Restrict Civilian Access to Military Weapons

I understand the thrill of shooting a gun. For one blissful moment, everything melts away, and all that your brain focuses on is that satisfyingly heavy piece of metal molding perfectly into your hands. It gives you a power you never thought possible. Shooting a gun gives you a tangible sense of control, fills you with adrenaline and makes you feel alive.

That feeling is exactly why we need to reform gun laws and create legislation that will enact stricter civilian ownership of military-grade weapons. Nobody should be allowed this type of power.

I have never been more afraid of guns than when I was shooting one in a gun range where everybody was armed. To know that I was holding something that gave me the ability to end human life with the flick of a finger gave me inexplicable power. I felt like a god, and I was afraid.

Humans are not meant to feel this way. We are not designed with razor sharp teeth or claws to kill. The ability to kill does not come naturally. It is learned and developed with tools — guns give too much power to those who, frankly, do not need it.

The Second Amendment was written in a different age, an age of militias and British invasion. Guns, back then, were also fairly inaccurate and unreliable unless you were within four feet of your target.

Why, then, are we allowing 18-year-olds to purchase assault rifles? There are no redcoats at our doors, and these guns are more deadly than any founding father could have imagined. The U.S. Constitution is a living document for a reason. The times — and guns — have changed, and our constitution must follow suit.

It is simply too easy for anybody to find a gun and do with it as they please. In the United States, an individual can purchase a rifle at age 18, a handgun at 21 and can inherit a gun at any age. No restrictions exist on guns changing hands once they are purchased, and most states only require background checks from licensed dealers, resulting in what is known as the gun show loophole: Only 12 states require background checks for any gun purchase made in gun shows. That is unacceptable.   

Picture someone who feels like they have no control over their life or their emotional state. They feel powerless. They go to a gun range for the first time and feel the tension in the air as they look at case after case of shiny semiautomatic firearms. They go back and set up their target, an ambiguously human shape, and heft the cold gun into their hands.

I know the power that could surge through one’s muscles. I know how the mind can marvel at the destruction that happens 20 yards away. I know how nerves might react to the recoil, a feeling etched in muscle memory for hours after the adrenaline leaves their bloodstream — the result of putting holes in the frame of a person.

It scared me to know that by holding a gun I held death in my hands and that anyone could be at my mercy. Just because guns can be fun, and even though they can be handled safely with proper instruction, civilian ownership of military-grade weapons is just not safe. We cannot allow gun enthusiasts and Second Amendment die-hards to endanger the lives of innocent Americans. It’s simply not worth it.

Annie Cohen (20C) is an English and creative writing major from New Orleans.

0 comments