guns away. I sympathize for the citizens of Newtown, the families, and most of all the children. But we won’t fix anything by launching a liberal assault on American gun ownership rights. And compare us to Europe all you want. Yes, citizens in England can’t have guns for personal use. But the English government can also control what its citizens watch on television.
Most gun owners are responsible. We need not go down the slippery slope of trying to keep guns out of the hands of the few maniacs who do bad things. Tons of things can kill people like bare hands, cars, and high heels. Should we ban all those items as well? As a matter of fact a student at Lone Star Community College in Texas decided to go on a stabbing spree. The focus should be on the individual not on the weapon. And being that we are the Americans who will be running things in thirty years, we need to remember that the real change starts with the individual and not the government.