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Thursday, February 20, 2020

Opinion

Hypocrisy alert: Anti-gun senator arrested for trafficking weapons


Last week, California State Sen. Leland Yee was arrested by the FBI on suspicion of weapons trafficking. Yee, who was a frontrunner for secretary of state, has now been suspended from the state’s Senate as well.

Yee, a longtime Democrat known for his anti-gun stance, was arrested after allegedly offering to set up an arms deal for an undercover FBI agent who posed as an East Coast Mafia member. According to reports, he faces multiple corruption charges, and the FBI has audio evidence.

Before his indictment, Yee was known for his public stances against weapons like AR-15s and support for further gun control. When introducing and promoting bill SB 47, a proposal to ban “bullet buttons,” he was quoted as saying, “It is extremely important that individuals in the state of California do not own assault weapons. I mean, that is just so crystal clear — there is no debate, no discussion.”

Thanks to state Senators like Yee, California has a reputation for harsh control over weapon owners. Rifle magazines must be detached using the tip of a bullet to press what is usually called a “bullet button.” Pistol grips and extendable stocks are also banned in California. However, as much as California Democrats have tried regulating weapons, they have consistently shown their ignorance of the facts, and now they have shown their hypocrisy.

Democratic legislators throughout the U.S. often express their adamant disdain for things like barrel shrouds and magazines — they usually end up confused on what they actually are — and claim banning such devices will curb gun crime in the States. According to the FBI’s Supplemental Homicide Report from 1993, only 3 percent of murders were committed with rifles, while 57 percent were committed with handguns. Meanwhile, legislators target “scary” looking weapons like the AR-15, even though they are mechanically the same as any other hunting rifle and statistically are not used often in gun crimes.

Legislators have made outrageous claims, like Sen. Dianne Feinstein saying, “It’s legal to hunt humans with 15-round, 30-round, even 150-round magazines,” and Rep. Diana DeGette saying, “If you ban (magazines) in the future, the number of these high-capacity magazines is going to decrease dramatically over time, because the bullets will have been shot, and there won’t be any more available.” As we deal with this, it becomes clear that whether they can differentiate between clips or magazines, our nation’s legislators too often do not make decisions based on facts. Rather, emotional appeal and ignorance of guns has become the common motivator for controlling gun violence.

As Yee and two other Democrats in the California Senate have been suspended for their separate scandals, it should be clear that legislators should not be trusted to restrict our Second Amendment rights. Many do not have the knowledge on gun safety to make informed laws, and now it seems that some are simply trying to profit for themselves.

While perhaps some measures need to be taken and can be taken to protect citizens from gun abuse, many have too easily voted away their rights to politicians like Yee and Feinstein. Many students in particular with concealed handgun licenses are not allowed to exercise their rights to defense. Texas, as conservative as it is, is subject to Texas Penal Code Statute 46.03, under which citizens cannot bring guns onto campus, even if they wished.

Petroleum engineering junior Nehemiah Niccum said students should be allowed to carry weapons if they meet certain criteria.

“I believe students should be allowed to carry on campus,” Niccum said. “After, of course, completion of a CHL course, as well as a background check.”

Other students, such as accounting junior Deepa Titus, feel less inclined to change the status quo.

“I personally wouldn’t want college kids to have a concealed weapon, just because most of us are young and under a lot of stress. I would be worried that one day the student would reach a breaking point,” Titus said. “I also don’t feel like there is a point to have a gun on campus, because I consider (campuses) to be safe.”

I feel sympathetic for all students who worry about gun crime on campus, but what cannot be stressed enough — and what many anti-gun legislators have opted not to tell us — is that those licensed to concealed-carry are rarely guilty of violent crime. According to statistics from the Texas Department of Public Safety, CHL holders made up 0.1897 percent of crimes in Texas in 2012. Those responsible for school shootings are not CHL holders.

In a university that is ranked as one of the most dangerous in the country, students need to begin speaking up and fighting for their Second Amendment rights. Not only are our country’s legislators fooling themselves with poor reform and regulations, we’re letting them fool us.

Don’t let your right to defend yourself continue to be trampled by politicians who play the emotional appeal instead of the statistical one. Even if you are pro-gun control, none of us should be happy with current attempts at reform. It’s time for students to start demanding change.

Opinion columnist Shane Brandt is a petroleum engineering junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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