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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Freedom from fear

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I can’t help but think that we are all waiting for the next disaster to hit. San Bernardino is behind us. The Boston Marathon bombing is behind us. Newtown is behind us. Yet the thought left unsaid (a particularly disturbing one, I admit), and I feel I am not alone in thinking it, is the question of when another disaster will hit.

This summer, I scrolled through my Twitter timeline only to be floored at the New York Times’ tweet on August 25, 2016: “Walmart to End Sales of Assault-Style Rifles in U.S. Stores.”

Really? Walmart, a mega-corporation, had been selling assault-style rifles. Data from Statistica says that in 2015, there were 11,453 Walmart stores in the U.S. That means, on average, there were 229 stores in every state that were selling assault-style rifles to the public.

This piece of news was just one example in a string of many disturbing views and facts about gun violence, and is a good illustration of why I can’t help but feel like we are just waiting around for another gun-related act of violence to grab the media’s attention. I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that everyday gun violence is (for the most part) brushed under the rug of media attention, or that we only pay attention when we feel that an event happened in an ‘unexpected’ place: a school, a movie theater, a church.

Why is it to be expected that cities will have higher rates of gun violence? Why is it that my friends who grew up in or near cities can compare stories of shootings that happened just a few hundred feet away from their homes? Do we really care so much about a ‘right to bear arms’ that we continue to let people kill each other in senseless acts of violence?

I don’t believe that we have a right to bear arms. Call me a radical pacifist if you please, but I abhor all forms of war or conflict, wherever they occur, and that view has been with me since childhood. I distinctly remember at a religious camp in elementary school, my classmates and I were asked: “If your country is attacked, do you think that it is right to retaliate with force in defense of your country?” I was the only one who stayed on the wall and said “No, I don’t think it’s ever right to attack anyone, regardless of if my country has been attacked.” (Wasn’t this a religious group of kids? Was I the only one who believed in peace and the power of words? Isn’t it always better to receive the blows than to deal them?)

The right to bear arms was given in uncertain times. The Constitution was written with many flaws, as Supreme Court decisions throughout history have proven. I don’t think that the right to carry a rifle is still considered essential to being American. If we truly value our freedom, don’t we have to value the freedom to live without the fear of being attacked on any given day, the freedom of not just waiting around for another tragedy? Who doesn’t want to live in a world where we don’t have to be afraid to go to the movie theater and we have no stories about how people died outside our doorstep?

It’s unlikely, but I can only hope that there will come a time when we don’t have to live in fear of gun violence, even if that means giving up a freedom our forefathers saw as necessary. I believe times have changed, and we have to change with them, for the sake of true freedom, freedom from harm and fear.

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