The controversial statements of Beto O’Rourke in the most recent Democratic debate, have sparked polarizing opinions from both sides over the divisive issue of gun ownership. This debate has been shared by both heavy advocates of control arguing for progressive reform, to opponents enraged by the idea of disrupting the current status quo.
However, in order to unpack this situation, we must first look at the cause of such discussion: mass shootings. This year, 304 Mass shootings have occurred, causing a total of 10,782 deaths. Of almost all of these major mass shootings, the grand majority have been accomplished through the use of an AR-15.
With these statistics, it seems clear that the obvious solution is to make reforms to gun legislation. Currently, our federal government lacks laws that enforce background checks (one of every five Americans buy a gun without a background check), laws mandating a permit to purchase firearms, and restrictions on the selling and ownership of assault weapons at the federal level. With the overabundance of mass shooting deaths correlated to one variable, it seems only logical that reforms be put in place to curb such tragedies from reoccurring. But its not, and here’s why.
Arguments Against Gun Control
There are a few schools of thought and regurgitated rhetoric that advocates of anti-control use to make their case, most are simply illogical. Of these are arguments like self-defense, sport, protection against tyranny, and most daunting of all: constitutional right. We will respond to these in order of their appearance, first of which is self-defense. The argument that an AR-15 is necessary for the best form of self-defense is, quite frankly, dumb. Even gun owners themselves recognize this. AR-15’s are one of the most difficult guns to fire accurately in self-defense scenarios; mobility is extremely difficult and accuracy is successful only when sitting and scoping. Gun sites themselves, report that both pistols and shotguns both act as a better tool in self-defense situations. Sport is another argument for owning assault rifles like AR-15’s, however, yet again this argument is inadequate. This assault rifle for the use of hunting is an anomaly, and if it is used, it's quite embarrassing for the hunter, wrote one hunter on americanhunter.org. “I served in the military and the M16A2/M4 was the weapon I used for 20 years. It is first and foremost designed as an assault weapon platform, no matter what the spin. A hunter does not need a semi-automatic rifle to hunt if he does he sucks and should go play video games… These are not hunters but wannabe weekend warriors,” he wrote. Next is the argument of protection against tyranny, which when conceptualized, is the most humorous of them all. The United States military has a total of 1.3 million troops, and 133 million firearms; if the government wanted to take over your local militia of 35 members, it would. Clearly, none of these application-based arguments offer a defense, even Ronald Reagan himself didn’t buy them. Yet, their claims of Constitutional Right, despite its controversy (D.C v. Heller), have adequately sufficed as protection against new regulations. Yet, even this is insufficient when we hold the standard of Constitutional Right, in comparison to another key historical instance.
The Patriot Act
Following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the American federal government took drastic steps to ensure the protection of American citizens. Most specifically, the law passed to prevent terrorism, infringed on our constitutional rights. This act, allowed governmental agencies, primarily the NSA, access to private information of its citizenry without their consent. By doing this, The Patriot violates the Constitution in four core ways:
However, the issue arises for those who defend this act, while also opposing gun control regulation. The argument of protection versus constitutional right is not only limited to the Patriot Act. We as well can look at our limits within the First Amendment (Schenck v. United States, Whitney v. California). If our speech endangers or explicitly harms others, it is not protected. It is clear: our constitutional rights go only as far as their assurance of our protection. If our rights enfringe on these protections, they are restricted. Therefore the real question to ask is: have and do assault weapons, like AR-15’s, endanger our protection enough to limit its Constitutional guarantee of ownership and distribution. If it does, then just as our legislation for the Patriot Act and Schneck v. The US achieved, restrictions regarding these rights need to be put in place to ensure the safety of American citizens. Luckily, we have data over these topics, and the evidence that these guns endanger our citizenry is an overwhelming: yes.
The Only Rational Conclusion
The arguments for self-defense, sport, and tyranny, are insufficient. The only defense that still stands is the one of a constitutional right. However, history has shown that even these rights have restrictions when they prevent the safety of its citizenry; the support for the Patriot Act and limitations on free speech show that Americans advocate this exact logic. If a right infringes on our protection, restrictions must be placed on them. Just as terrorism and threats of violence through speech, evidence shows that AR-15’s put our citizenry in the same if not more amounts of danger. The next step to deal with these dangers should be no different than how we have dealt with them previously. Action must be taken to put limitations on these Constitutional rights for the safety of our people, just as legislators did by passing the Patriot Act and restricting the First Amendment for our safety. What our nation must do now, is the same thing that it has always done: ensure the defense of its people, over irrational dogmatism.
