I believe that the United States and its relationship with its residents is circular in nature. U.S. residents give up certain “˜rights’ in order to follow national/state laws, these laws protect them from each other and from the government, this protection also grants us freedom — the freedom to speak, worship and gain through enterprise, equally, and these freedoms are what define our citizenship. However, this freedom is corrupted when residents cease to trust the government for protection, and when that happens, residents get guns. I, personally and as a resident and citizen of a democratic nation, do not associate my freedom with the ownership of a firearm.

In the past three weeks, there have been three major shootings in large public arenas. The first occurred in a movie theatre by James Holmes. Holmes was equipped with a gas mask, load-bearing vest and three firearms, as well as a tear-gas grenade — which he initially released to disable theatre-goers — and other military-grade protective equipment. This is what most people would classify as a domestic terrorist. What I have an issue with is that, unlike most foreign terrorists, he could legally purchase this equipment.

The large majority purchase things in order to use them, why would that be different when it comes to the purchase of assault rifles with 100-round magazines, 12-gauge tactical shotguns and tear-gas grenades? What were the people across the counter thinking when they sold this equipment to Holmes? What was the government thinking to allow it? I am well aware, especially living in the South, that hunting is alive and well. However, if you are trying to kill an animal that requires 100-round magazines, chances are you should first contact U.S. Fish and Wildlife. These guns were meant for killing one thing, people, and that is what they did. That is what they were made to do. These were not hunting rifles. And tear gas is not used for deer. Holmes killed 12 people with these weapons and injured about 70 others.

Last week, only three hours down the road from Trinity University, another gunman killed two people with an assault rifle, which he also legally purchased. If these men wanted to, they could have purchased other equipment in order to impersonate military officers. They could have attacked a base, a hospital, a bus station, a mall, a church or an airport with the same equipment. There is no reason ““ no collection too precious, no good nights sleep too important ““ that everyday citizens of the U.S. should be able to purchase machine guns, assault rifles and military grade equipment such as tear-gas grenades. Reserving these rights to the military and police of the country is what makes them powerful enough to protect us in the first place, and putting these materials in the hands of civilians puts everyone’s lives at risk, even those they are meant to protect.

Growing up in Texas, I am well aware of the sacred nightstand handgun, meant to ease the mind and make you feel protected if an armed burglar enters. However, I say, why not disarm the burglar? When I applied for a job this summer in the food service industry, I received a background check. If I apply for essentially any job, I will receive and permit the same check. I also had to take safety courses to ensure that I would be a responsible food handler, similar to the tests I took when I received my first driver’s license. Nationally, guns are not as regulated as cars or even jobs — in fact, it is up to the state to regulate the purchase of firearms, and states such as Texas and Colorado, where these two shootings occurred, have fairly lenient gun-laws. It is not coincidence that, according to the American Bar Association, “The rate of death from firearms in the United States is eight times higher than that in its economic counterparts in other parts of the world. In 2003, there were 30,136 firearm-related deaths in the U.S.” The high rates of death are due to our barely-regulated gun laws, and the purchase of any gun should require a background check and safety course in order to reduce this statistic.

I honestly think that there is no way to completely prevent murder from firearms. I am aware that black markets exist. I know that, unfortunately, some people are just crazy and want to harm others, and I know that people with non-violent pasts can be violent in their futures. However, there is no need for the United States to maintain that owning a machine gun or assault rifle gives us freedom, and if you have committed a violent crime, you have given up the freedom to own any firearm. The regulation of guns is an important part of the future of the United States; if the population is armed, it can never truly be free.

Faith Ozer is a sophomore majoring in political science.


  1. Please learn about firearms. Nobody has machine guns or military weapons. There’s no such thing as “assault weapons” either, it’s a made up political term. An AR15 is a black rifle like any other wooden rifle, that ban is based on cosmetics. Makes no sense and did nothing to prevent crime.

  2. I’m sorry if you believe that these were assumptions. However, all information on the shootings I researched extensively through credible news articles and those were the terms used.

  3. the term “assault weapon” is not a technical term describing an actual type of firearm but rather a political term denoting whatever firearm the anti-gun crowd wishes to demonize, regulate, and ban at a given point in time.

  4. “The regulation of guns is an important part of the future of the United States; if the population is armed, it can never truly be free.”

    You cannot intimidate an armed man/woman.
    We are, and will remain free, because we are armed.

  5. “the purchase of any gun should require a background check”

    You really don’t know anything, do you.
    Background checks have been the law for many years.

