Beginning in February, the Obama administration once again began to traverse the seemingly endless Second Amendment debate with new regulations for a specific kind of bullet. Proponents of this bullet argue it will enhance public safety, but the discussion has sparked irate responses from members of the National Rifle Association NRA.
Recently, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ATF proposed new legislation to place a ban on the armor-piercing 5.56-millimeter “M855 green tip” rifle bullet, a bullet commonly used by hunters and target shooters. The ban was proposed in response to the proliferation of a new handgun that uses the bullets and would therefore pose a threat to the police, as it would be portable and easy to conceal. According to the ATF, the “manufacturers will be unable to produce such armor-piercing ammunition, importers will be unable to import such ammunition, and manufacturers and importers will be prohibited from selling or distributing the ammunition.”
Reactions from gun activists have been immense, including tens of thousands of letters being sent to Congress. Following the proposal, gun shops experienced a sharp increase in sales of the bullet, as gun rights organizations urgently warned their members of the possible ban. Chris W. Cox, the executive director at the NRA, even stated that the proposal “is Obama’s latest action in a lifetime devoted to the dismantling of the Second Amendment.”
Regardless of the overt obtuseness of Cox’s statement, there is no question that gun rights and bans on certain guns or ammunition have been a persistently and hotly contested policy debate, pitting those on opposite ends of the political spectrum against each other for decades. Such vehement arguments can be traced to varied and misguided understandings of the Second Amendment, which guarantees the right of the people to bear arms. However, the ATF’s proposal is no new idea in this realm, with many attempts in the last few years to change public policy at both the federal and state levels to prevent gun crime in the United States. Gun activists fight a losing battle in a world where gun control and harsher restrictions on the sale and purchase of firearms and bullets are becoming more regulated, and the regulation in question is certainly out of necessity.
The results of stricter gun laws in other countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom and Japan serve as evidence for the overwhelmingly positive impact of more prominent regulation such as the new proposal suggested by the Obama administration. For example, the Japanese have placed thorough restrictions on firearms to the point where almost no one in the country owns a gun. Given these rules, according to GunPolicy.org, there were only 11 Japanese firearm homicides in 2008, compared with the over 12,000 that occurred in the United States that year.
Such statistics cannot be refuted. Although Cox makes a purposefully inflammatory statement about President Obama’s entire life being dedicated to the “dismantling of the Second Amendment,” perhaps we must consider and integrate this very idea. Why should we continue the attempt to make relevant legislation written over two centuries ago? The gun technology of today such as the M855 green tip rifle bullet could not possibly have been foreseen by the writers of the outdated Constitution – can the intentionally unclear wording of the Second Amendment defend such a device?
In favor of human rights over gun rights, the proposal made by the ATF could be the beginning of a gateway to a safer United States in which gun violence is merely history.
Katie Jeddeloh ’18 firstname.lastname@example.org is from Denver, Colo. She majors in English and political science.
Graphic Credit: ERIN KNADLER/MANITOU MESSENGER