By Jake Mulick
As of Wednesday, Feb. 24, lawmakers in the Iowa House of Representatives have passed a law to be sent to the Senate that allows children ages 14 or younger to be allowed to possess and operate a pistol or revolver, according to the Huffington Post. The law allows young children to operate and fire a weapon as long as they are under the supervision of a parent. Supervision, under this law’s terms, entails “another person who maintains visual and verbal contact at all times with the supervised person.”
Proponents of this law claim that the younger individual learns how to use a gun, the safer they are because they will have more experience with a firearm. Those lobbying the bill claim that a plethora of Iowans already practice shooting with their children, unbeknownst of the existing law prohibiting it. The idea that it also is in their constitutional rights to educate and prepare their children for gun ownership and operation is the central proponent of this bill. Sources at the National Rifle Association reiterate these sentiments time and time again whilst defending the legislature on their website.
Critics, such as Iowa state Rep. Kirsten Running-Marquardt (D) have come out against the bill in multiple interviews including those appearing in CNN and the Huffington Post, claiming it is nonsensical to have “militias of toddlers.” Last August, a nine year old was taken out to a gun range with her family to practice firing high-powered machine guns and rifles. During her practice, she was overwhelmed by the recoil of the machine gun and accidentally shot her instructor in the head, killing him instantaneously. This instance has been referenced myriad times in order to emphasize the negative ramifications of what happens when a child is overpowered by a fire arm. With the overwhelming increase of gun violence, specifically in schools across the United States, this law has sparked an incredible amount of controversy.
This law is a perfect example of why guns are such a controversial issue in the United States. It is pretty universally accepted that bad people use guns to kill innocent people. People have used guns to plan and execute mass murders in multiple public places in the U.S., from movie theatres in Colorado to elementary schools in Connecticut, causing uproar from both Democrats and Republicans. Democrats are attempting to pass legislation this legislative session that will make it more difficult for people to obtain guns, following the logic that if fewer people have guns, there will be fewer guns available to shoot people with. Republicans disagree, claiming that when more people that have guns, they will be able to use those guns in order to protect themselves against gun violence.
The difficulty is what rights concerning guns are guaranteed to Americans by the constitution. The Second Amendment promises that “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.” The restrictions that Democrats are attempting to place on obtaining guns is argued to be unconstitutional by the opposite side of the aisle because it makes it more difficult for Americans to practice their constitutional right. The question then centers around whether or not the current climate of school shootings and various crises surrounding guns is worth the restrictions placed on the constitutional right of owning guns.
According to a Washington Times article from Oct. 1, 2015, there have been 142 school mass shootings since the Columbine shooting on April 20, 1999. Already in 2016, according to Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, an independent organization dedicated to reducing gun violence in America, there have been eight school shootings only a month and a half into the new year. The frequency with which multiple students are murdered while attempting to go to class and receive an education is alarming and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.
On the other hand, it is hard to interpret what the Founding Fathers meant when they put the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights. It would be inappropriate to infer that the founding fathers had no idea what they were doing when they made this addition to the constitution, but I don’t think that they could have imagined these travesties including firearms occurring in the modern-day United States. It is hard to compare modern-day society with the 1700s, but maybe there was some wisdom in their decision making. They did write a document that accounts for the foundation of the country we all live in today, after all.
As time passes we will be able to see how the government of Iowa feels about the legality of gun ownership. We will see who the people of the Hawkeye State feel should own guns and whether or not certain restrictions, such as age, should be implemented when purchasing firearms.
I would be personally astounded if this legislature passed. It seems nonsensical to ever have a child fire a weapon, unless they were being attacked in some sort scenario that could only occur in a Quentin Tarantino movie. The risk it puts not only on the child, but also the parents, instructors and anybody else involved around this tiny person is too much for this law to ever be considered a semi logical decision.
Students share opinions around campus
Is gun control needed?
“To a certain degree, yes. It’s good to make sure that guns don’t end up in the wrong hands… (But) at the same time, people kill people.”
“I believe that we should not have gun control… We need it for our protection, but I don’t find it (as a solution).”