  6. “There is no reason – that everyday citizens of the U.S. should be able to purchase machine guns, assault rifles and military grade equipment such as tear-gas grenades.”

    Please point out to me where I may purchase such “military equipment”? BE SPECIFIC! provide links, give examples. Anecdotes don’t count.

  7. “if you are trying to kill an animal that requires 100-round magazines, chances are you should first contact U.S. Fish and Wildlife.”

    As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State:

    “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.”

    Which part of the above grants us the right to hunt?

    The Supreme court has ruled! Our right to “keep and bear arms” is in no way connected to service in the militia.

    Our bill of rights does not in any way grant, give, or convey to us (free people) any rights. As free people we already posses all our rights. Including some not listed in our bill of rights.

    Ninth Amendment – Protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Constitution.

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    In closing, if your going to write about guns, and, or our “right to bear” them, you should first know something about them.

    Sincerely, oldgoat

  8. What the anti-gun crowd won’t tell you when they spew numbers of firearms deaths:

    Their numbers include justifiable homicides: such as police shootings and in the defense of self or loved ones.

    Guns are used about 2.5-million times per year in the U.S. to prevent crimes (defense), and in more than 70% of those NOT A SHOT IS FIRED… the mere presence of a gun is used to hold the criminal for police, or send him fleeing, thereby preventing the crime.

  9. First off, I respect your belief about the nature of the relationship between the government and the citizens; however, I fail to see it like that. Government derives it’s power from the consent of the governed, and government’s core responsibility is to protect the liberty of the citizens. These liberties are inalienable rights that the founders codified and specifically pointed out in the Constitution. I won’t go into a civics lesson on the Constitution, as you most likely have done so already.

    You admitted in your first paragraph that you “do not associate your freedom with the ownership of a gun.” This leads me to ascertain that you do not own one, and that is your choice. But this phrase is key to the rest of your viewpoint.

    Additionally, you got the order wrong when you say “this freedom is corrupted when residents cease to trust the government for protection, and when that happens, residents get guns.” Government at best should be viewed with a suspicious eye. Government’s only job is to grow. That’s it. Consolidate power and grow. It is a necessary evil in order to live in a world that is not governed by any single international body. Whenever a bill is passed by our government, or some extraconstitutional power is assumed by any single member of government, freedom is lost. You may not see it or feel it, but it is lost.

    I applaud you on your correct characterization of Holmes as a domestic terrorist, but generally a terrorist has a specific goal in mind. Generally a political goal. Holmes had none. He was, in my honest opinion, out to only strike fear.

    I can also agree with your statement that we purchase things to use them, but sometimes people purchase things to collect, store, or display. Up until the point he left his apartment with his mission in mind, did Holmes do anything illegal? No. That is why he was able to purchase the equipment. His background checks for the firearms purchase were clean. I cannot speak for the purchase of tear gas, but I also know that if you want it, you could probably find someone to get it for you. You could also look on the internet to figure out how to make it yourself.

    You also must not know many hunters in your area. An AR-15 is an excellent varmint and small game rifle. A shotgun with pistol grip is also an excellent self protection rifle while on a hunt (think really angry predators). Not very accurate, but accurate enough at close range.

    Machine (or more correctly termed “automatic”) weapons are already very difficult to purchase without having the proper licenses and living in a state that allows ownership of machine guns.

    May I ask you, how do you define “assault rifle”? Assault is an action committed by an individual on another. A rifle, no matter how scary, cannot by itself commit an act of assault. But can someone wielding a bat commit assault? A knife? A 2×4? Rolling pin? My point is, just because a weapon is modeled after a military weapon does not make it any more of an assault weapon than any of the other inanimate objects listed above.

    Your paragraph about growing up in Texas and having a background check is rather disjointed. First of all, no one has a right to a job. It is a privilege you choose to exercise on your own. Your prospective employer determines if you are a good match for the position and stipulates a few more steps you must accomplish before taking the job. Again, it is not a right. Owning a car is not a right. It is a privilege. To do so, you must accomplish certain things (insurance, training, etc). In the area of firearm purchases, no state can infringe upon the ownership of firearms, yet they can make it as difficult as possible to own one. And a few do so. Some are, as you put it, lenient. But ALL states do have to conduct NICS background checks. If something comes up in that check, then the dealer does not have to sell the weapon to that individual. It doesn’t matter how lenient a states laws are, dealers still have to use this system.

    The figure you cite, does it account for justifiable self-defense related deaths as well as accidental or for only criminal use of firearms? If it accounts for all deaths related to firearms, then the figure is misleading and designed to evoke more fear through a shockingly higher number.

