The first written assignment in my Sociology of Guns seminar was for students to reflect on their own personal views of the role that guns SHOULD play in (American) society (in 500-1,000 words).
This initial reflection is meant to set the stage for a larger written project undertaken over the course of the semester that will engage the more empirical, sociological question: What role DO guns play in (American) society?
The 15 students in my course expressed a range of views, representative of the range of attitudes toward guns that we see in society at large. The following is one student’s reflections on the normative question of the role guns should play.
By Cristina Stewart
The role of guns are a staple in American Society because they are a part of the culture of who we are as a nation. The Second Amendment that is stated in the Bill of Rights is arguably the most important Amendment that our Founding Fathers put there. The role that guns should play in society should not be hindered by gun control laws. I am comfortable with a twenty-four hour background check, but not much after that. While it is deeply upsetting that mass shootings have become a reality of our country-most people that have committed these crimes have obtained their guns illegally on the black market. While those that obtained them legally passed their background check, even if a “mental” history background check had been done many of those who have committed these crimes would have passed. Requiring these mental history background checks further demonizes those with past or present mental illness. Also who would determine what an “appropriate” mental illness would be? If someone has ever seen a therapist would that exclude them from their constitutional right to bear arms? I have grown up hearing both differing viewpoints on this subject-my father is a libertarian and my mother is a very liberal Democrat. I also am very aware of the statistics that illustrate how America has more violent crime due to the prevalence of hand guns in this country compared to other Westernized country. However, this violence mostly stems from guns that have been obtained on the black market. Gun control laws, would do nothing to deter crime , except leave law abiding citizens defenseless and stripping them of one of their constitutional rights.
But above all, the importance of the Second Amendment rests in the fact that if the people feel that the government is oppressing them or trying to take away the liberties that we have in our Constitution then they have the right to take up their arms against a tyrannical government. I obviously am not advocating treason, but it’s been seen to happen in other countries that sometimes a new leader ushers in a new regime. If this regime denies the people the rights that have been endowed to them in the Constitution then they have a right to fight against that regime. Because of this guns should be treated with a mix of fear and reverence. They are capable of taking a life-and to take that lightly would certainly be foolish. Because guns play such a major role in our society we should not demonize guns and gun owners as being ignorant or violent people. Rather we should have people know the proper way to handle guns and shoot them, in case they are ever in a situation that requires use of guns. To impose gun control laws that require extensive background checks, as well as limiting the type of guns that can be purchased infringes on the rights that were given to us by the Founding Fathers.
I take this stand on the role guns should play in society because I believe that the Constitution is the greatest document ever written. I am not comfortable with gun control laws hindering the rights that were granted to me in said document. I do subscribe to the slippery slope argument. Once there is a foot in the door, it makes it easier to get inside. By imposing gun control laws, supporters of it are able to get closer and closer to outlawing all guns and ammunition in this country. Though I do believe that the Constitution is a living document and should have the ability to grow with the changing times-there are some things that will never change. Having the right to bear arms for the security of a free state will always be a present aspect of our society and will never change no matter what century we are in.