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Weapons of Mass DestructionPosted Thursday, February 19, 2009, at 4:57 PM
Except for two extended trips abroad, I have lived in Missouri my entire life: Tipton, Springfield, Branson, Columbia, Nixa and now Marshall. I suppose I have always known people with guns, or perhaps just known of them; but I have never had such close interaction with the gun culture of the Midwest as I do now.
Having only seen (and fired) a gun for the first time a couple of years ago, I am very uncomfortable around them. The risk factor truly terrifies me. I understand that hunting is an enjoyable, and sometimes necessary, sport. But playing games with deadly weapons doesn't sound that fun, or wise, to me.
On multiple occasions, I have been told that, when other countries outlawed guns or made their laws stricter, crime increased. But, after living in two major international cities with few or no guns, I just don't think that is true.
On several occasions over the course of a semester, I walked alone in downtown Sydney, Australia, at night. I also rode the public transportation alone, both day and night. Never once did I feel threatened or unsafe in that city of over 4 million people. At my internship there, I was actually ridiculed for being from America where guns are beloved.
This past summer in Beijing, I again explored the city alone at all hours. My friends and I even ventured into some poor neighborhoods called "hutongs," basically ghettos, and the Chinese people only looked at us in wonder. I think the only threat to my safety in Beijing, a city of 17 million and counting, came from cars and bicyclists -- they are crazy drivers over there!
Taking another human life is something I cannot comprehend, and I hope I never have to. I know that wars are sometimes necessary, and for those, we need guns. But I also know that the United States has the highest prison rate in the world, 714 of 100,000, along with widespread gun ownership, about 35 percent. Consider this shocking statistic I found at www.bradycampaign.org/issues/gvstats/fir....
"In 2004, firearms were used to murder 56 people in Australia, 184 people in Canada, 73 people in England and Wales, 5 people in New Zealand and 37 people in Sweden. In comparison, firearms were used to murder 11,344 in the United States."
These numbers just don't add up, or perhaps they add up too well. In all likelihood, the second amendment will never be repealed, and I don't think that it should be. However, limits on one's rights are just part of Rousseau's "social contract" that is modern society; and something must be done to stop this violence that sets our nation apart from all other developed countries of the world.
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Sydney is a former staff writer for the Democrat-News. She received degrees from University of Missouri in both music and magazine journalism. She played oboe with the Marshall Philharmonic Orchestra and the Marshall Municipal Band while she was in Marshall.