In the wake of such tragedies as the Aurora theatre shooting and the murder-suicide committed by Kansas City Chief’s player Jovan Belcher, many in the media have responded with an outcry that all firearms are a detriment to society and that they should be outlawed or regulated to an extreme extent. This characterization simply could not be further from the truth.

The world that we live in can be a scary and violent place, but the media trumpets the argument for ‘gun control’ on a regular basis. Granted, the nightly news can be horrifying. Stories about the shooting that took place down the street or the convenient store robbery that ended in murder are sadly commonplace. However, you do not hear about the nearly 990,000 annual instances in which U.S. civilians defend themselves and others (according to a study published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology) by exercising their Second Amendment right to bear a firearm. Firearms don’t just harm innocent civilians, as the media would suggest, but they also protect them. In a 1982 survey in state penitentiaries, 34 percent of felons said that their crimes had been thwarted by armed victims who stood up for themselves. Try telling the victims of these violent criminals that you would take away their right to protect themselves and see how they respond.

One popular argument for the control of firearms is that we wouldn’t need to bear arms if the criminals were denied access to guns as well. Unfortunately, criminals are criminals because they break the law – including those regarding the obtainment and possession of firearms. Establishing laws that restrict law-abiding citizens from possessing firearms and protecting themselves gives criminals the upper hand. Those who mean us harm will always find a way to acquire guns, but for the law-abiding citizen, is it fair to have to bring a knife to a gun-fight?

History has shown, over and over again, that the restriction of the right of the people to bear arms has quite the opposite effect than intended. From our neighbors in Mexico, to our own capital in Washington D.C., rates of violent crime have increased when the government restricts gun owners. In fact, during the period when D.C.’s restrictions took effect, the murder rate averaged 73 percent higher than at the outset of the restrictive laws. In Mexico, which had the third-highest global murder rate last year, it is extremely difficult to legally obtain a firearm and yet the drug cartels that run the streets of Juarez and Tijuana are armed to the teeth. There is a misconception that the majority of the drug cartels’ weapons are smuggled in from the U.S. However, a study by Stratfor Global Intelligence suggests that less than 10 percent of weapons are brought in from Mexico’s northern neighbor. In reality, most firearms are acquired through arms-dealing across Mexico’s southern border, where a cartel with a handful of cash can easily purchase anything from an assault rifle to a grenade launcher. Innocent civilians die everyday because they are incapable of bearing arms to protect themselves from the monsters that would do them harm. We are fortunate in America that we have the capability to protect ourselves and it is important that we maintain this capacity.

Finally, the case for ‘gun control’ has garnered much support in the aftermath of such deplorable events such as the Virginia Tech and Aurora shootings. These are cases in which individuals legally acquire firearms and use them in mass-casualty, high-profile shootings that make us question how an individual could possibly commit such atrocious acts. These events certainly represent the need for change within our society, but not at the expense of the Second Amendment. Individuals who commit such heinous crimes as these would not be hindered by the removal of firearms. There are alternative ways of obtaining a firearm and, in a USDoJ Survey, almost 40 percent of felons in firearms cases reported that they had obtained the weapon from an illegal street source and only 8 percent reported that they had bought the weapon themselves from a legal firearms dealer. Also, as Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper noted, following the Aurora Theatre Shooting, if someone is determined to take lives, there are other ways of doing so. In fact, in the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, the murderers only began shooting after their improvised explosives failed to explode.

‘Gun control’ is a poorly defined concept that enables the criminal minority and punishes a public that has the right to self-defense. This right, in fact, was defined and outlined by our forefathers as the Second Amendment. ‘Gun control’ will not decrease crime or murder rates. The reality is that we live in a crazy world where a few individuals have the audacity to use firearms for nefarious purposes. However, 80 million legal gun owners in America would be denied their right to safety and security if anti-gun laws go into effect.

Until the world sees no more violence and lays down its arms, I will stand up for my Second Amendment rights like my life depends on it – because, someday, it may.

Ian Pelto

Guest Writer

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