Accidents Happen. Homicides Shouldn’t.

On Saturday April 17, 2004, holding a custom made flint-lock rifle, Vice President Dick Cheney addressed the NRA’s (National Rife Association) 133rd annual convention. On Saturday February 11, 2006, holding a 28-gauge shotgun Vice President Dick Cheney shot 78-year-old Harry Whittington, hitting him in the face, neck, chest and upper torso.

At the famous Armstrong Ranch, Cheney was doing what he claims the constitution protects. He believes that the 2nd amendment gives him the right to have a gun and shoot it at a bird and accidentally (oops) hit a person.

At the end of the 18th century this country was still in its infancy and its army was mostly local militia who would come together to fight when called upon. Living then required most people to hunt and to be ready to fight off aggressors on their lands, and for some, guns were used to keep slaves in check. Today, however, we have a police force whose job is to fight off the invaders, and for most of us, hunting is nothing but a sport. There are still those who go out to hunt for food and eat what they shoot because they have no other option. For those people having a hunting rifle is appropriate. However, for anyone else, there is no reason to have a gun.

The dangers of guns are extraordinary. In the United States over 30,000 people die each year from gun violence, with handguns causing two thirds of these deaths. Handguns are weapons traditionally not used for hunting and have no place in the hands of civilians. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that once Washington D.C. banned handguns, firearm related homicide and suicide dropped 25 percent. Any weapon that can hardly be used for hunting, and that has such a sizeable affect on the homicide and suicide rates in America, is detrimental to people and should be outlawed by the government.

Just owning a gun has an impact on people. Simply having a firearm in your house increases the risk of homicide of your household members threefold and makes the risk of suicide 5 times more likely compared to homes where no gun is present. These numbers show that any gun is dangerous, and regardless of what your reason for having it, a gun still puts yourself and others in danger.

Cheney is not the only one to accidentally shoot a person when hunting. Hunting accidents happen and cause over 70 deaths each year, and an additional 700 injuries. These accidents are a constant reminder of the dangers hunting and gun use poses on society

For those who are hunting for sport, Cheney’s shooting should be a wake up call that guns should not be used outside of a survival tool for those who need it. The government makes laws to protect people. Drinking and drug laws, speed limits and most other laws are all meant to safeguard people from danger. However, despite the dangers of firearms, the current government continues to support the NRA and the rights of gun owners.

The NRA is one of the largest lobbying groups in America and has been influencing government policy for years, and until the danger of guns is something that people recognize, it will continue to have the power to keep killers on the streets. Dick Cheney’s almost fatal mistake should be enough proof that guns do not belong in the hands of anyone who does not absolutely need them.

These accidents and deaths are a major problem in our society, as gun owners continue to be allowed to possess their weapons of minor destruction. With over 30,000 people dying from guns each year, it is about time that the government recognizes this danger. After all, they recognized the danger of marijuana, which has never been recorded as a cause of death. The right to bear arms was a necessity in this country over 200 years ago, but we have come a long way from the days of the Revolution. People should no longer be able to carry these deadly weapons.