- Noah Woods
Co-Founder, RAMBLER Magazine
How do we measure purpose and value? Is it based on the internal feelings that naturally react to the thoughts that we conduct in our brains? And if those responses to thoughts create feelings of joy and happiness, then aren’t we destined to pursue what internally fills us up? If this is true, then doesn’t this mean there is no true individual creation of purpose or passion? Rather only discovery of things we were already programmed to live for. While these things may all seem normal, we must ask the question, who is behind the “natural” reaction to our thoughts that emit some sort of emotion? We cannot merely name another human organ, such as our brains or our nervous system, because that is as repetitive and inefficient as saying our emotions. Yes, maybe these systems are the actors that allow such emotions to be expressed into our brains, but what is behind the brain that tells it to release those certain emotions? Again, we must refuse the tendency to easily answer, “well obviously the neurotransmitter or the reaction to a chemical allows the brain to react a certain way”, this question is far too important to waste our time with mere wordplay. Who, or what is the controller and regulator of these “things.” Who tells us to feel a certain way or to react a certain way? If it is not our conscious decision to feel happy or to get out of sadness, then who’s is it? I feel that our only option is to concede to this discovered observation, and recognize from our own anecdotal evidence that our emotions are not our own. But yet we recognize this and say, “oh then it is just our unconscious minds protecting us and making decisions for us.” And we say these things with such peace and such ease, but how? Are we not mortified? Are we not staggered? Are we not horrified at the thought of internal control? The question should not be to ask whether or not these observations are of veracity, as minimal observations of one's self can quickly discover that these things are true. Rather the question should be what is the unconscious, and what is this separate entity that has full and complete control of our being without us even knowing or asking for permission? If we cannot control the emotions that lead us towards our passions, desires, and pursuits, then what can we control?
- Noah Woods
Co-Founder, RAMBLER Magazine
Set into motion we are, pushed out for existence. Created by finite beings with no clarity or insight, but they guide us on our path towards destruction. They don’t know what they are doing but they pretend to for our sake. We watch them day by day, determining our reality by the lies they convey. We understand our being through the lens of our world, following the people who don’t know why they are or who they are, but hiding it for our stability. After all, what kind of parent would an individual be if they actually showed their child how lost they really are? It would be irresponsible, insanity to transparently display to their child the uncertainty that befalls them constantly before every waking second. But what does this deception, this theatre really create in their child? What attempted to be protection, leads to their detriment. It creates nothing less than a performance for the conscious adolescent. Ignorantly believing the waking lies his parental prepares for him. But this is all we know, all we were ever groomed to see was an act, displayed by characters we were told to believe. Sooner or later, we develop, we grow. Making sense of the reality before us through the perspective we were spoonfed to believe. But sooner or later, the world forces itself to creep in. Its devastation and crudeness invade the space for thought, and masters control over our waking experiences. But how can we show it? We’ve never experienced it in the sights of others. We’re forced into two schools of idea: that either we’re just different, or everyone else is just lying. In either domain, our emotion soon to follow is nothing short of horror and depression. We can’t help but wonder why others don’t express what we, the individual, are actually feeling. It’s either they just don’t have the same struggles that we do, or that they won’t show it. Naturally, it is only intuitive to think that the former can’t be true, given that our homo sapien genetic structures do not neurologically vary enough to allow deep diversity to exist among our species. Therefore, it is cognitively impossible for our being to truly be that vast in our perception of the world. This causes us to arrive at the conclusion that despite our similar cerebral struggles and thought patterns, we’re too afraid to expose it. But this paradox is as deeply interesting as it is toxic; how could a world of minds struggling together, prevent one another from showing it? What causes us to be so afraid to communicate that we don’t understand our own existence or our own purpose? What causes us to be so scared to share why we don’t feel fulfilled by money, or popularity, or drugs? The real question at hand here, is what causes us to shield the truth that we all are longing for more but don’t know where to turn for it? Despite our similarity and struggle, we hide the reality of our minds to deceive ourselves that we are all alone. As we retreat deeper into this isolation, we become more scared of the potential truth that maybe, we really are.
But we’re not.
