OPINION: The Second Amendment: A Right of the People, or a Weapon of the Wicked?

OPINION: The Second Amendment: A Right of the People, or a Weapon of the Wicked?

By Tom Peti

A recent school shooting in Uvalde has left 21 people dead, the majority of them being elementary age children. This tragic event has sparked much debate over the 2nd amendment, or the right to bear arms. Many people both online and in person have cited the statistic that there has been more mass shootings than days this year, however this is not entirely true. A mass shooting is defined by the Gun Violence Archive, which people cite this statistic from, as an event in which four or more people are injured and/or killed by a firearm. I fully believe that one death is too many, but it should be noted that school shootings are not nearly as common as many people believe. As of 2018, public mass killings claimed the lives of 50 people. That is 50 too many, however the chance of a public mass shooting happening is very low and people should not be worried about one occurring around them; especially here at our school. 


I set out to interview teachers and students in the school to get their opinion on this issue. Some of the questions I asked are :

Do you own a gun? 

If not, do you plan on ever obtaining one?

Do you support changing the 2nd amendment? 

Should certain guns be restricted? 

How do you think gun violence in America can be solved? 


Here’s what Mr. Parsons had to say: 

Mr. Parsons does not support changing the second amendment. He believes that it is a part of a sacred constitution that guarantees the government gives people their given rights. He also believes that the second amendment is similar to the first amendment in which people’s freedoms should not be infringed. Furthermore he believes that the main issue is that firearms are used in offensive capabilities rather than defensive ones which he believes their intent are. Mr. Parsons acknowledges that gun violence is a problem, but it is a symptom of a much larger cultural problem.


Another teacher I interviewed was Ms. Irvine:

Ms. Irvine does not currently own a gun and does not see a future in which she owns one. She also would not object to someone in her household so long as it was obtained and stored properly and it was not an assault rifle. She believes there are flaws in the current second amendment and it should be updated to keep up with our modern times. She supports a ban on assault rifles because of their overwhelming use in mass shootings, but believes that other firearms can provide adequate home defense. Ms. Irvine also believes that the minimum age to own a gun should be raised to around 25 years of age, and makes the argument that people cannot drink alcohol until they are 21 or even rent a car until they are 25. She hesitates to say that people with a history of mental health disorders should be prohibited from owning firearms, because she believes it leads to generalizations and stereotypes. 


Another supporter of the 2nd amendment is Mr. Cappucci, who served in the army (1968-1970) and the merchant marines: 

Mr. Cappucci has his license to carry and believes the 2nd amendment is an important right of the people. He believes that restrictions should be imposed on people who can be deemed mentally unstable or who have committed violent crimes. In his mind, the 2nd amendment is a large deterrent against tyrannical governments and wrong doers. 


Mr. Nickerson approaches the 2nd amendment in this sense: 

Mr. Nickerson does not plan on ever owning a gun and would object to people in his household owning one. He believes the 2nd should be altered and that the age required to own a gun should be raised to 25. He compares the situation to owning a car, in order to obtain your license; many things are required because vehicles are considered deadly weapons. And so he sees the path to getting a gun which is also a deadly weapon is far too easy. He has no issue with lawfully obtained pistols and shotguns, but says AR15 style weapons should be banned. 


From a student perspective, I interviewed Zoe Long:

Zoe doesn’t own guns and at the moment does not plan on owning one later in life. She supports the right to bear arms but believes that the 2nd amendment should be amended in a way to make it harder to obtain firearms. She believes that AR-15 style weapons should be banned and that people with a history of being an abuser or a history of certain mental health issues should not be able to own one. She extends that belief to all people in a household, so if one person does not qualify, nobody in the house should be able to own one, because that person could acquire it. Zoe believes that more extensive background checks and more regulations can help solve gun violence in America. She also makes mental health a focal point and believes we should be investing in our youth. 


A history teacher here at WHS, Mr. Leonardo, said as such: 

Mr. Leonardo does in fact have a license to carry and is one of the few teachers who have such a license. He also would support changing the 2nd amendment if that needed to happen in order to pass gun control laws, although he made clear that passing legislation, although quite difficult, is much easier than passing an amendment. He also believes that AR-15 style assault rifles should be prohibited from public use. He is in favor of background checks and believes that people who do not pass them, should not be allowed to own a gun. Mr Leonardo believes that the key to solving gun violence is limiting the amount of circulation. 


As you can see there are many different views and attitudes towards the 2nd amendment and gun control among the staff and students in Winthrop High School.

I personally believe that there should not be extensive requirements in order to acquire a firearm. According to a Special Report by the DOJ, in which federal prisoners were surveyed about their gun use, around 2% of guns obtained through a retail source were used to commit a crime. I am of the belief that guns are tools and should be seen as such. For starters, I do not believe that a total ban would be possible. There are hundreds of millions of guns in circulation and I believe that taking them away is not feasible, for numerous reasons. Furthermore, I believe that guns should be used in defensive situations, and there are numerous legitimate reasons to own a gun. I believe the only restriction placed on guns should be that they are registered and not sold to people who have been convicted of a felony. I do not believe the age restriction should not be increased and that all firearms are kept attainable to the public. To me, America does not have a gun issue; it has mental health issues. Particularly in the niche group of white men between ages 18-25. Research has to be done as to why this group is more likely to commit these crimes, and if they have been radicalized. Domestic terrorism is one of the most worrisome issues this country currently has and guns are taking the fall. If somebody is fixated on hurting people, they will do so by any means necessary, gun or not. 


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