    Lets do an exercise. For the sake of argument, I will use the number of NICS background checks for 2002 and figure the percentage of guns used in those deaths to the number of guns purchased in 2002. It can be safely assumed that each check represents one (1) gun purchase. I will assume too that only one gun was used in each firearm death. This is necessary as there are a lot of variables to account for that the data simply does not reflect.

    Background checks for 2002: 8,454,322; denials: 135,739 (source: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/reports/03-04-operations-report/ops_report_2003_04 yes, 2002 numbers are in that report). That means, potentially, there were 8,318,583 purchases of guns that year. Using that as a static baseline for the minimum guns available from the previous year, 30,136 firearms related deaths comes out to be 0.36% of guns from 2002 could possibly have been used in deaths. Now we know that number is actually much smaller, due to the number of guns out there previous to 2003, but can you cite a statistic that small when it comes to deaths caused where a vehicle was involved? I phrase it that way so as to include deaths caused by working on one, being under one while working (or being stupid and drunk), crashing into a parked vehicle while riding a bike, suicides by pedestrians throwing themselves into the path of a vehicle…etc. For 2003, 42,643 people died in vehicle related incidents. How many millions more vehicles are owned and/or operated in the United States in 2003 as compared to guns? I cannot find a figure for it, but it is safe to say more people own cars than they do guns.

    I counter your final point with this: An unarmed population will never be free if the government is the only body that is armed. As said by Hitler: “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing.” As said by Noah Webster, 1787: “Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive.”

    I would rather take my chances owning a gun of my choice, acting as a responsible American citizen and man in my use and securing of that gun, and teach my son the right way to handle it should he so choose to do so.

    The point I am trying to make is that your viewpoint is biased from perspective of someone who does not own a firearm and likely never fired one and therefore cannot understand why others don’t think like you do. You have been conditioned through fear that guns are bad and make people bad.

    The only government gun control measure I find reasonable is a background check. Otherwise, there are plenty of other laws on the books that can deal with homicides and other crimes committed with guns (or any other weapon).

    Gun control does not seek to control the object, it seeks to control the individual. Governments seeking to control the individual either fall, or become tyrannical and eventually fail. This is why the founders saw fit to specifically protect guns as a method for the right of self-defense through the 2nd Amendment.

    • The 30,000 firearm related deaths includes all incidents of firearms, those not related to war, police use or suicide or many other things were at around 16,000. That is still far too much.

  10. Parkmana: I 100% agree with police officers and military personnel holding weapons on their person, obviously. This can save them as well as others and I agree, often just the presence of a gun helps the situation. However, my stance was on civilians and the general public’s use and purchase of firearms.

  11. Tom: you have many strong points, so I will address the few that I can in a limited amount of time.
    “Assault” as in an assault rifle are the terms which I used to describe semi automatic rifles which are not termed for hunting. This term has been utilized for many decades to describe firearms such as these, and I derived it from the official reports of these shootings.
    Gun control, in its essence is to control GUNS and their presence in the public, not the people who purchase them. Purchased firearms are less regulated than cars. I have to maintain, by law, a license to drive a vehicle, have it registered and inspected by the state in which I live, and I must pass courses allowing me to safely drive one. I think all of the above should also be applied to the sell of ANY gun.
    I completely agree with you on the idea of background checks, however, I would go further by saying that there are certain weapons which civilians should not own. If you would like to research the recent drug-bust in L.A. related to marijuana, you can see a great instance of which a legal weapon, purchased at a store, was converted from semi-auto to fully automatic. Weapons like these are not a favor to anyone, especially the police and military which lay their lives on the line to protect the United States.

  12. Old Goat – Military grade equipment such as tear gas grenades, the protective equipment which the Colorado shooter was using to prevent fire, and other military grade uniforms and firearms.

  13. Also, I would like to add that the Right to Bear Arms was placed in the constitution NOT just to protect citizens from the government, but because at the time the newly named Americans were protecting their country from a possible invading army and were in a much more lawless state then we are now. There was not a regulated police force or army, they were their own.

  14. Faith, I would like to add my two cents worth to this discussion, if I may.

    On the question of what is an assault weapon and who should be allowed the “right” to possess them, the term is derived from the original assault weapon, the German StG (SturmGewehr, or literally “assault” or “Attack” Rifle) 44, a captured one of which then tank mechanic Mikhail Kalashnikov drew his inspiration for what has become the poster child for “assault rifles”, the AK-47.

