A teenage girl skyrocketed to the center of the gun control debate when a YouTube video of her three-minute pro-gun speech went viral, acquiring more than 2.3 million views.
Sarah Merkle, 15 of Maryland, has been shooting guns for almost eight years and is a member of the Maryland Rifle Club and Maryland State Rifle Club. She says in the video that signing anti-gun legislation would not be doing away with gun violence but rather “liberating American citizens of our constitutional rights.”
Merkle, who says that her favorite rifle is a Bushmaster, makes a gripping plea to legislators who are considering passing legislation to enact stricter gun control laws.
In her testimony, Merkle tells that she has become eligible for various shooting scholarships at prestigious universities, and the laws proposed would interfere with her eligibility to join their shooting teams.
“Achieving stricter gun control laws would obliterate any opportunity I could have had to attend a decent college on a shooting scholarship,” she says.
A provision in the Maryland law makes it more difficult for residents to transport their firearms across the state border. In the case of Merkle, it is problematic because she would be unable to shoot at a range that is located over the border in nearby Delaware. Stricter gun laws would hinder her ability to practice.
In her plea in front of Maryland State Legislature in Annapolis, Merkle says that guns are not the problem, people are.
“Purging our society of violence and murder cannot be done by gun control legislation.” She continues, saying that in passing legislation,”You are not eliminating guns from society but eliminating our ability to protect our lives, liberty and pursuits of happiness.”
Though her argument was effective and concise, that did not stop Maryland officials from approving a sweeping package of restrictions on firearms last week.
If signed into law by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who will likely sign it, the legislation would require those hoping to purchase firearms to provide fingerprints and acquire a license before their purchase. The measure would also ban the sale both high-capacity rifles and magazines with more than 10 rounds.
The legislation was passed by the Senate by a vote of 28-19.
Merkle’s appeal came at a difficult time where the nation is still morning the loss of lives from December shooting rampage in Newtown, Conn.
Just last week, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy signed into law one of the strongest and most comprehensive pieces of gun legislation in the country that deals with restrictions on weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines.
Malloy who promised to continue to fight for law changes that address gun violence, signed the legislation saying, “Today does not mark the end of our efforts.”