Son of a Gun

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Drawn By: Sarah Jurkoic

A dark cloud has hung over the United States since the shooting that transpired in Newtown, Conn. at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012.

One act of violence has affected the entire nation and has caused a revamp on the discussion of gun control in America.

“The issue of gun control is a classic problem of freedom versus order,” said Stephen Baker, Ph.D., a Jacksonville University political science professor. “One problem in which the Supreme Court has rarely had to answer.”

It is a discussion that shakes the very fabric of the country’s Constitution, an argument that has ripped through this country, and a debate that has plagued America ever since the founding fathers framed those famous, ever-familiar Second Amendment words.

“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.”

For the Supreme Court, it is quite a conundrum to interpret what the founding fathers meant by this amendment, yet the decisions they have made have been crucial to the gun control argument and its divisive qualities.

Some of the most recent Supreme Court cases interpreting the Second Amendment include District of Columbia v. Heller in which the court ruled 5 to 4 that there is a constitutional right to keep a loaded handgun at home for self-defense.

Though the ruling addressed a key issue of gun control, it failed to address the question of whether that Second Amendment ruling extended from federal law to state and local law.

In June 2010, however, the court ruled in 5 to 4 favor of extending those same rights to state and local government in the landmark McDonald v. Chicago ruling.

Though these two cases showed significant progress in the interpretation of the Second Amendment, there still is the question of what specific gun laws can be answered with Second Amendment protection.

Some may still think that these two recent Supreme Court cases should be enough to quell anti-gun advocates for some time, but Baker says that because of recent mass shootings, such as Sandy Hook, the nation is still clamoring for change.

“We have to ask ourselves that in order to secure a society, is the regulation of guns appropriate?” Baker proposed.

Is it appropriate? Are we ready for further change in the way we regulate guns?

According to a December poll released by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 49 percent of the public say it is more important to control gun ownership as opposed to 42 percent that say that it is important to protect the right of Americans to own guns.

The popular public opinion against gun ownership led President Obama to call upon Congress in January 2013 to toughen America’s gun laws.

He laid out a plan that included a renewed ban on assault weapons, limits on high-capacity magazines, expanded background checks for gun purchases and new gun trafficking laws to crack down on the spread of weapons across the country, according to a recent article in The New York Times.

He also stated that he would act without Congressional approval to increase the enforcement of existing gun laws and improve the way information is distributed among federal agencies to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.

President Obama’s new Gun Proposals have caused mixed reactions among the public.

According to a January poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, the political parties are split. For Republicans, 57 percent find Obama’s proposals to be too far, while 7 percent believe they are not far enough, and 25 percent say they are about right.

While for Democrats, 10 percent say the changes are too far, while 21 percent say they are not far enough, and 55 percent say they are about right.

Along with polls from political parties, the same poll covers college students as well. Among students with some college 33 percent believe Obama’s proposals to be too far, while 6 percent believe they are not far enough, and 43 percent believe they are about right.

The percentages from the poll demonstrate the perspectives among JU students.

“I can’t say that I agree with President Obama’s policies nor with anti-gun advocacy,” said David Gonzales, sophomore international business major. “I worry about finding myself in situation in which I will need a gun and my ability to protect myself.”

Gonzalez’s reasoning is consistent with similar pro-gun affiliated organizations such as the National Rifle Association. The NRA has maintained a strong support for no gun control and has attributed the reason for mass shootings to video games and the mental stability of the shooters themselves.

Senior communications major Jake Huxtable finds himself on the other side of that argument.

“I definitely see the need for stronger gun control in our country,” Huxtable said. “The status quo cannot remain the same with this issue so I’ve been pleased with the President’s support of stronger gun control laws.”

Huxtable said that he does not believe in the complete abolishment of guns in the country but does see the need for stronger background checks when purchasing firearms.

It is unclear where the gun control talks will be taken from here. For Baker, the debate will have to continue in Congress.

“It will have to run its course in Congress,” Baker said. “I think from this point on we’re going to see a lot of fireworks from both sides. The hope is that they will be able to work something out that is reasonable for both sides.”

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