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Editor’s note: This is part two of a three-part series examining nine policy change suggestions from student journalists at Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. You can read Part 1 here.
In Part 1, we examined the first three reasons given by the Parkland kids as to why the right to own firearms should be prohibited. These “groundbreaking” ideas included a complete misunderstanding of the Second Amendment, a strawman argument, and a gross infringement of personal privacy. Let’s see if they do any better with the next few!
Change privacy laws to allow mental healthcare providers to communicate with law enforcement
“As seen in the tragedy at our school, poor communication between mental healthcare providers and law enforcement may have contributed to a disturbed person with murderous tendencies and intentions entering a school and gunning down 17 people in cold blood.”
Much like their inclusion of the high capacity magazine in with the accessories that simulate automatic fire, this is something of a red herring. Regardless of whether any mental health professional reported Cruz, the police were warned of him at least 18 times from 2008 to 2017 – hardly a failure on anyone’s part to communicate a danger to the public to the police.
Close gun show and secondhand sales loopholes
“Thanks to loopholes, people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to buy firearms are able to purchase them at gun shows and secondhand sales. The existence of these loopholes reflects the ineptitude of state and federal legislators.”
The belief in these loopholes reflects the ignorance of the believer. Good luck convincing that professional firearms salesman at the gun show, whose career and freedom depend on following the rules whether at a show or in a store, to sell you a gun without first requiring that you fill out the appropriate paperwork and pass a background check.
As for secondhand sales, that’s not a loophole; it’s how the law is supposed to work. Requiring anything that could prevent someone from owning a firearm is a pretty clear infringement on the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that requiring licensed dealers to conduct said background checks is a clever loophole that allows the government to violate the Second Amendment.
Allow the CDC to make recommendations for gun reform
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should be allowed to conduct research on the dangers of gun violence. The fact that they are currently prohibited from doing so undermines the first amendment.”
There’s nothing wrong with the first sentence, but there is absolutely nothing factually true about the second statement in the above quote. The students refer here to the Dickey Amendment, which states that “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” As Liberty Nation’s Scott Cosenza recently explained, this does not stop the CDC – or anyone else for that matter – from studying gun violence:
“You won’t have to look hard for dozens of stories that claim Dickey bans the CDC or federal government from doing research on gun violence. Well, you re-read that restriction. Is that what it says?
The provision was and is a simple self-defense tool to prevent gun grabbing politicians from using an office and personnel of the federal government as lobbyists for gun control.”
Additionally, the First Amendment states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The First Amendment protects, amongst other things, the individual’s right to free speech. It is a protection from the government and grants no boon to the government. Additionally, it says nothing of research.
Raise the firearm purchase age to 21
“In a few months from now, many of us will be turning 18. We will not be able to drink; we will not be able to rent a car. Most of us will still be living with our parents. We will not be able to purchase a handgun. And yet, we will be able to purchase an AR-15.”
Let’s begin with the simple observation that not every teen obeys these quoted laws. According to the CDC, kids between the ages of 12 and 20 drink about 11% of all the alcohol consumed in the nation. Given that about 72% of high schoolers consume some alcohol before graduation, there’s a good chance that at least some – if not most – of these “model students” have had a drink before.
At 18, these kids will be allowed to buy tobacco products – though the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services claims that about 90% of smokers start before they’re legally of age. They can enlist in the military, take up fully automatic rifles, and be trained to actively shoot at and attempt to kill other people. Additionally, most of those who choose this path would eventually end up overseas somewhere being actively shot at.
At 16, they can get behind the wheel of 2,000 – 6,000-pound car and travel down the highway at high speeds as others do the same, just inches away, going in the opposite direction. And, you guessed it, motor vehicle fatality is the leading accidental cause of death for teens in the U.S.
We need to pick an age at which we consider people adults, then stick to it. If that’s 21, fine; no smokes, cars, gun purchase, or job considered dangerous – including military service – until then. If it’s 18, great – let them do what an adult can otherwise legally do.
Oh, and the minimum age to rent a car is 18. Some companies won’t rent to anyone under 21, but that’s a matter of company policy, not law. Additionally, most rental companies add a surcharge for drivers under 21, and some even charge extra for any drivers under 25. As for living at home with parents, that has nothing to do with gun rights; people of all ages live at home with their parents, and there are probably just as many 18-year-olds out on their own as there are 30-year-olds living with their parents.
We’ll wrap up next time with the allocation of state and federal funding to mental health research and school security, as well as a much-needed explanation of the right to self-defense.