The topic of gun control has been one of the most pressing matters in politics during the last decade and is once again at the top of many democratic candidates’ priorities. The issue centers itself, in most cases, not around whether there should be any control of guns in the United States but how much control.
Several democratic candidates offer different solutions and proposals to this question. Senator Cory Booker has proposed that all gun owners must obtain federal licenses to own and use their weapons, which has prompted several other major candidates to file on in support.
Senator Elizabeth Warren has stated that as president she would go after the NRA and dedicate $100 million towards gun safety research. In her time in the Senate, Warren worked in support of gun control, calling on major companies that worked with gun manufacturers to pressure them for change. Both Warren and Senator Kamala Harris have promised to tackle gun control within the first 100 days in office, the latter also calling for universal background checks and a renewal of the 1994 ban on assault weapons that expired in 2004.
Coming from states whose constituents view guns more favorably in general, Senators Amy Klobuchar and Bernie Sanders have taken different routes regarding gun control in the past. Klobuchar’s approach comes from the idea of what would “hurt [her] Uncle Dick in the deer stand.”
If gun control infringes upon a person’s ability to hunt, fish or participate in other outdoor activities that involve guns, then she has a problem with it. However, Klobuchar still supports ideas such as universal background checks and assault weapons bans because, according to her, these laws would not hurt her Uncle Dick.
Similarly, Senator Sanders has taken a softer approach to gun control in the past than some of his political democratic rivals, and was criticized for this during the 2016 election. In 1993, Sanders voted against a bill that would require federal background checks. However, since the start of his 2020 campaign, Sanders has been much harder on gun control, promising to “take on the NRA, expand background checks, end the gun show loophole and ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons.”
The debate around gun control is an issue that hits close to home for me. I am originally from Connecticut and live around 45 minutes away from Newtown, the town where the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting took place. I still remember the day the shooting took place. I remember the moment I first heard about it from my geometry teacher, but not knowing if anyone had been hurt. When we slowly got word that children had been shot, I felt my heart shatter.
I was only a freshman in high school, and I could hardly comprehend the situation. I remember walking, almost lifeless, through the hallways of my school, my classmates and friends in just as much disbelief as me. My friend’s mother drove me home that day, and I remember listening to the radio as the reports rolled in. We just sat in the car and cried. There was nothing else to do. In the aftermath, when no immediate action was taken, I was infuriated. How could the deaths of 20 beautiful children and six brave school staff members not immediately prompt some form of change? I still am furious.
I believe the best course of action would be to establish universal background checks, mandatory training for proper and safe gun usage longer than just a few hours and federal licenses for gun owners. Those licenses should also be renewed every few years, just as drivers’ licenses must be renewed. Along with this, I believe a new ban on assault weapons should be enacted.
There is nothing wrong with weapons used for hunting or other similar sport, and guns such as AR-15s are not required for such sport. I also do not think there is anything wrong with owning a gun as a means of self-defense and I actually plan on purchasing some sort of weapon for my future household. However, a military-grade weapon originally designed and used to kill as many enemies as possible in warfare is not necessary to defend a civilian household.
Patrick Holden can be contacted at Patrick.Holden@ksc.keene.edu