Connecticut school shooting

US must tighten gun control laws

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 December, 2012, 1:52am

I write regarding the mass shooting on Friday morning in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School before taking his own life.

America is familiar with gun-related mass shootings, including a recent mall shooting in Oregon and The Dark Knight Rises theatre shooting in Aurora, Colorado, in July.

This most recent incident, however, including 20 children, causes a particular hurt in the collective conscience of our nation, but it remains to be seen what could help.

One possible solution to the continual threat of mass shootings - taking guns out of the American picture altogether - is a political and logistical impossibility.

Since its founding, America has committed itself to protecting the right of citizens to own personal firearms.

The second amendment to our constitution - adopted as part of the Bill of Rights in 1791 - enshrines this right within our nation's paramount law, "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

As an American, I was raised in an environment in which "the right of the people to keep and bear arms" was often touted as a victory for individual freedom and liberty, a guarantee that the people can protect themselves from personal danger and government tyranny, should either of the two arise.

However, although many Americans side with the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun lobbying groups as resolute advocates of second amendment rights, they by and large overlook one of the amendment's restrictions: a "well regulated militia".

Well regulated means restricted, controlled, monitored. This is the solution to the dangers of private gun ownership that America's founders placed explicitly in the amendment itself.

The government has the right and responsibility to regulate firearms, what can and cannot be sold, under what circumstances, and to whom.

The federal government and states should re-evaluate their practices and policies, and do what is best for the security of their people, even if it goes against the wishes of a powerful industry.

It is a "well regulated militia" that is "necessary to the security of a free state". Currently, America does not have that.

Christopher Young, Sha Tin