Every year Rotary Clubs across the nation sponsor a speech competition, encouraging high school students to examine an ethical problem and measure it against the four-way test. I wrote the following speech in 2013 as a high school senior. At the time I was frustrated and unable to understand how anyone could possibly think it is a good idea to implement gun control. Two years later- I still don’t understand how anyone could think this is a good idea, which is why I thought it was time to dig up the ol’ speech.
Rotary Four-Way Test
Speech Given in the Four-Way competition 2013:
Everyone on the ground! Hands on you head! Anyone moves I shoot! Get on the get on the ground! These were the terrifying words spoken by armed gunmen attempting to hold patients in medical clinic hostage in Colorado Springs last February. He would have easily succeeded, if it wouldn’t have been for an armed citizen. Jeff Ferguson, a doctor at the practice who shot the gunmen and saved over 40 lives. There have been many attempts to pass laws that prevent men like Jeff from owning guns, but we need to preserve this right. Let’s measure this right against Rotarian Herbert J. Taylors four way test. This test, which uses four questions will help us to determine if allowing citizens to own guns is ethical. Is it the truth, is it fair to all concerned, will it build good will and better friendships and is it beneficial to all concerned. Through this test we will see why American citizens desperately need to be allowed to own firearms.
Question number one. Is it the truth? Right now there is an estimated 300 million firearms owned by U.S. citizens. Guns are in and of themselves a tool, the same way chainsaws, or matches are tools. In the movie Texas Chainsaw massacre, the crazed killer uses a chainsaw to brutally murder his victims. Yet, there isn’t a single person who would argue for the prohibition of chainsaws. Chainsaws are tools used to cut down trees, not kill people. When an arsonist lights a match that burns down a building, is that match at fault? Are match manufacturers responsible for the fire? Should laws be passed prohibiting you from having and using matches, or restricting which types you can have, and in what quantities? The answer is of course not. Matches are tools; the same match that was misused by the arsonist is used to light the fireplace that keeps your house warm. Guns are tools and their sole purpose is not to kill people. They are a part of our culture; they are used for recreation, sport, hunting and defense. Guns as a creation fundamentally change certain dynamics of violence. For example they allow the weaker individual to fight the stronger.
There was a bang at the door. A 14 year old boy rushes his younger siblings who were 12, 10, and 8 upstairs, and grabs his father’s pistol on the way. On his way up the stairs he turns to see an armed man burst through the doorway. That 14 year olds name is Michael Bates. Michael took drastic measures and shot the man in order to protect himself and his younger siblings. Without his father’s pistol, Michael would have been easily victimized by the gunmen. Now imagine if suddenly a law was passed prohibiting the 300 million guns that are currently owned by private citizens. Wow, well your first thought is great! No more gun related violence. But when you really think about it you’ll realize that only the law abiding citizens would actually give up their guns, criminals who misuse guns will break that law, just like the all the other laws they break. Laws can’t control the lawless. So where would that leave law abiding American citizens? Well, they would be at an extreme disadvantage against criminals with firearms and have to rely solely on law enforcement. Guns as the great equalizer would no longer exist. The hope for the weaker individual to combat the stronger is gone and along with it vanishes the private citizen’s sense of security. The truth is, Americans need guns.
Question number two: Is it fair to all concerned? The founders of America, our fore fathers certainly thought that allowing citizens to own guns was not only fair, but a fundamental right. The bill of rights the second amendment to the constitution states 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. All American citizens are born with the right to own a gun.
“This year will go down in history! For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration! Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future!”
That is what Hitler decreed in 1935 upon initiating gun control in Germany. The citizens of Nazi Germany had no way to prevent their government from doing what every they wanted. This later resulted in the horrifying events known today as the holocaust and World War two. As Americans we are lucky that our founding fathers put in place legislation that prevented our right to bear arms from being taken from us.
“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in Government.” Thomas Jefferson. Life isn’t fair, but our fore fathers wanted us to have a fighting chance at fairness.
Question number three: Will it build good will and better friendships? Guns are not only a part of our American history but they have also become a part of our culture. They are a part of our background, our heritage, our upbringing, and our world view. Restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms amount to the destruction of a valued way of life, and are in that way a form of cultural genocide.
An alarm clock barely buzzes before its eagerly switched off, it’s still dark outside, there are seven or eight pairs of mud covered boots just inside the door, and you can hear the excitement mounting as everyone bundles up and begins anticipating what the day has in store. This is how my family starts the first day of buck season, it’s a tradition that brings my family together and has created many lasting memories. Every year my family gears up, eats a huge breakfast prepared by my grandmother and heads out with high hopes of getting a 12 point buck. Anyone who doesn’t go hunting waits anxiously for the hunting party to return so they can hear the many stories they are sure to bring back. This is how I was raised. I was also raised to know gun safety and proper usage. My father is a State Police Corporal and he holds gun safety in high regards. The ownership of guns has brought my family closer by creating traditions like the one we carry out every hunting season. There are about 50,000,000 U.S. families just like mine who own firearms, and hardly any of these families have ever harmed anyone with their guns, and virtually none ever intend to. Nearly everything these families will ever do with their guns is both legal, and largely a part of their tradition and heritage. So when we advocate restrictions on their rights to own guns, we are casting aside a part of their lives. Lasting friendships and good will are based on trust, security, values and lasting tradition. Guns are part of what brings us together, ensures good will, and builds relationships on tradition.
Question number four: Is it beneficial to all concerned? Of course allowing Americans to own guns is beneficial. Gun owner ship has declined crime rates and prevented genocides. In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control. From 1929 to 1953, about 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated. China established gun control in 1935. From 1948 to 1952, 20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves and were killed, The tragic history of civilian disarmament cries a warning against any systematic attempts to render innocent citizens ill-equipped to defend themselves from tyrant terrorists, despots or oppressive majorities. Proof of the benefits of private citizens owning firearms can best be seen when guns were taken away. The genocides that resulted and the corrupt governments that took control were direct results of gun control. When Florida passes a right to carry law, allowing citizens to carry a weapon, their crime rates dropped an average of 36% .When Texas passed its right to carry law in 1995, the murder rate averaged 30% lower than when guns were ban. Lower crime rates are simply one of the benefits that come along with private citizens owning guns.
The four-way test shows that gun ownership is ethical. It is the truth guns are a tool that level the playing field. It is fair and it is a fundamental right given to us by the founders of America, our fore fathers. It absolutely builds good will and better friendships through our culture, heritage and traditions. Lastly gun ownership is beneficial to all concerned because it lowers crime rates and provides the American people with a sense of security. A very wise person once said that nothing worth having comes without a fight. As Americans we need to have the courage to fight for our right to bear arms. It is my hope that as a nation we would recognize the value of gun ownership and stand up for our second amendment right. Thank you for your time.
–By Kyra Azzato