We made sense of the world through the lies that were taught to us; that our parents were fine, that they were secure, comfortable, enlightened and omniscient. But they weren’t. They were just as confused as you and me, just as devastated by our awareness as you and me. But the beautiful opportunity that lays before us is the chance to redesign our perspective. We have the chance to show one another that the fucked up stuff that goes through your mind, goes through mine too. But we no longer can hide in the closets of our thoughts in fear. We can no longer allow ourselves to retreat to the isolating capacity of reality that simply does not exist. Trust that you share the same terrifying questions and thoughts that your fellow man does. Trust that your mind, is their mind.
Here at RAMBLER, we want to make this truth known. We view this matter as important as any. Because in the absence of transparency, we have no relationship, no community, no shared experience. But unfortunately, if we decide to run here, all we have left is isolation. But life is so much deeper than that, so much more real than that. All it takes is for us to share with one another. No more living for an identity or an act. It’s not real and it never will be. It’s time to live for each other, for the real you, because that real you is someone else's reality too. At RAMBLER, we are fostering a movement to know each other in its most genuine form. We are creating an environment that stops lies at the door. RAMBLER is YOUR space to share, YOUR space to discover, and YOUR place to find: that community, experience, living, starts with transparency. We are RAMBLER, and we live for real.
Co-Founder, RAMBLER Magazine
After hearing about this week’s “climate strike” I was tempted to remind people of some very important thoughts relating to the climate debate. This reminder is that the Green New Deal is an insufficient solution to our environmental situation: here is why. I recently attended an energy symposium at my university, and the panel featured the former president of Shell, the current director of energy operations at Shell, and the former premier of British Columbia in Canada. All of these individuals are activists for climate change and limiting emissions, yet none of them support the Green New Deal in any way, shape, or form. The former president of Shell and current professor at the University of Houston, said the Green New Deal is “an insult to human intelligence,” and I could not agree more. The Green New Deal promotes energy policy that is not theoretically possible. The bill proposes completely getting rid of fossil fuel energy. However, the only energy source that can come close to replacing coal under current technology is nuclear, but they want that gone too. Eighty-five percent of America’s energy consumption is in the form of fossil fuels or nuclear energy, with the other twelve percent being renewables such as biomass, hydroelectric, wind, solar, etc. If you’re wondering what these renewable energy sources can produce, the answer is simple: electricity. We cannot use renewable energy to replace oil or natural gas quite yet. In order to replace the energy production we get from coal and nuclear, we would have to commit to mass deforestation just to build wind and solar farms. But by doing this to make up for renewable energy shortage, the effect on emissions would be almost neutral.
With that being said, renewable energy sources can be of beneficial usage, and there is a lot of research and development constantly going into improving them. But, these energy sources are not technologically viable as a replacement for fossil fuels yet. Yes, there are major steps that can be taken to limit emissions and massively increase the amount of renewable energy that we use, but there is no way that a nation as big as ours can wipe out 88% of our energy sources and replace it with these one-dimensional and inefficient forms of energy. It’s very easy for climate strikers to go out and tell everyone that there is a problem. Yet, until a realistic solution is presented, nothing is going to change at the federal level, because we have no where else to turn yet.
Science and Technology Contributor
In 1980, Republican Presidential Candidate Ronald Reagan conducted a campaign to gain the mass support of right-wingers nationwide on his journey to the White House. Following the Democratic Presidency of Jimmy Carter that produced stagnating wages and inflated prices, Reagan looked to redirect our economy through conservative policies that would lead our country back to growth and stability. In retrospect, most Republicans felt he did just that. Supporters go so far as to say that his Presidency resembles the epitome of what the Republican Party should look like.
Advocates of Reagan dogmatically cling to his libertarian policies. They fervently boast in the successes of deregulation, free-market economics, government spending reduction, and more crudely speaking: getting their government out of their business. But to their credit, they have a reason to cling this political ideology. Overall, America was in good shape; there was peace internationally, economic growth at home, and hope in their country again. What Reagan had done was nothing out of the sort, these were mainstream beliefs that Republicans had endorsed for years. From here forth, Republicans embraced Reagan’s ideology as the basis of their platform. However, by approving of President Trump, what Republican congressmen seemingly back today, is contrary to everything their party has previously stood for before.
Economically speaking, Donald Trump’s political system is more indicative of authoritarian-socialism, than laissez faire economics. In fact, some of Donald Trump’s policies align so far left, that progressive Democrats wouldn’t even agree with them.
Trump’s America utilizes big-government through intervention, directly opposite of what any conservative has advocated for prior to him.
Let me explain, what we’re talking about.
