A sixth student reflection on the normative question of the role guns should play in (American) society, from my Sociology of Guns seminar, follows. The first five reflections can be found here, here, here, here and here.
By Michael Peretz
My personal views on guns stems mainly from my political ideology, one that adheres to a strict constructionist interpretation of the Constitution, similar to the interpretation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Using contextual evidence from the personal diaries, speeches, and debates of the Founding Fathers, I came to better understand and interpret the Constitution, the document, that I believe, should be our compass when navigating societal debates like the one involving guns. To put my view on guns in terms of a Supreme Court decision, I will use the 2008 case Heller v. The District of Columbia. Using this case as an example, I firmly stand on the side of the Court, which affirmed that the right to bear arms is indeed a right to be enjoyed by each individual American citizen, not just for those that are members of a militia, such as a state’s National Guard. Essentially, I consider myself to be “pro-gun,” but would not consider myself a “gun-nut,” as defined and characterized by Adam Winkler in his work, Gun Fight. Ultimately, I believe guns should be allowed to play a prominent role in our society for recreational and defense purposes; however, I am not necessarily against some restrictions on guns like the “gun-nuts” are. For example, I believe there can be reasonable issuances of restrictions targeting the way we purchase guns, such as mandating background checks and waiting periods (even closing the “gun show loophole”), so long as they can actually help keep guns out of criminals’ hands, while still allow law-abiding citizens to arm themselves in a reasonable amount of time.
In addition to my political ideology, my personal experiences have also shaped my stance on the role of guns in American society, mainly affirming my previously held political beliefs. For as long as I can remember, my dad took me to our local Bass Pro Shop in Dania Beach, Florida to look at the rifles on sale and those in the laser shooting gallery he operated in the store. Quickly, I came to realize that shooting was a great skill, and I began to understand why so many people flocked to stores like Bass Pro to try to buy items to help them improve their craft for recreational and/or defense purposes. Even though no one in my family owned a gun at the time (or even went hunting with other people’s guns), I came to appreciate the shooting skills of others and did not see guns as an immense threat to society’s well-being. Sure, I knew that guns could be very dangerous, and in the hands of a criminal could be very destructive, however, I felt that guns in the hands of the many “good guys” could combat the guns of the few “bad guys.” To be honest, I still feel this way, and whenever there is a horrible mass-shooting in our country, I do not come out and call for more gun regulations like many of the “gun-grabbers” do, but rather I ask why there were not any people around with legally-issued, concealed weapons to combat the efforts of the criminal in question. In my opinion, the more guns in hands of law-abiding citizens the better.
In turn, I believe guns should continue to play a major role in American society, mainly because they protect each of us from criminals, individuals who will always find ways to obtain a weapon, legally or otherwise; however, they should also remain omnipresent because an individual’s right to bear arms has always been a valued part of American society as a means to protect our liberties.