Students Should Get Involved to Change Gun Laws

By NINA SCHULZE
On March 8, 2017

The mass-shooting index from the National Gun Violence Archive reads like a calendar. Most of these shootings will never make national news or spark national and international outrage. We are horror struck and left asking: how could this happen? Then there are calls for stricter gun control, which seem to never to go anywhere. Why? As per usual, the answer is more complicated than what fits into a sound bite. The basic idea is that in the U.S. firearm ownership is a constitutional right. This sets the stage for the entire debate; because gun ownership is seen as a right and any sort of restrictions you place upon it is seen as curtailing that right.

The Second Amendment requires that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

The Second Amendment codifies the right to a firearm, which means that every time a law is up for review concerning gun control it lands before the Supreme Court and is extremely unlikely for it to be found constitutional. Simply put, the same review process that applies to the right to habeas corpus applies to the right to bear arms and therefore gun control, which makes it extremely hard to have sweeping gun control.

Amending the U.S. Constitution is like climbing Mt. Everest with no oxygen tanks. Is it possible? Yes, but very unlikely. The most common way to amend the Constitution is having the amendment pass both in the House and the Senate by a two-thirds majority, and then by three-fourths of state legislatures. This means not only does this amendment have to pass through a deeply divided federal government. It also has to pass through 38 state legislatures, all with their own interests and their own agendas to worry about. To illustrate this, in the last 270 years in America, only 17 amendments have passed.

Yet, the effects of lax gun control are evident.

In modern America, you are seven times more likely to die from violence and six times more likely to be accidentally killed by a gun than other developed nations, according to CBS News. Yet despite all the obstacles, things seem to be changing, with support for stricter gun control steadily trending upwards. Maybe America is waking up to the dark reality of gun violence.

Many college students ask: what can I do? Here’s what you can do: call or write your local, state and national representatives and voice your concern and most importantly, vote! We seem to have been defeated by the ever crushing reality of the American status quo without realizing that the status quo is only as good as the people submitting to it. America’s best days are always ahead of us, the only thing we have to do is seize it. 

nschulze@ramapo.edu

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