OPINION: Now is the time to regulate the Second Amendment

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In the wake of yet another mass shooting tragedy, I write this with shaky hands, but there isn’t as much shock weighing me down as there has been in the past. The thing is, I’m not surprised.

Not a lot surprises me. The shooting in Las Vegas horrifies me, of course, but the element of surprise is gone. I am far too accustomed to waking up to a stream of news alerts announcing yet another record-breaking mass shooting in the United States.

When will enough be enough? When will we finally realize that maybe guns don’t kill people, but they sure as hell make it easier?

The right to bear arms is a right, yes. It was written into the U.S. Constitution by the Founding Fathers.

But I have issues with the idea that we should have unrestricted access to guns — weapons that have the potential to steal more than 50 lives and change the course of 500 more in 15 minutes or less.

The first big issue I take with the modern interpretation of the Second Amendment is how much time has removed us from the era of the Founding Fathers.

Weapons in 1776 were archaic compared to the rifles on the civilian market today. Their weapons were not semi-automatic. Their weapons took time to fire and reload. Their weapons could not be legally modified to fire 700 rounds per minute.

This idea that the Founding Fathers were able to accurately judge how dangerous unabridged access to guns would be in the 21st century is ludicrous. They could not have even begun to imagine the technology that would be available today.

The biggest and most important issue I have with the Second Amendment is that regulations against it don’t exist. The Bill of Rights preserves the rights of man donned upon us by the Creator, but that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be regulation of those rights.

Amendments are regulated because otherwise America would have been overtaken by anarchy a long time ago. The First Amendment, arguably the most important and groundbreaking idea presented by the Founding Fathers, is regulated. Among other things, the First Amendment ensures American citizens’ rights to peaceably assemble, speak and print a free press.

Threatening, hateful speech is not protected by the First Amendment, and rightfully so. Obscene speech — profanity, nudist expression, etc. — is also not ensured by the First Amendment. And finally, libelous or slanderous press is not protected by the First Amendment.

For example, I cannot run around Manhattan topless, threatening to kill someone while holding a newspaper with a false headline claiming that President Myers has committed genocide. (I feel the need to clarify: I will not do any of that and President Myers has not committed genocide).

None of what I would be doing in that hypothetical scenario is protected by the First Amendment. My expression would have been obscene. My statements would be threatening. My newspaper article would be fictitious and significantly damaging, therefore very libelous.

The First Amendment is regulated to protect us, and the Second Amendment should be as well. This is especially important now that Las Vegas has broken another gruesome record for shooting deaths in the 21st century.

Whenever people bring up the necessity of regulating gun purchases in the wake of tragedies like the shootings in Las Vegas, Orlando, Florida, or Sandy Hook Elementary School, there is always a slightly louder voice shouting the ever-famous call to liberty, “Don’t Tread on Me,” in fear that their rights are in real danger.

Realistically, a semi-automatic rifle isn’t required to protect a home, go hunting or whatever else people do with guns. Military-grade weapons should be reserved for military combat, not home defense.

Honestly, if you’re really that afraid of your house getting broken into by a combative enemy who would require you to have an AR-15 to defend your family, you might want to consider moving.

According to information published in the Gun Violence Archive, there have been over 270 mass shootings in the United States in 2017 so far, with a “mass shooting” defined as a single incident where at least four people are shot and/or killed.

The reality is that after so many mass shootings, any argument made against the regulation of gun purchases is invalid.

The discussion right now shouldn’t be about how to increase hotel security to prevent future actions such as those of Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock. People should be talking about how to make it harder for individuals to have access to weapons in the first place.

Stop professing your thoughts and prayers. Stop saying that it was a senseless tragedy. There’s a reason it happened on American soil, and there’s a way to stop it from happening again.

Kaylie McLaughlin is a freshman in mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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Kaylie Mclaughlin
My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the managing editor and audience engagement manager of the Collegian. Previously, I've been the editor-in-chief and the news editor. In the past, I have also contributed to the Royal Purple Yearbook and KKSU-TV. Off-campus, you can find my bylines in the Wichita Eagle, the Shawnee Mission Post and KSNT News. I grew up just outside of Kansas City in Shawnee, Kansas. I’m a senior in digital journalism with a minor in French and a secondary focus in international and area studies. As a third-generation K-Stater, I bleed purple and my goal is to serve the Wildcat community with accurate coverage.