Protect the right to self defense

Pete Costanza

“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” There is a reason why the second amendment right to bear arms comes after the first amendment freedom of speech — speaking out against governments can be dangerous. This was true in 1789 when the Bill of Rights was proposed and it still holds true today.

Governments have historically turned tyrannical. Just look at what’s happening in Syria now, and what lead to the beginning of our own country. If there is ever a need to institute a new government, a peaceful protest is the best solution.

But name one government that packed up and left town without a fight. Fighting against an oppressive government is why we have the right to arm ourselves. Even if the possibility seems to diminish over time, in reality it does not.

Take the Occupy Movement as an example of how the United States government can restrict the fundamental right of free speech. Peaceful protesters were met with violence by the very police, they were supposed to trust with their lives when they took a resisting stance against a system they believe has failed them.

What will happen when the masses wake up to see the government they trust is not so democratic anymore, when the time for everyone to stand up has arrived and they are met with more than batons and pepper spray? Is the government after every gun out there? No. Does the government and military have more power that can wipe out a very well-maintained Militia? Yes. That is exactly why citizens should have the right to own arms beyond those for hunting and home protection.

In the past decades there have been a lot more mass shootings – Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora and Sandy Hook – shootings resulting in a nation of citizens who feel something should be done to prevent another attack. But is more gun laws really the solution?

Katherine Nordal from the American Psychological Association recently appeared on PBS News Hour on the topic of gun control and mental health and said, “from my perspective as a psychologist, very unfortunately over the last couple of decades we’ve seen a decrease in psychotherapies and evidence-based psychological interventions for mental health problems and much, much, much more emphases on prescribing medication.”

Is the problem how many rounds fit in one magazine, or is underfunded inadequate mental health programs that limit access to unstable individuals who ultimately commit violent acts while being prescribed antipsychotic medication as their only means of treatment? We should try to curb gun violence by placing stricter background checks to ensure the mentally unstable and criminals have less access to guns. About 40 percent of people who purchase firearms from individuals and gun shows, go through no formal background checks and there are no mental health screening.

Owning a gun is as American as apple pie, a right that the majority exercises responsibly.

According to the census report, the United States population is 314 million and statistics from the Congressional Research Service there are approximately 310 million firearms in America, almost a gun for every person.

Responsible gun ownership, expanding background checks that keep guns out of the hands of criminals, combined with better access to mental health treatment and adequately enforcing existing laws may do a whole lot more than just passing new gun control legislation.