By Savannah Levins
Over a year passed without legislative response to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School–until now. Earlier this month, President Obama announced two new executive actions for gun background checks. The actions are relatively minor; They are designed to place more stringent background checks on people attempting to purchase firearms, especially in cases of mental health discrepancy.
Since the infamous shooting at Sandy Hook, Obama has been consistently pushing congress for more restrictions on gun purchases. These efforts have been largely unsuccessful and were repeatedly met with significant congressional resistance. But despite the new legislative measures, people are still lining up to buy guns. In fact, FBI reports show that the past two years have brought a record number of background checks and firearm purchases. I went out on campus to see how University of Georgia students feel about the new executive actions.
Raphael Eissa, a freshman Biology major, said he thinks the Obama administration is taking a step in the right direction with the new legislation.
“Rates of firearm violence in the USA exceed those of the vast majority of nations worldwide,” Eissa said. “I think the least we can do are physiological evaluations of those applying for licenses.”
However, other students say tightening gun sale restrictions are a blatant infringement upon our constitutional rights.
“It’s better to have a gun and not need it than to not have a gun and need it,” said Robert Noens, a senior International affairs major. “It’s the second amendment, so really anything short of automatic weapons shouldn’t be touched. However, unconstitutionality hasn’t really stopped our government from much lately.”
Eissa disagrees. “We need to stop justifying our dependence on firearms by citing an amendment that was penned with the Civil War in mind,” he said. “This is a different era and different measures need to be taken.”
The second amendment, which protects the rights of individual Americans to keep and bear arms, was adopted on December 15, 1791. The Sandy Hook shooting, which left 27 people dead, occurred on December 14, 2012, almost exactly 221 years later. As mass shootings become more common and questions of mental health pervade society more than ever, there is no shortage of people who are advocating for stricter gun control.
Still, many students believe that the 221 year-old amendment was put in place for a reason.
“I fully believe in a right to bear arms,” said Carly Zabkar, a senior fashion and merchandising major from Roswell. “I don’t believe that guns kill people. People kill people. Saying that a gun kills a person is like saying a fork makes a person fat. We need to protect ourselves from bad people with our second amendment.”
So is the second amendment outdated, or overlooked? As of now, we can only wait and see how congress and the Obama administration choose to proceed.