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Gun Prohibition Not The Solution

As I was reading Eric J. Plosky ’99’s column “Reflecting on Littleton, Colorado” [April 27], I was particularly struck by its short-sightedness and ideological inconsistency.

In suggesting potential solutions to the apparent problem of societal decay highlighted by the Littleton incident, Plosky notes that he does not think it is acceptable for schools to teach religion, for it would infringe upon the rights of those who do not wish to practice Christianity or any other religion, and I agree with him. He also notes that he does not feel that it is right to censor Hollywood and other types of mass media, because it is “not necessary for the well-adjusted” and would probably “greatly annoy” them. Here too, I agree with him.

However, I was very disappointed to read his preferred solution -- remove all guns from society -- in what had been a very intelligent and reasonable column up to that point.

I can think of several things that are very wrong with his plan on both practical and ideological levels. First of all, who is he to determine what rights are valuable in the American society? He clearly values freedom of worship (or the option of non-worship), as well as the freedom of expression. Just because he personally does not value (or exercise?) his right to own and use firearms does not invalidate it as a valuable and meaningful prerogative for the millions of Americans who do utilize that freedom -- which, I might add, was also one of the principles “our country was founded on.”

To take his tack of reasoning, I can say with certainty that his solution is “not necessary for the well-adjusted”, and it would do more than just “greatly annoy” those of us who do exercise our right to bear and keep arms. It would completely destroy our way of life. It would be tantamount to a cultural genocide. And I don’t mean that in a quaint “Oh, I can’t have my gun in my closet anymore and pass it on to my grand-kids.” As a competitive shooter, on average, I spend 10 to 15 hours a week shooting, and shoot in matches here at MIT nearly every other Saturday. I have made some of my closest friendships through the shooting community.

Secondly, there is the practicality issue. Plosky’s solution would be singularly ineffective at stopping gun violence. There are over 250 million civilian-owned guns in the United States. They are not going to be leaving any time soon, no matter how hard anyone tries. And, as Plosky stated, people determined to get guns (namely, mass murderers and other such violent criminals) will always be able to obtain them under Plosky’s plan. The only thing such a law would do is hurt honest, law-abiding citizens, such as sport shooters.

For those of you who think I am promoting totally unregulated access to guns, I am not. “Well, then, what should be done about this problem?”, you may ask. There are plenty of methods that do not infringe upon legitimate ownership of firearms and are likely to be much more effective at stopping crime, but I lack the space to expound upon them here. However, I can never support a measure that prevents well-adjusted citizens from harmlessly practicing a right and a way of life that has been with Americans from the very inception of this nation.

Martin T. Stiaszny ’99
MIT Varsity Rifle Team