The Overlook Journal

Gun Law Debate: The Edge of the Coin

By: Liam Gorbutt, Staff Reporter

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In light of the recent increase in school shootings in America, most recently in Parkland, Florida where 17 students were shot and killed by a lone student gunman, a new cycle of debate, protest and discussion has erupted considering the laws and ethics in gun ownership. Generally, this issue concerns two schools of thought, the pro-gun side wanting fewer restrictions in the keeping and usage of firearms and the anti-gun side wanting tighter restrictions. While these sides conflict with one another, a niche view of the issue often goes unnoticed. Those in the middle of the spectrum who own firearms believe in safer and smarter restrictions.

Recently, I had the chance to sit down with moderate gun owner, Kody Tirpak, and discuss his opinions on the debate. Tirpak is an 18-year-old Westchester native and freshmen at Westchester Community College studying Criminal Justice.

The interview began when I asked Tirpak about his reasoning for owning guns. Tirpak said that he used his guns “primarily for range shooting, enjoying the outdoors, and protecting wildlife by hunting.” I was immediately taken aback by this, leading me to ask how hunting could possibly help local wildlife. He explained to me that “local hunting controls animal population, curbing starvation in the wild by creating less demand for food and prevents the overpopulation of a certain species.”

We then moved on to talk about the more than 180 school shooting incidents that have occurred since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 14, 2012, which took the lives of 20 first-grade students and six teachers who attempted to protect their students. “It’s a very sad and hard situation that needs to be addressed in the right way” Tirpak said, in terms of his thoughts about the situation.

When asked in what way he suggested laws could be changed in order to curb incidents, Tirpak expressed that “The NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) needs to be reworked to be more detailed and selective.  I can go to a gun shop, pick what I want, the clerk calls [the purchase] in and within 15-45 minutes as long as I’m a citizen, not a felon or mentally ill, I can leave with what I bought.” For many, this change would seem reasonable, not only due to the speed a background check takes, but also for its low rate of denial. According to the FBI website, since the systems introduction in 1993, out of 203 million+ uses, there have been only 1.3 million denials.

While many students across the country chose to walk out of classrooms on March 14 and will choose to join large scale protests on March 24, many, including Tirpak, did and will not participate. “I understand what [the protesters] are trying to do, but I think it isn’t a proper use of their time.” Tirpak agreed with a number of schools who have chosen to forgo the walk out and, instead, organize group discussions, school safety seminars, etc., claiming “it’s constructive and helpful”.

I concluded the interview, asking Tirpak how he felt going forward with the numerous suggested changes to the laws concerning firearms. Tirpak expressed that “I grew up with guns. They are a part of who I am and the important thing is that as a responsible owner [of firearms], these changes that make it harder for dangerous people to get guns won’t affect me or stop me from being who I am.”

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Gun Law Debate: The Edge of the Coin