By Alexandra Howard
Every presidential election typically lends itself to a time of great discussion, and it seems that several topics which have previously been eclipsed are surfacing in the dialogue of this election cycle. One of these topics, which has been gaining more and more attention in light of recent events, is gun control. The concept has been debated over and over again by both Republicans and Democrats, each time resulting in little or no change. But with the increasing number of mass shootings in the US, including that in Oregon at the beginning of this month, candidates are taking the opportunity to take a firm stance on gun laws.
Many Republican candidates have approached the subject with a focus on mental health. They claim that the mass shootings are not rooted in the possession of guns, but rather in the personal issues of the people who purchase them. This approach is not only incredibly controversial, but also leads to an even more poignant discussion of health care and the process of diagnosing the mentally ill. In the US. The Republican party is largely in favor of defending the Second Amendment and allowing Americans to carry guns if they so choose, which appeals to many people living in rural parts of the country. Rural communities tend to be more supportive of gun ownership and its practicality. In extremely rural states such as Wyoming or Montana, guns are considered essential in protecting families and livestock from wild animals.
Democrats, on the other hand, tend to suggest strengthening gun laws and holding gun manufacturers accountable for the actions of their customers. The issue of mental health is often employed as an argument for why a number of Americans cannot handle firearms, but is not labeled as the root of the gun problem. Many Democrats would rather develop a program in which gun buyers partake in comprehensive screenings and limitations are placed on the types of firearms pedestrian Americans can purchase. These plans are predictably controversial, as some people believe they are an attempt to limit Second Amendment rights. This has prompted a broader discussion about the relevance of the Second Amendment, and the potential for an alteration in the wording or meaning of this part of our Constitution.
The US Constitution has been in place for several hundred years. It seems logical that as time moves forward, some parts of the document may become outdated. For many modern issues, Congress is able to add an amendment to the Constitution to keep it as up to date as possible. However, when one of our most basic rights becomes a point in question, the process suddenly becomes much more complex. The Second Amendment is one of the principles on which America was built, but was drafted to furnish militias and the protection of American homes against British soldiers. Is it necessary, therefore, to rework one of the most basic American beliefs? Is this even possible? With the ever growing number of shootings across America, and the noticeable lack thereof in other countries, the very ideas that shaped America may be called into question.