Originally published on Oct. 26, 1989
I would like to take up the issue of gun control with the student who wrote in complaining about the cartoon on the National Rifle Association. The article was run in the Thursday, October 12 issue of Statesman. Now I will let there be no mistake that I dislike the NRA as a political interest group. Too many times have I seen them distort and exaggerate important issues for their own selfish gains. A while ago, there was a bill before Congress to stop the sale of armour piercing bullets. These bullets were serving one purpose: they allowed common, everyday criminals the greatest of good old American pastimes. It allowed them to shoot through the bulletproof vests of police officers. The NRA, representing the American hunter, blew the whistle, claiming that the oppressive government was taking away a God-given right and consequently, the bill died. Still, to this day, I have yet to see a buck or a doe sporting the latest in flak jackets. The people who were and are being truly represented by the NRA are the big gun companies.
Obviously, something must be done about the problem of gun misuse. Of all the thousands and thousands of murders committed every day, month, and year, 50% of those deaths will involve the use of a firearm. The nearest optional weapon is practically 25 percentage points away! The solution that has been proposed by many people is imposing longer sentences, removing the likelihood of parole, removing plea bargaining, etc… Fine, that’s all well and good — but the people are still dead, aren’t they? Shouldn’t we try to do something to prevent them in the first place?
Those suggested solutions are slightly flawed anyway. The prisons are already overcrowded and the problem will increase manyfold with the current “War on Drugs.” Where do you propose to put these people? Also, anyone who knows of the current court situation knows that our legal system is already overextended with court cases. Why do you think the hiring of federal judges is high on the agenda of William Bennett’s drug plan? And that’s just to handle the drug problem. Adding to that, well over half of all court cases are plea bargained. Can you see the problems these easy and simplistic solutions would create? A more extensive plan is needed.
Gun control is not about taking away a hunter’s shotgun or rifle. It’s about the Uzis and AK-47s that have found their way into our streets and have been used in our elementary schools. Trust me: deer don’t shoot back — if that’s your excuse for using a machine gun, you’ll be well protected with a 12 gauge.
The thing that disturbed me the most about the article was how gun control was perceived as having some racial undertones to it. The article stated that it was interesting to note that gun control focused on the inner cities where there is a heavy concentration of blacks. Well, let me see; guns are involved in a majority of crimes…okay, got that. The crime rate is higher in the inner cities compared to someplace else…okay, got that one too. The purpose of gun control is to limit the availability of guns for illegal use…yes, go on. So to me, it only makes sense to put more effort on control where there are the most cases of misuse. As far as I see it, that means the inner cities and not the Hamptons. I haven’t heard too many people being gunned down in the streets of Park Avenue.
The article further implied that people such as Malcolm X and the Black Panthers understood the need for an armed citizenry and that many of today’s African Americans are realizing this today. I would just like to say that if the writer of that article thinks that civil rights are achieved through violent means, he has no understanding of what civil rights are, or the ideals that this race (the human race) holds dear. That is why people such as Martin Luther King and Ghandi are viewed as great people. How do you gain freedom by committing the sins of violence? That’s why we will always hear about Martin Luther King. Malcolm X will become nothing more than a footnote to history – listed with all of the other failed fanatics.
(The writer is an undergraduate.)