Monday, February 18, 2008

Gun Violence

With all of the recent gun violence hitting close to home, I'm forced to reexamine my feelings on gun control. I lived in Tinley Park, where 6 women were killed in a robbery last week, and I have friends who go to NIU, where a gunman killed 6 people and then himself. The shooter was enrolled at my alma mater, the University of Illinois .

I strongly support the first amendment. I've often said that without freedom of speech, a tyrant like Stalin or Hilter could take over and stay in power, because no one could oppose him. Freedom of press is the same, without reporters able to shed light on what the government is doing, people won't know they need to protest, leading to the next freedom, of assembly. A lone madman can do a lot of damage, but can't overthrow a dictator. Freedom of religion is actually similar. People need to be able to think for themselves, to discuss their ideas with others, and disseminate these opinions to the public, and religious dogma prevents this from happening (look at Saudi Arabia). Essentially, the first amendment is protecting free thought.

Now we come to the second amendment. I've at times been vehemently pro and against gun ownership. Recently I've settled into a, need more control, but still allowing people to own firearms position. If the first amendment does its job, and people realize the government is doing wrong, but don't have any weapons, then nothing could be done. Imagine the Revolutionary War if the Minutemen didn't have any muskets. Furthermore, I know that those who would give up temporary security for temporary liberty deserve neither. And I can't suddenly shift my feelings on gun control when a shooting happens close to home.

There will always be mentally unstable people. If we simply let them wander around with access to guns, bad things will continue to happen. However, we can't start locking up people who have signs of mental instability, since at some level, we all do. And we can't take away all access to firearms either. So we are left with a middle ground. To enjoy the freedom we do, we must be willing to risk losing lives. However, helping teachers notice signs of mental illness, and improving gun control regulation can help, while still allowing us our freedoms.

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