The Second Amendment or something more?

It never fails. What better event than a massacre to bring on debate over the Second Amendment?

It never fails. What better event than a massacre to bring on debate over the Second Amendment? The gun hasn’t even cooled from being fired and people from both sides of the ring have put on their boxing gloves and began to duke it out. Never mind that 32 people at Virginia Tech were killed just for going to class. Never mind that the person who did it had a history of being mentally unstable. Unfortunately, incidents like these make people question the wrong things.

Within a day of the Virginia Tech shootings, the media began asking the types of questions it always asks when someone is killed by a firearm: How did Seung-Hui Cho, a 23-year-old English major at Virginia Tech, get a gun? How is it possible that a gun was brought onto campus? What about background checks and waiting periods? And then the outcry that always occurs: Ban guns! Guns are evil! Only crazy people own them and use them!

And what it all boils down to is that while the questions are justified, the outcry isn’t.

There are typically three kinds of people when it comes to the infamous gun debate: those who want all guns confiscated, melted down and banned; those who want so much control that the law-abiding have no chance of getting them; and those who are happy with the status quo, but wouldn’t mind a few tweaks here and there. These three types of people need to base their reasons on reality and logic, not on the way things should be or the way they want them to be. That won’t get us anywhere.

Many Americans want to look to the British as their guide. In 1776, we signed the Declaration of Independence, basically thumbing our noses at the Brits and telling them to take a hike. Instead of looking to the British-our forefathers must have had a reason why they wanted the Atlantic between us and them-we should look to those who have remained neutral throughout history, retained their independence and, as pointed out by Mark Twain, gave us the cuckoo clock: Switzerland, a country that actually allows guns in the hands of its citizens.

Switzerland has the second highest gun ownership in the world, right after the United States. What is different about Switzerland? In Switzerland, if you are male, you are expected to serve your country. BBC News reported that, “between the ages of 21 and 32 men serve as frontline troops. They are given an M-57 assault rifle and 24 rounds of ammunition which they are required to keep at home.” After their service, they are discharged but serve in what is akin to our National Guard. In a country that has about 600,000 people, there is an estimated two million firearms that are owned. Two million. The only people who aren’t allowed to own a gun are children, the mentally unstable and ex-criminals.

In one Swiss publication it’s said that, “the Swiss don’t have an army, they are the army.” Looking at it that way, Switzerland is 76 times denser with soldiers than any other country. Their gun culture is completely different than ours. Instead of guns being something that are supposed to be feared and untouched, shooting in Switzerland is a popular pastime and is actually encouraged by the government. In annual marksmen competitions, over 200,000 Swiss citizens compete.

This shows that banning guns is like duct-taping a leaky pipe–it will only last for so long and it’s only a feel-good measure. It takes the focus off of the real problems: the people who commit crimes.

The kinds of people who commit mass murders aren’t sane. Like Seung-Hui Cho, they lose touch with reality and think that all of their problems are the fault of everyone around them. They take no responsibility for themselves and their actions. In the video that Cho sent to NBC he said, “You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off.” Contrary to what he said and what he may have believed, no one forced his hand in this. The choice to do what he did was his own.

Should it be harder to obtain handguns? To an extent. Background checks, waiting periods, mental evaluations should be a given. But as the saying goes, where there’s a will, there’s a way. That’s why we have criminals. Put all of the laws on the books that you want, but they won’t do any good if the people they’re supposed to manage won’t follow them. That’s why they’re criminals. That’s how Seung-Hui Cho brought a gun to a campus that prohibited firearms on their property.

We need to do what the Swiss culture does. Take the firearm and discard the cultural stigma attached to it. Make it an acceptable pastime, and promote it as such. And perhaps, like the Swiss, the U.S. should make military service a requirement. As soon as you hit 18, you can vote, and you can serve. The Swiss are doing something right and that is the major difference between us. Instead of getting rid of the means, find the source. We are a culture that hurts others and ourselves through binge drinking, suicides, drunk driving and more. Guns aren’t the cause of that. No, the problem goes much deeper than some metal object that packs a punch.

Get to the root of the problem. Growing up, we are expected to succeed, and in turn, we expect to succeed. No one loses; no one fails. Everyone is a winner. It isn’t until we fall flat on our faces that we realize that we aren’t infallible… and some people can’t handle that reality. Teach your children the good, the bad and the ugly. Teach them responsibility. Teach them that they will succeed, but they will also fail. Don’t give everything to them on a silver platter. Teach them to respect others, as well as themselves. Teach them that they aren’t the center of the universe, that their actions affect others, and sometimes with deadly results. In doing these things, by being aware and being held accountable for your own actions, maybe another Columbine or Virginia Tech will be prevented.