Federal laws across states should govern guns

By Josh Haywood


Mainly due to the fact that our nation is a cult of violence, gun possession is seemingly the most universal political issue that has stood the test of time. Watch the nightly news for an hour and it is almost guaranteed that there will be news of a shooting or murder somewhere in your area. From the shooting of Representative Giffords (D- Ariz.) to just the other week in Bremerton, Wash. where a third-grader was shot after a gun accidentally discharged while in a student’s backpack. Guns are everywhere and often fall into the hands of youth who are more than willing to pull the trigger.

I have seen how easy it is for someone to get a gun when over winter break, a friend of my younger brother showed me a nine-millimeter semi-automatic pistol and .32 revolver he bought in a street transaction. He showed me how the seller had scratched out the serial numbers and drilled a screw down the barrel to eliminate the distinguishing bullet groves of the barrel. The weapons were very easy to obtain and, better yet, there was no background check required. There is no reason for someone under the age 21 to own a handgun and thus gun laws need federal uniformity.

My stance on the second amendment is a modified version of Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty, which states other persons should leave a person to do what they please without interference. The only modification I accept is the Gun Control Act of 1968 that requires serial numbers on weapons and bans convicted felons from purchasing or possessing weapons. State gun laws are not productive in this country because they vary too much from state to state. Take for instance Pennsylvania and its neighboring states New Jersey and New York; in Pennsylvania there is no permit required to purchase a handgun while in both New Jersey and New York there is. According to www.tracetheguns.org, a website that catalogs illegal gun imports and exports based on arrests, in 2009 364 guns purchased in Pennsylvania were found to have been exported to New York and 397 to New Jersey, each through straw-purchasers: people with clean records who legally buy weapons and hand them off to criminals across the state line. Think about it. That is 761 guns falling into the hands of criminals. Legal discrepancies like this are responsible for numerous deaths every year and are a major reason to implement a universal set of federal laws. The federal government should establish a set of universal rules in which states are forced to follow what is stated in Article VI of the Constitution: federal law supersedes state law. This would level the playing field, making it even harder for criminals to purchase weapons no matter the state they live in.

Opposition groups believe federalism takes away state sovereignty and the individual demographic of a state calls for individual laws in return. It is true that a universal set of laws would make it more tedious to get a gun, but to that I have a separate question: is time equivalent to life? The loss of a human life is never worth the convenience of being able to purchase a gun easily. State sovereignty is still maintained because the state government could customize the parameters of each universal law that is set forth. States could set the prices for permits and define waiting periods as they see necessary, which would allow states with relatively low crime rates to be more loose and those with higher rates more stringent. I normally am not a big fan of government bureaucracy bullshit, but in this case, I extend an exception. It is completely unjustifiable to sacrifice life for convenience.

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