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ISSUE 118 VOL 3 PUBLISHED 10/1/2004

Ban expires, but worries still persist

By Megan Sutherland
Contributing Writer

Friday, October 1, 2004

While St. Olaf still bans guns on these premises, students shouldnt shed too many tears over the schools supposed denial of our Second Amendment rights. Thats right; the assault weapon ban is over.

Minnesotans can now carry Uzis and other multi-round pumping guns whenever they venture to the Twin Cities or anywhere else without a sign demanding you to check your M-16 at the door. Well, thats not entirely accurate.

In truth, the expiration of the assault weapons ban changes very little in terms of the variety of guns being sold. The expired bill was full of loopholes, and placed too much emphasis on configurations, which made it illegal to own a gun.

For instance, if a bayonet or a ventilated hand guard were added to a rifle, the weapon would be illegal under the previous ban; it was not the actual gun that was banned, just the addition of a wimpy knife or sometimes a mere name change. The specificity of the bill let manufacturers make minor changes to their products that allowed essentially the same weapons sold after the bill was instated.

There are, however, some weapons, such as AK-47s and TEC-9s, which are now entirely legal to possess but were illegal before the ban expired. The original ban was imperfect, but it is still vital that Congress do something to stop assault weapons from being readily available.

Part of the problem in allowing the ban to expire lies in where the line is drawn. Why is it OK for citizens to have Uzis and not rocket launchers? The same ridiculous arguments could be made in favor of each, but I feel that most National Rifle Association (NRA) members who are excited about the availability of assault weapons would oppose rocket launchers being in the hands of citizens.

Im pretty sure the founding fathers, who are deservedly considered geniuses, could not foresee the violent innovations that would occur more than two hundred years after they penned the Second Amendment.

Furthermore, the Constitution and its amendments were written in times of turbulent revolution when the fate of democracy was uncertain.

The Constitution is sensitive to the issues that plagued the colonies, and it rightly sought to ensure the government did not exploit the citizens who lived under its rule.

U.S. citizens should be able to protect themselves, or hunt if they wish, but it really is not necessary to blow a hundred holes in the guy trying to break into your house, let alone a helpless deer. The United States has gotten past its years of teenage rebellion. Democracy is stable and thriving, and the checks and balances are in place. While there is still corruption within the government, it is neither safe nor necessary for each citizen to own a stockpile of weapons with no constructive or realistic purpose.

Each person has an inherent right to protect themselves from those who would seek to harm them (including the government), but there has to be some common sense used in determining necessity versus what would ultimately make people unsafe.

NRA supporters can argue all they want that any gun control is a violation of the Second Amendment, but the model of other countries with gun control (and subsequently reduced violent crime) serves only to reinforce the fact that more dangerous guns do not protect anyone.

It is childish to put selfish desires ahead of what is best for the whole. There will always be crime, but it does not need to propelled by government sanctioned ownership of deadly assault weapons.

Staff writer Megan Sutherland is a junior from The Woodlands, Texas. She majors in English and history.

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