Bearing arms

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Over the past year, we have seen a sickening number of mass shootings that have resulted in the countless deaths of innocent people, totaling 16 lethal mass shootings and 88 deaths. The amount of attention these mass shootings have received is sparking controversy within the federal government, calling for much more strict gun laws across the country.

Currently, there is no federal law prohibiting the carry of firearms by citizens for protection or other lawful purposes. By tradition and as defined in the U.S. Constitution, laws describing the bearing of arms are exclusively the business of state legislatures.

In the state of Missouri, the gun laws are very limited. Open carry for those age 18 and older is allowed, but a permit is required. Under Missouri Statute 571.070, the only people restricted from having an approved permit are adjudged incompetent persons or felons. So, it could be said that getting a gun legally in Missouri is not a difficult task for most people.

According to Forbes.com, St. Louis is the second most dangerous city in America, trailing Detroit with a violent crime rate of 1,857 per 10,000 people. Any person could say that this is at fault of the states sub-par gun laws, and if those gun laws were tightened, the crime rate would go down. But a hefty portion of those crimes happen on the east side of St. Louis, which is under the Illinois state laws.

The gun laws in Illinois are about as strict as they come, as it is the only state in the country that does not issue concealed carry licenses, nor does it accept concealed carry licenses issued by other states. It is the only state that has no provision for the concealed carry of firearms by citizens, yet one of the most dangerous areas in the country. East St. Louis isn’t the only city in Illinois with a high violent crime rate, either. Chicago alone saw 513 homicides in 2012, which is a 13% increase from 2011. To put this into perspective, the total amount of coalition troops (Not just U.S. soldiers) who were killed in Afghanistan in 2012 is 405.

So, where does this leave us? The nation has been screaming at the federal government since the Sandy Hook massacre to tighten these gun laws, but making something unlawful wont change the mind of someone who is intending to break the law. We are at a point where if something about the way we treat guns is not changed soon, we will see more of these pointless massacres, but we cant take away the peoples constitutional right to bear arms. We should instead become more comfortable with the presence of guns, and make sure more good people are armed than bad people. It does not make sense to un-arm law-abiding citizens, while some dangerous criminals are going to carry a gun regardless of the law. Crime rates would go down because nobody in their right mind would attempt a crime knowing that people could and would use lethal force on them at any given time.

As the cliché goes, a person with a gun has great power and responsibility. Obviously, criminals should not have either of those things, but having a gun gives them the opportunity to. In a city like Chicago, where only police officers and criminals have concealed weapons, the innocent citizens are the ones who are at a disadvantage. This only prompts more people to break the law and carry a gun, which is counter-productive. Giving more people the right to carry a concealed weapon would offer more protection to the general public, and people who abide by the laws set in place for guns now will most likely abide to new gun laws that give them the responsibility of carrying a gun. This is a situation that could very well determine the lives of many people if it is not taken care of soon. As a country, we need to make the right decision. If we outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Parkway School District.

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