Banning Guns Could Save Lives
By Jade Walker

President Clinton and the National Rifle Association are locked in a battle of wills. Clinton wants to add more gun laws to the books and hire more cops to enforce them. The NRA wants every American to have the right to own a semiautomatic for the sake of personal protection.

I say let's cease this battle right now. The only way to end gun-related deaths is to get rid of the guns entirely. Sounds like a radical idea, doesn't it?

It's really quite simple. Let's not waste time passing any more laws restricting certain types of guns, or adding locks to Saturday night specials. All handguns and military weaponry currently in the hands of ordinary citizens should simply be collected and melted down. Instead, use this metal to make shelters for the homeless and battered, playgrounds for youths and jails for the criminals.

Corporations and police departments could offer toys or money or food in exchange for the weapons. And then, after a year has passed, people found possessing guns would be arrested and severely fined. If a gun is used to commit a crime, the violators of the gun ban should be given mandatory prison terms of no less than five to 10 years.

To make this radical change, we don't even have to alter the Constitution. Have you read the Second Amendment lately? It says: "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." How many ordinary citizens who currently own guns are members of regulated militias?

When the framers wrote the Second Amendment, they were concerned about the English. They wanted people living in America to have the right to own a musket, in order to protect against intrusion from enemies.

The framers never expected the invention of machine guns, rocket launchers and "cop killer" bullets, which are designed to go through bulletproof vests and explode inside the body. They didn't anticipate children entering schools and blowing away both teachers and fellow students in response to peer pressure.

Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger agrees. He says, "The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon."

According to the National Review, half of all American households have a gun in them. I'm talking about 250 million guns. How many of those homes have curious children in them? People with suicidal tendencies? People unable to control their tempers? Disgruntled spouses? Teens with a hankering for drugs or prestige in a local gang?

When a murder occurs, the police know that 75 percent of the time, it's committed by someone who knows the victim. Guns originally intended for "protection" aren't used against home invaders. They're used against husbands who cheat. They're used by men who simply love their wives "too much." Most frighteningly, they're used by kids who think carrying a gun makes them look "cool."

The government recalls or bans products when a few children are killed or injured. Yet it turns a blind eye to guns. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of firearm death of children under the age of 14 is nearly 23 times higher in the U.S. than in 25 other industrialized nations combined. In fact, the Justice Department says as many as 13 children die every day in the U.S. from gun violence.

Do you even know 13 children? Sit down and make a list of all the kids you personally know. Picture a room filled with these kids, then blindly shoot 13 of them to death on a daily basis. Suddenly those numbers become very real.

People are threatened every day by handguns. Two weeks ago, a 12-year-old in Ohio walked into his sixth grade class and held everyone hostage. The boy's father told police the 9-mm semiautomatic that his son took from his dresser drawer was loaded.

That same week, Chicago police were called to an elementary school after learning that shots were fired from inside. A canine unit found no offenders but did locate three unfired cartridges from a .22-caliber gun.

Last week, a University of California study said more than half of U.S. gun owners living with children keep unlocked weapons in the home. More than half.

On March 29, a father entered a South Florida high school and started firing his gun at a student who had fought with his 16-year-old son -- over a hat.

And on Monday, a plane bound for Orlando, Fla. was diverted when a passenger found a loaded gun in the bathroom sink. Anyone, a child, a terrorist or a traveler tired of having his seat kicked, could have picked up that gun and used it while in flight.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that if current trends continue, gun violence could become the leading cause of death among U.S. children, completely eclipsing auto accidents as the leading killer of kids. The AAP believes only the elimination of handguns will stop gun deaths among children. I agree.

Guns belong in the hands of two groups -- the military and the police. The military is trained to use guns for reasons of national security. The police are trained to use guns to stop violent criminals and to protect the public. The average American citizen has no reason to own a gun, and in fact will do more harm in owning one.

If we ever have a solid reason to create public militias (something that hasn't happened in more than two hundred years), then we'll use the Second Amendment to allow for the distribution of weaponry to the populace for the security of our free State.

Until that time, let's get rid of the guns. Each day we wait, another 13 kids die and countless adults as well. Such deaths can easily be avoided. I urge you to write your government officials and offer a real solution to violence in America. No more guns.