By David Pflughoeft Special to Published May 08, 2007 at 5:19 AM

Three weeks ago, our nation experienced the worst school massacre in our history. A student at Virginia Tech walked into a dorm and killed two people and then into a main teaching hall and brazenly killed many more. When the massacre was over, he had killed a total of 33 people, including himself. This was not the first large-scale school shooting. In 1999, there was the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, which left 15 dead.

Then, as now, these shootings have brought gun control issues to the forefront of public debate. Issues regarding gun safety, gun sales, and conceal carry have risen once more. In Wisconsin, legislators are attempting to pass a bill that would allow concealed carry, which allows properly licensed citizens to carry a concealed weapon.

Wisconsin is one of only two states that does not allow concealed weapons at all. There are 40 states that allow "shall-issue" conceal carry, and it involves a permit, and is sometimes limited to one handgun or possibly multiple weapons such as a gun and a knife.

In 1996, a study by the University of Chicago that showed that in states that made it legal to carry guns, problems such as homicide, rape and assault were all down a significant percentage.

"Criminals changed to crimes that involved less interaction with a victim," said John Lott, the study's author. This was proven by a study done by the Dept. of Justice that showed 34 percent of felons had been "scared off, shot at, wounded or captured by an armed victim," while 40 percent were deterred from even committing the crime due to the fact the victim might have been armed.

There are many who argue for gun control that claim that more guns on the street means more shootings and fatalities. According to the NRA Fact Sheet, in 2005, the states with right-to-carry had lower violent crimes compared to the rest of the country. Total violent crime was lower by 22 percent; murder, 30 percent; robbery, 46 percent; and aggravated assault, 12 percent.

Criminals will always be able to procure weapons. If they want to break the law and hurt someone, they will find a way to. However, law-abiding citizens of Wisconsin don't have the right to carry a handgun and defend themselves. If criminals knew that possibly more than one person in the bank they were about to rob was armed, or the person they were about to jump in the street may have a gun, would they be less likely to commit the crime?

The second amendment of the Bill of Rights gives citizens of the United States of America the right to bear arms, and it shall not be infringed. That means that we have a right to have weapons and also to carry them. It also states though, that a well-regulated militia should have this right. This means that to carry the weapon, the person should go through comprehensive training in order to obtain a permit.

This world has become a violent one. Every morning on the way to school, I hear of yet another shooting or another robbery right here in Milwaukee. I would feel safer and many others would too, knowing that crazed criminals are not the only ones carrying weapons. You never know when a criminal will show up pointing a gun in the air or at you demanding money or anything else. Statistics show dramatic decreases in violent crime rates in other states that had right-to-carry laws. Why would that be any different in Wisconsin?

On Thursday morning, May 3 a round of ammunition was found on the ground at Menomonee Falls High School, the school that I attend. The students were notified midday, after the school administration along with the police looked thoroughly into the situation. I could definitely see the fear on many kids faces and hear them try to cover their anxiety by joking about the situation. Gun violence is a very real threat and can absolutely happen anywhere. (Rumors that a student was armed also led to a lockdown at West Allis Hale that day.)

In 2005, the brutal murders of seven people attending a church service took place at the Sheraton Hotel in Brookfield. If there had been just one other person there carrying a gun, they could have stopped the shooter immediately. If just one student had had a gun in the main hall at Virginia Tech, he/she might have been able to stop the gunman and greatly reduce the death count. We, as law-abiding citizens of Wisconsin and this country, need to exercise the constitutional right we have to carry weapons, so that if a situation with a shooter comes around, we can protect ourselves and our loved ones.

David Pflughoeft Special to
David Pflughoeft is a 17-year-old junior at Menomonee Falls High School, where he plays football, baseball and basketball. He also is passionate about video games and writing. His stories have appeared in newspapers across the country.