Students debate proposed gun control

President Barack Obama’s proposed legislation to ban assault rifles and limit clip sizes has some people on the Castleton State College angry.

This issue has rustled up avid supporters on both sides, but most say they understand the stance of the other side. Advocates for the ownership of automatic weapons argue the ban would be an infringement on the rights of the American citizen under the Second Amendment.

“Yeah, weapons that are classified as assault weapons are not totally necessary for civilians to own, but the Second Amendment in the Constitution protects the citizens’ rights to own them,” said Castleton junior Brian Powell.

The president said the reasoning behind his proposal is because “reducing violent crime and gun-related crime in particular, is a top priority of my administration. A key component of this effort is ensuring that law enforcement agencies at all levels — Federal, State, and local — utilize those tools that have proven most effective.” 

The proposal includes over 23 executive and legislative actions. They aim to reduce gun violence by putting a ban on military style weapons and ammunition clips with a capacity of more than 10 rounds.

A popular argument for advocates of automatic weapons is that the focus should not be gun control itself, but on mental health and the prevention of mentally unstable people acquiring firearms. Keeping guns out of the hands of people who are a possible danger to themselves or others, they say, is a better way to greatly reduce gun violence.

According to a poll conducted at Castleton, 84 percent favor requiring strict reporting from mental health professionals to the National Instant Background Check System and 66 percent are for banning the sale of high capacity magazines. 

“I agree with the need for more grueling background checks to prevent people with mental issues from getting any firearms,” said Junior Benjamin Cram. “Americans have had the right to bear arms since we’ve been an established as a country and banning assault weapons will only promote black market trading of these weapons. Instead of being owned by everyday citizens, only criminals will have access to them.”

Recent and past tragedies involving firearms have only added to the number of supporters behind the gun control ban. The aftermath of the Sandy Hook elementary shootings left many Americans in shock. The fact that a person could walk into an elementary school and open fire on children confused and angered many. Tragedies like this drove people to want an outright ban on assault weapons and some even wish to ban side arms as well.

Supporters of the ban argue that weapons like these are not needed for home defense or hunting and should be illegal for nonmilitary or police personnel to own them.

  “Why does someone even need an assault rifle? It’s unnecessary and it’s not like you are not allowed to protect yourself. The right of self-defense isn’t lost,” said junior Julia King.

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