    As to whether private possession of these is protected under the 2nd amendment, I read the U.S. v Miller SCOTUS decision as implicitly affirming that. That is, their decision to uphold the conviction of the two defendants in that case for the illegal interstate transportation of a sawed-off shotgun was that such a weapon was “..not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense”, thus reasoning that any weapon that WAS a part of “the ordinary military equipment”, that is, small arms like the M-16, a selective-fire* rifle, IS protected.

    *Note: Selective fire means that the weapon may be selected to fire semi-automatically (one shot for each pull of the trigger) or fully automatically where it continues to fire as long as the trigger is held.

    As to the issue of whether the 2nd amendment was written to protect the right to have arms necessary to feed one’s self and family, those who wrote and supported it were *very* clear that a primary justification was so that “every man be armed” to resist or overthrow *> ANY <* government that became tyrannical (their natural tendency) or "became destructive to the ends" of securing the God-given rights of it's citizens.

    I, like you, hope and pray that we may NEVER find ourselves in a situation where we may be called upon to use such weapons to defend ourselves from our own government. BUT, as one who has some passing understanding of history, I firmly believe, again as our founders did, that a serious indication that such an unhappy state is imminent is when government sets about depriving it's SUBJECTS of the means, both legally (NBP, etc) and physically of resisting such usurpations.

  15. Faith,

    It seems as though this system thinks I posted my reply once before, or I am moderated and my reply is stuck in “reply limbo.” So I too will address (and readdress) a point in or two in your list of replies.

    Faith, assault is an action. A weapon is an inanimate object incapable of assault by itself. Assault is an action committed by a person who may or may not be using an inanimate object. This is why many gun owners are rather picky about the term.

    Licenses are for privileged actions (driving, food service, day care, etc), not for rights. I suppose the unique thing about the 2A is that it guaranteed an object to the citizens, not just an ability. Do you need a license to speak? Do you need to be registered to enjoy the full protection of the 5th Amendment? Do you need to be certified for protection under the 4th? I hope you see my point. Responsible people will see the inherent danger of guns, and figure out that they need to have some sort of safety class. The great thing about that is, for the most part those classes can be found for free. However, owning a firearm is a right, not a privilege, and “shall not be infringed” therefore licensing people to own firearms is not something that can be done legally at the federal level. States are free to do that, as many do, but you should do some research into gun registration and its correlation to despotic rule and associated horrific crimes.

    Thank you for bringing up the illegal conversion of semiautomatic weapons to fully automatic (and for the sake of the rest of the audience, if you are going to do research to make a point please post a link to the article to save time for your audience…it actually does you less of a service to suggest someone search for sources to news items you use as justification for your points). One does not have to research the article to know that the individuals who were arrested are going to face an additional charge for converting that weapon, so we know there are already laws against that. In this, and other instances, the laws have not stopped people from converting those weapons and it would be foolish to make more laws if the ones we have do not prevent the action entirely.

    This is where I get to the core of my argument about gun control: It’s about controlling people, and you made my point for me: “in its essence is to control GUNS and their presence in the public, not the people who purchase them.” This is a contradictory statement based on legislation presented to Congress under the guise of gun control. You have gun registrations, micro stamping, registering ammunition, data collection and retention…the list could go on and there are problems with ALL of those initiatives. Those initiatives control people, not the weapon. The idea behind gun control is to eventually, through regulation, limit the type of weapon a person may purchase to something that has the least potential to cause much damage and cannot be concealed. The only weapon I can think of that fits this description is a black powder, single shot rifle more reminiscent of a musket than a modern rifle.

    Look, if you want true gun regulation, or removal, from society you are going to have to propose to repeal the 2A. Gun control advocates never seem to bring up that elephant in the room (repeal). Probably because even if a repeal amendment could make it out of Congress, and it likely could have at the beginning of Obama’s term, it certainly would never be ratified by enough states so as to become law.

    Your comment about regulated police forces is inaccurate as police forces existed during colonial times, and regulated as well as could be. One could also argue that we are in a very lawless state now, given the news. And yes, there was no professional army serving a central authority. However, armed citizens do more to protect a society than they do to hurt it. You may not remember the string of robberies that were happening in Florida where foreign tourists were targeted, but the criminals, when interviewed later, admitted they targeted the tourists BECAUSE those tourists were unarmed.

    Further, I agree with your point about armed citizens being needed to repel an invading force. I still say that the armed citizens of today would do the same, since the military has been downsized over the years and may not be able to defend the US as it would have under Reagan given all of our other military missions around the world.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

four × two =