American Studies Blog Week 9
Compare any TWO websites, one pro-gun control and one anti-gun control. If your views are pro-gun control, analyse the video in favour of guns and explain its point of view - and vice versa if your views are anti-gun control.
Being in favour of gun control myself, I selected a source that is against the idea of restricting the ownership of guns in the U.S. The video I chose is from a public hearing concerned with the prevention of gun violence. The speaker is Henson Ong, an American citizen, presumably of Korean or Chinese ancestry. He argues that the proposed gun-control measures would “do nothing to deter future crimes” and that real problem that lies behind gun violence today is “societal decay”. It seems that here he is expressing his belief that crimes would persist regardless of whether firearms are banned as the problem with violence lies with people. He reinforces this point by claiming that firearms have existed for years, whilst it is only recently that we have seen them used in tragic circumstances, like the massacre at Columbine High School.
Other points he makes include a reference to the high crime rates of cities such as Washington D.C and Chicago, which persist despite their strict gun control policies, and an argument against the notion that “assault rifles” or AR-15’s are “weapons of mass destruction.” Here he claims that the Department of Homeland Security described such firearms as “suitable for personal defence of use”. Another reason he gives for being allowed to own firearms is the claim that “assault rifles” saved Koreans during the LA riots, as they allowed them to defend their lives and protect their businesses from being burnt down, unlike other people who did not possess such weapons. He also refers to the Tiananmen Square protests in China in 1989, noting that the number of students that were killed would not have been so high had they not been unarmed.
As is the case with many anti-gun control activists he also refers to the Second Amendment. He categorically states the “state” to which the Second Amendment refers to is not the “government” but the “people” and as such it is their right to bear firearms. He also makes it clear that he believes there is no relation between the Amendment and hunting, stating that the right to own firearms is specific to the “preservation and efficiency of a well-regulated militia”. The “militia” in this context means, in his understanding, any male capable of “acting in common defence” and he states that the Amendment requires all men to appear “bearing arms supplied by themselves” if called to serve their country. He concludes by quoting a statement from a court case in 2003 by Judge Alex Kozinski who said that the “Second Amendment is a doomsday provision” that is designed for “those exceptionally rare circumstances when all other rights have failed”.
As we can see, there are two main points on which his argument rests: 1) Society is to blame for gun violence; 2) It is the constitutional right of Americans to bear firearms. Yet the first point can easily be refuted as the “societal decay” to which he refers to is far too vague and difficult to prove. Also if the “decay” is meant to refer to mentally ill people, for example, it would seem to be in the general population’s interests to ban firearms to prevent such people from having the means of causing the tragedies to which Americans have become accustomed to today. The examples that he uses to highlight the positive uses of firearms are valid, but it seems that more often than not there are more negative aspects and problems associated with firearms. His second point is also weak in places, as the language of the Second Amendment itself is vague and is open to interpretation. In addition, his point about the “militia” is contradictory, as it seems as though it suggests that it is only in the context of protecting the country that one has the right to own and use firearms.
In conclusion, although his arguments appear initially to be well constructed and valid, they have had little effect in changing my opinion in favour of gun control. However, it is interesting to note that his point on crime rates being high in Washington DC and Chicago despite gun control, correlates with the similar crime rates of UK and Australia which have not been reduced despite the banning of firearms. This suggests that gun control is not quite as effective as I thought it was.
Anti-Gun Control Sources
Pro-Gun Control Video - http://vimeo.com/67635001