Divided opinions

Is the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution still relevant in today's society?

Article by Kaitlyn Kirchner | Torch Photographer


Hi friends, let’s talk.

I know this is a very controversial topic, and I’d like to preface this column by addressing my background with guns.

I grew up in a tiny town about ten minutes outside of Flint. My classmates occasionally rode tractors to school, and I lived on 30 acres of farmland. Firearms were not uncommon.

I shot my first bear at thirteen. I was in eighth grade, still in middle school. The following year, I shot another one. In a family of hunters, I grew up around guns and I feel comfortable around them. My personal experience with them will not be the same as experiences of others, and therefore I am open to listening to the ideas and opinions of others.

I, like many people, don’t stand on either end of the spectrum when it comes to gun control. I hover somewhere in the middle. I don’t think that a gun ban is necessary. Conversely, I support the push for more thorough background checks and other measures that make it harder for guns to end up in the wrong hands.

The Second Amendment was written in a time period where those who wrote it could not even imagine what the future of arms would look like. As technology changes, so should legislation. I agree that as a country, we have fought tooth and nail against oppression. I certainly understand the desire to arm ourselves against a tyrannical government, to stand and fight for the rights we all deserve.

My primary point is that while I understand the logic and I agree with some of the pro-gun stances, I know that the system is flawed.

As of January 18, 2019, there have been 11 mass shootings so far, according to gunviolencearchive.org. Shootings like this happen so often that we are desensitized to the atrocity of it all. We don’t hear about many of these shootings anymore because there are just too many of them. That needs to be one of the issues at the forefront of this issue. People are dying from gun violence at an alarming rate.

Very few stand out in our mind: Columbine; Sandy Hook; Aurora, CO; Stoneman Douglas. How many people must die before things change? Someone walked into an elementary school and shot 20 children and six adults. I’d like to take a moment to let that sink in. Children between the age of six and seven.

I know that any rational person is aware of the horror of these incidents. Nonetheless, I hear comments about how it would have never happened if there was an armed security guard, or that the government faked these tragedies.

Here’s where my real issue lies.

I am sick and tired of hearing gun enthusiasts whine, essentially, because organizations like March for Our Lives are trying to save lives and advocate for making this country safer.

Challengers of gun control are as outspoken about their opinions, if not more than gun control activists. What comes to mind is Kaitlin Bennett, a Kent State University graduate who posed for photos on campus with an AR-10, and a graduation cap that said, ‘Come and take it.’

Recently, Bennett tweeted a photo of herself in Pittsburgh openly carrying an AR-15. The tweet refers to the mayor of Pittsburgh and his intent to ban certain guns. Now, as a citizen and a journalist, I have no problem with Bennett standing up for her rights. However, as a citizen and a woman, I am terrified to see a photo of someone holding an AR-15 in public, taunting gun control activists to ‘Come and take it.’

I don’t interpret ‘I’m standing up for my rights’ from this photo. I get ‘I’m carrying a deadly weapon in public and I could kill a bunch of people if I wanted to.’

There should absolutely be no place for people like Kaitlin Bennett in this country. People like Kaitlin Bennett are not trying to stand up for the right to bear arms against our government, if need be. Don’t let them fool you, they don’t care about making the country a safer place, they only care about keeping their guns for their own reasons.

Whether it’s fun or not to shoot an automatic rifle is irrelevant. People are dying. No one needs an automatic rifle to shoot for fun. Guns are a tool to be used either for hunting or protection. They’re not toys, and you shouldn’t get to keep them just because they’re fun

Article by Johnny Parshall | Opinions Editor


Let us talk, indeed.

I consider folks like Kaitlin Bennett of Kent State University to be considerably ignorant, blindly following a subculture that behaves hotheaded, stubborn and insensitive to the needs and beliefs of millions. Her public posting of a photograph featuring her toting an automatic weapon and displaying a sheepish grin was enough to make Alex Jones of InfoWars drool, and many others to facepalm their eyebrows off.

Public shootings are tragic. Mass shootings more so. The fact so many mentally ill individuals can so easily obtain such powerful tools of death is a stain on American culture, and some- thing our legislative government should be fighting hammer and nail to defeat and destroy.

But does that mean they must amend our constitution’s Second Amendment?

Maybe. To an extent.

I believe in modest gun control: background checks, psychological evaluations, stronger sales regulations, et cetera. But I do not believe our populace should rid ourselves of these weapons entirely.

I am a scholar of history. I dedicate my life and studies to events that happened hundreds of years ago — what shaped them, why they happened and, in some cases, why they happen no longer.

We are the land of the free. Unlike other free democratic countries such as Great Britain, Germany and Australia, we were not granted freedom by our government. We took it. We pried it from cold, dead hands. Our country may seem young but we have one of the longest-serving constitutional governments on Earth. We remain such for two reasons: because our leaders want to actively serve us, and because if they do not, we will remove them by force. We have that power and that ability because we are armed.

To believe we are safe from autocracy and authoritarian control because we are “modern” or “enlightened” is a major misunderstanding. Russia gained democratic independence more than 30 years ago, and it has since lapsed into a quasi-authoritarian state. There are plenty of other examples like this over the past 100 years: North Korea, Libya, former Czechoslovakia.

We are not merely blessed that sort of thing does not happen in these United States of America. We actively prevent it through our Bill of Rights.

Kaitlin Bennett is a graduate of Kent State University. Let us not forget it was exactly there that nearly 50 years ago four students were killed and nine others injured by national guardsmen firing into a crowd of protesters. This event scared millions of Americans. The fact that this could happen ANY day to ANY group is much, much scarier.

I am by ZERO means suggesting we will ever require armed conflict with our government or military, or another civil war. I believe our country is past that notion. I am not paranoid. I do not believe liberal politicians want to remove our weapons to gain better control of our people. At least, I don’t want to believe that.

I AM suggesting we have managed to prevent that happening for so long because we haven’t significantly changed our gun laws.

I am divided. But if I absolutely must pick a side, it is the stronger side, both argumentatively and defensively. Therefore, keep the Second Amendment as it stands. Let us target the other overlying factors behind such relatively, sadly common tragedies first. Mentally ill radical individuals are not dissuaded by red tape such as “laws” or “regulations.” It’s just as easy to make a bomb as it is to purchase an AR-10, maybe even easier.

It is not about personal protection. It is not about hunting. And in neither cases was it ever.

I might receive a lot of hate mail, but that does not — and cannot — change the way I feel.