Elias Weiss is the opinion editor for the Arkansas Traveler, where he worked as a reporter and columnist from 2018-2019. Elias graduated with an AA degree in journalism from Central Piedmont Community College in 2018.

Fear of the anti-Second-Amendment movement caused a Republican senator to deny two basic firearm safety studies late last month.

The Arkansas Legislative Council denied two proposed gun safety studies. Rep. Denise Garner (D-Fayetteville) proposed studies last month about potential legislation to require the implementation of background checks for people purchasing firearms or receiving them via third-party transfer, and to require restraint holsters for concealed carry weapons. Restraint holsters are holsters which employ mechanisms such as buttons, switches and levers in order to safen the process of drawing the weapon, as well as prevent someone other than the owner from grabbing the gun.

Sen. Terry Rice (R-Waldron) rejected these propositions on the grounds of unconstitutionality – a violation of the Second Amendment, he claimed. 

“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” according to the U.S. Constitution. This line has been analyzed over and over again by both sides, and remains as ambiguous as ever. But are these studies really infringing on the ability of Arkansans to possess firearms?

We live in a period of uncertainty and partisanship when it comes to gun laws and gun safety. However, tactics like Beto O'Rourke's (D) viral quote, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” are dangerously inflammatory, and can serve to spark anger and resentment in not just the right, but gun owners in general – nearly 100 million Americans. In fact, the fear-mongering tactics that politicians like O’Rourke have employed to spread the ideas of weapon take-backs and a gun-free America are still disagreeable to the one-third of all Democrats who own firearms, according to information from Pew Research.

When politicians laugh flagrantly in the face of the Constitution, it ignites fear and mistrust across the aisle. And, in turn, perfectly innocent studies that simply target public safety, like this one, are rejected on the grounds of mistrust before they have a chance to be explored. As a supporter of the Second Amendment, I can still affirm that these studies are matters of public health and safety, not gun restriction.

Reasonably, any law-abiding American gun owner should have genuine concerns about safety, regarding both home safety and the risk of public attack. It is probably safe to assume the average gun owner would have no objection to a background check. However, to many on the right, gun restriction seems like the early stage of gun confiscation. Because of public policy implemented in recent years, such as both the gun-free zones and the recovery of over 23,000 guns in Chicago, combined with the gun-free rhetoric echoed frequently by the left, these fears are justified – Arkansan gun owners are fearful that these studies mirror those of Chicago in recent years, which bloomed into both the city with the heaviest gun restriction and the city with the highest total gun crime in the country.

The Arkansas Legislative Council should still revisit these two studies and reanalyze Sen. Rice’s implications of unconstitutionality. Republicans and Second Amendment advocates from both sides have the right to feel and express fear, but personal ideology needs to be set aside when it comes to matters of public safety.

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