Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Gun Violence Reflection

Conner Lewis
Period 8 AP US History

Tom Mauser Presentation

     Colorado Ceasefire activist Tom Mauser's presentation of gun violence and regulation was both well founded and researched. He mostly focused on the issues of gun sale regulation and how far gun rights should and actually do extend to the American people.
     The most important points of Mr. Mauser's talk primarily revolved around the ease at which one can acquire a gun without going through a background check, despite legislation requiring potential gun owners to pass a background check when purchasing a firearm. This is the result of a loophole within the legislation, making background checks only mandatory if buying from a licensed gun dealer, such as gun stores. Checks are not required when buying from unlicensed sellers at events such as gun shows or when buying from neighbors and over the internet. I saw this as the most important point in Mauser's argument because it acknowledged the fact that although steps have been made towards gun regulation, they have been made half-heartedly, and Mauser also brought up that although it is impossible to catch people planning to commit a crime with a gun for the first time, we can still take steps to prevent known criminals from obtaining firearms. Mauser also brought up the strong point that even though criminals could still easily acquire guns either over the internet or through the black market, it is fatalistic and wrong to just give up on all regulation altogether, as this regulation could prevent at least some portion of criminals from acquiring firearms.
     One thing that surprised me from Mr. Mauser's presentation was his acknowledgment that different groups of people own and desire guns for different reasons, and also the logical way he presented his arguments against certain groups. He did well to avoid the "holier than thou" approach which many people on his side obtain, rather pointing out logical solutions and answers to issues related to guns. He acknowledged that groups such as hunters own firearms as a hobby, and have owned them for many years, and noted that we should not ban all guns, and prevent people such as hunters from pursuing their hobby, simply because others use guns in either illegal or irresponsible ways. It also surprised me that he addressed that it is ludicrous to assume the US government could take away all guns from its citizens, primarily due to the sheer amount of guns in the US.
     One thing that I wish he had addressed a bit more was how many gun deaths were classified as gang violence. The reason for this is that although a gun certainly makes many crimes easier and leads to easier violence, I believe that gang violence is caused not by guns but by the underlying socio-economic climate of the community and that attempting to regulate guns across the country will not reduce violence in these communities by any noticeable amount due to the accessibility of firearms not being the cause nor being necessary for violence in these areas.
     One point that made me think of gun control in a new way which Mr. Mauser brought up was how polar the two sides seem on the issue. Most people can only hear and see the side that is entirely pro-guns and deregulation or the side that is so anti-gun they want them essentially banned. Mr. Mauser addressed how he and many others are more moderate, not wishing for guns to be banned but rather for guns to be regulated a bit more. This made me reconsider how much guns have become a partisan issue, and much like many other partisan issues, has evolved into such a polar conflict that nearly no action is taken with regards to it due to the extreme levels of disagreement.
     I was very impressed by Mr. Mauser's presentation and considered it both intelligent and sensible. He took a moderate stance which mostly goes unheard in both our legislatures and our media, and as a result proposed many new solutions and ideas which I at least had never really heard or considered. Although I may disagree with some points of his, it is hard to argue that he did not introduce very smart insights into the field of gun control and regulation.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

"Letter to the Editor"

Conner Lewis
AP US History 8
"Letter to the Editor"

Dear Editor,

          I write to you today with a heavy heart and an agitated conscious. I have always considered myself an advocate of the people, man or woman, white or black, but what I have just learned has opened my eyes upon the disparity between the treatment of slaves and freemen such as ourselves. Fortune has seen me born into a well-to-do family of New York, and as such the faculties of slavery were known but not truly grasped by my mind. However, I recently read the works of one Frederick Douglass, particularly his "The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass", which has revealed to me the barbarity of this old institution.
          For one, the extent to which slaves are deprived of not just the unalienable rights of our great nation, but those rights so basic that even beasts can boast them, sickens me to the core. The rights I am referring to are those of family, particularly Douglass' account of how he was taken from his mother at nearly twelve months old, deprived of true motherly contact. I believe that this practice infringes on not only our liberties but our very nature as communal beings. No beast, bird, or any other creature that stalks the earth can boast such a barbaric practice. In this regard, slaveholders have taken a step to reduce their very worth as men, treating other humans worse than beasts, and the fact that this occurred not in the South, but in our belov├ęd New England sickens me all the more.
           Douglass discusses that slaves are torn from their friends and family often, severing any true ties which may develop between men of the same circumstance, and further reducing a slave's ability to experience the virtues we Americans hold so dear. What concerns me is the role which the faith plays into this depravity. While I consider myself an intellectual of sorts, personal history inclines me to believe in the power of faith, however upon reading of the corruption of morals and doctrine used to justify the institution of slavery I begin to question if the side of the pious is also that of the virtuous. To display such hypocrisy, espousing morals of familial ties and virtuous action while at the same time depriving fellow men of these ties and performing wicked acts upon them displays a weak character unfit to lead anything, much less the faith.
           Slavery's continued existence has shown the corruption of values not just within the slaveholders, who deprive men of rights basic to all life, but also within our very society, as even the supposedly righteous figures in our country, such as those of the faith, see fit to deprive slaves of the rights which they then espouse as key to righteous and happy existence. Although I long espoused the abolition of the barbaric institution of slavery, Douglass' novel has acted to give an account of slavery too vivid to ignore, and one which is instrumental in raising awareness for our cause.

Thank You,
Conner J. Lewis