As this year comes to a close, America is forced to ask many questions about crucial aspects surrounding this upcoming election. The rise in mass shootings this year brings the ever so controversial issue of gun rights and restrictions off of the back burner and under the light of heated debate and scrutiny.
This year’s presidential candidates have clear opposing views on gun rights with Mitt Romney’s belief that no more restrictions of the right to bear arms is necessary, and Barack Obama’s stance that unnecessary firearms are too readily available to American citizens.
Chelsie Burch, a freshman here at Bloomsburg University says that she would like to see more restrictions on firearms in the U.S. “I believe that if someone can log on to internet sites and order high powered ammunition without any form of background check is unacceptable.”
The availability of ammunition in the past decade has gotten easier and easier for people looking for high powered rifle rounds for semi-automatic and automatic military rifles like the AK-47 and the AR-15. These guns are not permitted in the state of Pennsylvania for the use of hunting small or big game and both guns, very similar to the one that James Holmes used in the nightmarish tragedy that occurred in a Colorado movie theater in July 2012.
Sites like cheaperthandirt.com, sportsmansguide.com, and gunsamerica.com make buying a 7.62 by 39 AK-47 round, the most widely used military rifle in history, as easy as buying furnishings for your home or college books off of amazon.com
Another facet to the gun debate is the process to carry a concealed weapon or a handgun. This process now requires a concealed carry permit hopeful to walk into his or her county courthouse and fill out an application similar to that of a job application, and wait one to two weeks in order for a background check to scratch the surface of their behavioral history. If they pass the background check, their right to bear arms will come in the mail in the form of a government issued plastic card that deems them fit to carry a concealed sidearm of any caliber.
Some deem this not sufficient and some deem it a god-given right bequeathed to us by our founding fathers. This freedom to decide unhindered by censorship is the nature of the American way and the nature of this very difficult debate.
Dillon Smith, a junior, transfer student here to Bloomsburg says, “I think that from what you have told me, the process to get a concealed carry permit is very lax. I think that maybe to better this system and make the process a little more in depth and secure, it could use a mental screening of some sort.”
Mike Nolan, an avid gun collector, said, “Guns are part of the nature of America. This is the only place that you can truly be free to purchase and protect yourself with a firearm, or collect pieces of history and relics through buying historic rifles. It’s just how it is and how it has always been and I don’t see it changing anytime soon.” His views differ strongly from many of the students interviewed.
As students on campus gather in the classrooms and prepare for their futures, they must also do a little extra work this fall to make an informed and conscious decision free from the trap of political party obligations. Gun rights are forced back up on the observation table, and it’s the student’s job to look at every part of it. The youth of the country will decide not only about guns, but will be the weight of the pendulum in this election.