The challenges of gun control

Jensen Ready, Guest Columnist

The recent New Zealand mass shooting, based on prejudice and racism, was a terrible and disgusting act. It has left the world once again astounded at how these awful acts of hatred can continue to occur. Following the incident, New Zealand has decided to ban all assault rifles that were used in the terrorist attack on March 15.

Following this decision, there seemed to be an American outcry on social media blaming our own government for not being able to make the decisive choice that New Zealand has made regarding their ban on assault rifles. Although New Zealand is capable of making this choice, it is a lot harder for America do so. You shouldn’t expect a ban of assault rifles in the United States anytime soon.

There are key reasons why New Zealand was able to ban assault rifles and America can’t, which are differences in law and culture.

The legal aspect stems from the deep-rooted right Americans are granted through the Second Amendment. A debate about whether it’s obsolete and should either be modified or entirely repealed is a separate matter. The fact is that the Second Amendment does exist in America, and because of its existence and supported by many citizens in the country, it will continue to stand. But beyond that, lobbying prevents us from enacting or changing gun laws. The National Rifle Association has a non-profit sub-group called the NRA Institute for Legislative Action that acts as a PAC  — meaning that it lobbies politicians to continue supporting the Second Amendment and gun rights as a whole. New Zealand, on the other hand, does not have these complexities and when faced with the issue of gun violence the country was more easily able to ban assault rifles.

The other key reason America is different from New Zealand with regard to banning the use of guns is culture. In New Zealand, the police are not constantly armed. Officers there are required to open the trunks of their police cars and unlock their weapons from a safe. In America, police are armed when on duty. The difference in how guns play a role in our daily lives as citizens is evident from the fact that any time we see a police officer, we also see a gun, so in America, the use of guns is far more normalized. Beyond the difference in police officers, there is also the fact that many Americans love guns. The United States is unique in that it is one of the only countries in the world in which citizens seem to obsess over their weapons and taking those weapons from them in a democracy and constitutional republic proves to be a challenge when they are the ones voting people into office.

Overall, both legal and cultural issues pose a significant challenge posed when discussing the reformation or removal of gun ownership in America. So despite the fact that New Zealand, as well as other countries, have enacted gun controls in response to mass shootings, changing the laws in America is not going to happen overnight like it seemed to happen in New Zealand. But it could happen over a longer period of time. And while the future regarding gun ownership in America might seem bleak, but there are things we can do as citizen to change things. We can continue to educate others about the need for gun control and the importance of voting for the people who would work to put in place the laws we agree with. It is important that we do our part as citizens so that we can create a country that is safer and more desirable to live in.