Cedar Crest College newspaper since 1923
Emily Baxter, Web Editor
I remember the very first time I ever held a gun. It was a .22 automatic rifle with polished oak. I positioned it on target and my finger itched for the trigger. Two seconds later, I hit the target—dead on.
I wasn’t there to kill anyone. I was there because my grandpa thought it was important for his grandchildren to defend themselves from perverts and rapists but also because guns are great for hunting. My grandfather is 70-years-old and can still can hit a raccoon from the front porch when it’s yards away.
I want to protect myself. That’s why I want to pack heat. I don’t have to at Cedar Crest because of our great Campus Police, but when I turn 21, I’m signing up for a gun class and purchasing a handgun of my own.
The gun control debate woke up after the Sandy Hook tragedy. Unfortunately, that brought a lot of heat into a topic that looks pretty clear to me. The information people have about “assault rifles” and “military weapons” are not correct, so it’s time to ask questions and get the right answers.
QUESTION: What is the difference between “assault rifle” and “assault weapons”?
ANSWER: According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, an assault rifle is a “military firearm that is chambered for ammunition of reduced size or propellant charge and that has the capacity to switch between semiautomatic and fully automatic fire.” This means that an assault rifle can fire multiple rounds of bullets or one round of bullets. Also, in the United States, the restrictions on selling these guns to the public are specific: the gun must not have the ability to full automatic fire, and it should not have the capacity to fire military-grade cartridges.
As for “assault weapons,” it’s a little more complicated. Mostly, it means firearms and weapons that are military-grade or higher, but even that definition is used loosely. Gun politics in the United States have long used the word “assault weapons” in a number of different contexts. Assault weapons are more powerful than conventional firearms and may include weapons designed for on the offense in military operations.
QUESTION: What does it mean to have the right to bear arms, as per the 2nd Amendment in the Bill of Rights? And what about the whole militia thing? Is that amendment even useful? Come on, it’s not 1776 anymore!
ANSWER: The right to bear arms meant that back in the day, men in villages would defend themselves against an attack by forming a militia. That amendment still stands today. If we had another Civil War (God forbid), every city and town would be able to form a militia to defend themselves against attacks.
Yes, the right to “bear arms” is a constitutional right. I have the right to own a gun when I turn 21 (check your state for the age restrictions).
QUESTION: Are there background checks on gun owners?
ANSWER: Yes, there are background checks on gun owners. Background checks are known as the “National Instant Criminal Background Check System,” according to the Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI). Enacted in 1998, it has led to 100 million checks and 700,000 denials. The system works, but it’s lacking the ability to check for mental health issues. People who have severe mental disabilities should not own a gun.
Guns are not as bad as people perceive them to be. A person shoots the gun—the gun does damage, but the person is held responsible for the damages. I do think that having a gun when you’re out of college is a great idea if you’re living in an apartment by yourself. I don’t want to be caught with a rapist outside my door. A gun can save your life.