Tariffs on Imports: Candidate Trump ran his campaign on the slogan “MAGA.” Essentially what he meant by this phrase, entails the intent to reform the American economy. Trump plans to accomplish this objective, by placing taxes on Chinese imports. He’s doing this in response to the trade deficit, arguing that China does not buy enough American products. His solution to this situation is to use government interference to help the American economy shrink the existing deficit. The only problem with supporting this as a Republican, is that it goes against everything the free market stands for. By placing tariffs, Trump directly is using the government to interfere within the private sector. This action prohibits markets to operate freely and indicates an administration focused on incorporating mercantilist policies over open market ones.
Eminent Domain: Most Republicans rejoiced in the rhetoric Trump used on the campaign trail to limit illegal immigration through the building of the wall. However, what conservatives seem to forget they’re supporting is the seizure of private property for federal usage. Universally, private property is a right that Republicans hold near and dear to their hearts. It symbolizes independence and the opportunity to survive in a capitalist nation; to call a plot of land your own. But Trump seems to disregard this deeply rooted belief in the Republican party. In order to achieve his objective of building a wall, Trump would have to take thousands of acres away from ranchers whose families have had ownership of for centuries. Yet despite these clearly socialist policies, Republicans haven’t even flinched.
Control of Corporations: On August 23, Donald Trump tweeted his intent to remove American companies out of China in response to an ongoing trade war. He insisted he would block funds from entering China, preventing all future developments regarding production to be halted in the Communist nation. Conservatives everywhere seemed to boast in this accomplishment, justifying it as a fair punishment for China’s response to the U.S.’s tariffs. However, libertarians and true conservative economists are puzzled by this mass approval. This decision by nature, puts the federal government into a system of interference, as it directly interrupts the flow of the private sector. Leaders like Hitler and Mao Zedong implemented policies through authoritarian tactics to enforce how domestic companies can manufacture. However, the idea that this practice could occur within a free-market economy, under a conservative President, is staggering.
Subsidizing Farms: For most, associating Trump within the frame of socialism is an egregious miscalculation. This is only true if we think of socialism manifests itself only as an undeserving beneficiary for the poor. While Trump is in the midst of ending support for socialism for the poor, he is exponentially widening the system for another group: farmers. Simple economics will show you that without assistance, our farmers could never compete with cheap exporters from Latin American countries. But to ensure that these individuals remain competitive, Trump defeats capitalism in its natural form by subsidizing them. This year, Trump plans to throw over 16 million dollars at agriculture workers to keep them in business. This government handout repels any notion of capitalism, as it undermines the market from developing on its own. Once again, in order to support these policies of President Trump, conservatives must retract their beliefs in small government, and rather embrace the thought of an overbearing one.
Exploding the Budget: One of the most unifying and non-debatable principles of conservatism is that fiscal responsibility is of the utmost importance; unless your Donald Trump. The budget the White House has recently administered, contains the largest expenses ever recorded by an American President. Trump’s plan asks for a whopping 4.75 trillion dollars, with increases in military spending and cuts to domestic middle-class programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Yet once again, the party of small spending has remained silent.
Where We’ve Arrived
Outside of generic social beliefs, it is impossible to pretend that in any way, Trump’s ideology aligns with the beliefs conservatives have traditionally held. Under Trump, the suggestion of small government, non-interference, and decreased spending, is frankly; out the window. Yet despite this drastic shift in political dogma, Republicans are still standing steady by his side, compromising everything they have formerly believed in. This situation is strange, and leads us to ask the question: why?
Here’s why, politics is no longer about policy anymore, it’s about identity. Being a Republican doesn’t mean you have a set of beliefs, if it did, Republicans could not rationally condone Trump’s platform. Being a Republican simply means you don’t like Democrats. There is no rational explanation for this, given these Republicans are loathing the politicians who seemingly endorse the ideology that they support. No, being a member of a political affiliation simply means you want to align yourself with a group, a person, regardless of what they stand for. It would be absurd or illusory to believe that this debate is exclusive to Republicans only; the same event happens on the Democratic side too. The real crisis in our democracy is that polarization exists today more than ever, but yet these individuals can’t explain their polarization. The situation in our country is a dire one for the fate of democracy. It is one that shows that politics is no longer about rational viewpoints or even pragmatic solutions, but rather identification and group thought. This path is one of mindlessness, one of manipulation, and ultimately one of devastation. If we don’t wake up and ask the question of why we believe what we do, the democracy we have forever cherished, will be lost.
Co-Founder, RAMBLER Magazine