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Hearing from both sides


Investigating differing perspectives on gun ownership  

Controversies concerning gun ownership have been unrelenting in recent years, in scenes ranging from disagreements at the dinner table to heated arguments in Congress. In the wake of numerous mass shootings and protest events like the “March For Our Lives” gun control movement in March 2018, sophomore Hunter Breese and senior Elizabeth Phillips gave their perspectives on gun ownership to spark conversation on both ends of the debate.  

[cbtabs][cbtab title=”Elizabeth Phillips”]

Senior Elizabeth Phillips says that she wouldn’t own a firearm; she simply wouldn’t have any use for it. Although she believes in Second Amendment rights, she doesn’t hunt, nor is she concerned about using a firearm for self defense.  

    “I think the Second Amendment is important. I don’t think we should get rid of it; people should have the right to bear arms — to an extent. The police and the government should definitely be allowed to have firearms, and civilians should be able to if they obtain them legally.” Phillips said.

    Despite her belief in the Second Amendment, Phillips does advocate for more gun control reform in the United States. 

   “I think making guns harder to get would be a good idea. I don’t think the crime rate would go down, but gun violence would go down somewhat, and a little bit is better than nothing. People are still going to obtain weapons illegally somehow, but overall it would be a positive change,” Phillips said. 

   Phillips’ claim advocated for stricter policies on obtaining firearms, but she places emphasis on her belief that stricter policies would be focused on individuals at risk of misusing these weapons rather than the general population. Phillips proposes more detailed mental health check ups and background checks to make it harder to obtain a gun, and she presents a question to lawful gun owners. 

  “With all the recent shootings, I think background checks would be great, though they really wouldn’t solve the issue. I would say maybe more of a mental health check-in, so if a psychologist thinks that they are mentally unstable or they wouldn’t have the right judgement when it comes to using a firearm, then they shouldn’t be allowed to own one. And what would the downsides be to more gun control? If you are someone who obeys the law and you don’t have any kind of mental illness or dangerous thoughts then you can still obtain a weapon,” Phillips stated. 

   Phillips feels relatively safe living in a nation where gun ownership is legal, but along with disliking the thought of having armed security on campus, she still has some concerns about living among firearms. 

   “It’s a concern of mine that anyone off the street can have a gun on them and just decide to cause harm or terror.  That can’t happen in other countries where citizens aren’t allowed to have guns. I trust the government that if something like that were to ever happen that the police would come and stop it,” Phillips said.  

    Phillips conveys inconsistencies in enacting more gun control reform, as not all armed offenders obtained their weapons legally.  

   “I don’t think legalized gun ownership is to blame for higher crime rates. I think a lot of crimes are committed with illegal weapons or those that are not legally obtained,” Phillips concluded.  

[/cbtab][cbtab title=”Hunter Breese “]

Sophomore Hunter Breese lives in a gun-owning family and is a proud supporter of the Second Amendment and pro-gun organizations such as the National Rifle Association of America (NRA). His family uses firearms for more than just self defense, and he believes that the Second Amendment holds greater meaning than simply defending oneself from intruders. 

   “One of the biggest things we use guns for is hunting. I’m a very strong believer in the Second Amendment and I support the NRA, which all of my family members are lifetime members of. Civilians should be able to own guns because our founding fathers wanted us to be able to fight against a tyrannical government,” Breese said. 

   Breese lives in a nation of citizens with mixed opinions on gun ownership, where only three-in-ten adults admit to personally owning a gun (Pew Research, 2018). Among those mixed opinions, Breese has issues with claims he believes are frequently made in arguments against gun ownership. 

   “‘Guns kill people’ — I hear this one a lot. Guns are inanimate objects and they can’t kill people by themselves. They do not go grow legs and kill people. A person with a brain pulls that trigger knowing what they’re doing with that gun. Also, I have heard, ‘The NRA is a terrorist organization.’ They’re not a terrorist organization. The NRA exists only to uphold the Second Amendment and to protect the rights of gun owners all across the country,” Breese stated. 

    Breese also believes that semi-automatic rifles are necessary and that the argument against them is misrepresenting their true nature. 

   “When they talk about banning semi-automatic rifles they’re just referring to the AR-15s [ArmaLite Rifle]. They look at semi-automatic .22s [.22 caliber rifles] and they say, ‘Oh, that one’s fine.’ It’s just AR-15s because of how big of a name it has and how much damage it has done. I think a semi-automatic rifle can be beneficial to most as far as hunting goes. For ranchers that have to kill hogs because they tear everything up, the best way to get rid of them is with semi-automatic rifles just because it’s so quick,” Breese said.  

   The number of gun homicides in the United States is a large contributor for arguments against legalized gun ownership. In 2017 alone, 14,542 murders were committed with a firearm (Pew Research, 2019). Breese believes that some measures can be taken to lessen these statistics, but he affirms that legal gun owners are not to blame.  

   “I believe you should remain able to own a gun the same age you’re allowed to vote, unless you’re a felon. I absolutely believe in background checks and that people should be thoroughly checked however many times it takes to make sure that the firearms are not in the wrong hands. People with mental issues should be excluded, but if a doctor said he or she is mentally capable of owning a firearm, that would be all right. But it’s the people that get the guns illegally that do most of the crime. It’s the criminals that steal them or get them on the black market,” Breese stated. 

   If more gun control were to come about, Breese believes that it wouldn’t solve anything. 

   “Taking guns away from the good people isn’t going to stop the bad people from committing crimes,” Breese concluded.  


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