By Cathy Sun
The Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm unconnected to service in a militia for lawful purposes. However, the Amendment does not protect people from state legislation that interferes with their right to bear arms, and firearm regulation varies widely among fifty states.
Many states allow concealed carry of a firearm without any training or permit. Such states include Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming, and Vermont. In fact, the state of Vermont allows residents as young as sixteen to conceal carry without parental permission as well as purchase handguns. Most states do not require firearm owners or purchasers to be licensed, much less trained. There are even states, such as Arizona, that have passed legislation prohibiting localities from imposing training requirements.
The problem with gun carry is that guns are rarely used in self-defense. More often than not, knowing when as well as how to employ lethal force in a critical life-or-death situation is difficult. Without state regulation and interference, carrying a firearm in public will not provide individuals the power of self-defense unless the carrier has been properly trained and maintains the necessary level of skillfulness.
In a behavioral experiment conducted by the National Gun Victims Action Council, participants, including firearm trained officers and untrained civilians, were put into simulated scenarios of carjacking, armed robbery, and suspected larceny. The study aimed to compare the reaction of armed civilians in critical situations to that of trained police officers. The officers were able to protect their own and public safety by shooting armed assailants with precision and timing. Civilians either shot innocent or unarmed people, or failed to shoot assailants until they themselves were already fatally shot.
Loopholes in gun regulation have also been critical flaws that come at the cost of human lives. In the 2015 Chattanooga shooting, a mentally unstable gunman was able to take advantage of an online gun sale loophole to acquire a firearm. Muhammad Abdulazeez purchased at least one of his firearms from where he knew he could do so with no background check. The federal law requires only that licensed gun dealers conduct background checks. This flaw in regulation equates to millions of guns each year exchanged without examination of a purchaser’s history or mental condition — online, or through unlicensed private sellers at gun shows.
The Charleston Massacre perpetrator Dylann Roof purchased his firearm from a federally licensed dealer with an incomplete background check. In 1993, the Brady background check bill that was passed required all firearm dealers to run background checks on purchasers through the Federal Bureau of Investigation. However, while Congress was in debate over the bill, the National Rifle Association sponsored and pushed through an amendment that allowed licensed firearm dealers to sell a gun after three business days, even if the FBI had not yet completed a background check to affirm that the purchaser was legally allowed to possess a firearm.
As a free society founded on the idea of natural rights, we seem to be largely focused on the latter half of the Second Amendment, “shall not be infringed.” However, such a phrase, taken without any sense of responsibility or obligation, is a hedonistic choice. Preserving the individual liberty to defense is about more than ruling out whatever was not specifically mentioned by the founding fathers. Gun control does not equate to eliminating necessary firearm possession. Gun control tightens legal restrictions and resolves loopholes that has taken the lives of too many.