Common Sense and Gun Control don’t Mix

In January of 2013 President Obama signed 23 executive orders pertaining to guns. Action number 14 deemed gun violence a serious public health issue that affects thousands of individuals, families, and communities across the Nation (Institute of Medicine and National Research Council 12). This directed the CDC to identify firearms’ effect on public health.

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This study focused on a handful of major questions. Two of which were the characteristics of gun violence and risks and protective factors. The study analyzed gun deaths and concluded that gun deaths due to accidental injury and suicide greatly outweighed those caused by homicide (Institute of Medicine and National Research Council 12-13).

This Study also outlined gun use in a defensive context. In 2017 Pew Research center study showed that about 67 percent of American gun owners stated that their primary reason for ownership was for personal defense (Parker, Horowitz, IgColumbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Orlando Nightclub, Sutherland Springs Church, Las Vegas, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas have all become imprinted in our minds. These locations stick out in Americans’ minds today as sites of some of the most horrific acts in modern history. Mass shootings have become a major issue in America today sparking debates on guns, the second amendment, and, especially, assault-style weapons. It has left many people asking what is the solution. Is it more gun control? Is it an assault-weapon ban, or a common sense ban? The answer is no. These solutions may leave people feeling safe, but do not solve the issue.

The past two decades have become an increasing hotbed for gun debate. Former President Barack Obama was an open supporter of common-sense gun safety laws, as he most recently stated in a tweet in the wake of the Stoneman Douglas Shooting (Obama). In June of 2016 the White House requested for a conference call in response to demands to renew the former assault ban. Former Vice President Biden expressed his and President Obama’s support of the ban, which was tabled to be voted on in the senate in upcoming weeks (Wheaton). President obama has always been an anti-gun activist. He grew up in chicago, which has one of the highest gun crime rates in the US (Nass). President Obama ordered the Center of Disease Control, CDC, in January of 2013 to conduct a study on guns in the US.

ielnik, Oliphant, and Brown 9). The CDC stated that numbers of defense occurrences are difficult to calculate. However, almost all national surveys show that there is a greater than or equal to relationship in number of defensive gun use compared to offensive criminal use. The CDC’s concluded that guns can be an important crime deterrent (Institute of Medicine and National Research Council 45)

The common sense gun reform proposed and supported by many is extremely flawed based on statistical data(U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation). There are many different opinions on common sense gun reform. However for sake of context and understanding, we can define it in basic terms as a ban on high powered, high capacity, military style weapons. Examples of this interrupted definition used by supporters and advocates, such as President Obama, would be the AR-15 and other modern semi-automatic sporting rifles. It is also important to define automatic and semi automatic because the terms have become confused in today’s political climate. Automatic firearms fire continuously while the trigger is pulled; semi automatic firearms fire a single round for each trigger pull.

In February of 2018, after the Parkland shooting, a NPR poll showed 75 percent of Americans were in favor of stricter, common sense gun control (Khaild). This would be very similar to the Federal Assault Weapon ban in 1994, which expired in 2004 under its sunset provision. This ban restricted civilian purchase of weapons that met certain criteria, such as rifles with pistol grips and folding stocks. However, at the end of the ban, a study released by Dr. Christopher S. Koper, professor of criminology, in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania showed the ban had no significant effect on gun crimes (Koper, Woods, and Roth 3-4). The assault ban was also confusing to the gun community because the term assault weapon was new and the lack of clear outlines left many dealers in the dark on what constituted an assault weapon. An example of its failure would be Columbine. Columbine, deemed the first modern school shooting that started them all, happened in April of 1999, during the middle of the assault weapon ban.

The ban failed and any other common sense ban of modern day would also fail. These weapons deemed weapons of war are not an issue in the United States. These weapons have become targets of the anti-gun movement due to their involvement in several mass shootings in recent years. Though mass shootings have appeared to increase in recent years, murder rates appear to be decreasing(FBI). These shootings with assault rifles are exceptions, not the rule, when it comes to murder in the U.S. A table published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 2010 to 2014 shows murder rates and by what means the murders were carried out. Rifles constituted only 248 deaths out of the 11,961 reported in the FBI table.All of these rifles are not classified as assault weapons. This number includes all rifles that consist of: assault, hunting, bolt action, single shot, lever action, and others. So the number of assault rifle deaths is likely quite smaller than the 248 number. Assault rifles are not the main source of gun violence. The same table shows 8,124 deaths were from hand guns. Most people do not support the banning of handguns even though they are used in significantly more murders. Handguns are popular,very useful, and effective due to their small size for personal defense. Knives are used in 1,567 murders, over six times as many rifle deaths. The common sense gun reform argument is flawed because they are banning weapons used less than knives in murders.

A common argument is that you do not need an AR-15 for hunting. That is true; you need something more powerful. The AR-15 is the poster child for evil assault weapons. It comes in a .233 caliber or 5.56 nato. Gun reform advocates demonize this round as too powerful, saying it was only designed for killing humans. However, a .223 caliber is considered, in the hunting community, as a varmint round, the size you would choose to kill a groundhog or racoon on your property. Hence, it is a very unpopular round for larger game such as deer. Most deer hunters will use .270, .308, or 30-06; all of these rounds are considerably more powerful than the assault round of .223/5.56. Most of these rifles would not fit any of the criteria of the 1994 ban or any modern ban. However, in most of these rounds you can still buy a 10 round or even 30 round magazine. This effectively makes them worse than these perceived assault weapons due to a larger, more powerful round with the same capacity.

The Second Amendment of the United State’s Constitution says, 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. Many people believe this is outdated and needs to be changed or even removed completely. The basis of this argument is that in 1791, when it was originally written, the firearm of the day was a musket, and the founding fathers never could have predicted the magnitude of today’s modern weapons. The issue with this argument is that the first machine style gun was invented in 1718, years before the Second Amendment was written.

Many people say the founding fathers would agree that no one needs these assault weapons. Our nation’s fathers believed in stockpiling weapons to protect against tyrannical government. This concept is hard for many Americans to understand because they have only known freedom their whole lives. However, the founding fathers had experienced tyranny first hand as subjects of the British . Founding father and fourth president James Madison spoke in Federalist Paper number 46 that armed soldiers should be 1 to every 25 arm bearing civilians. Gun statistics on number of gun owners are very unreliable and hard to get a concrete number. It is also hard to discern how many guns and armed soldiers the military currently enlists. Even without concrete figures, it is a safe bet to state, based on founding father James Madison’s ratio, that the American people are still very under armed.

A common sense gun ban as it is outlined today does not make any sense. The targeted guns are nowhere near the leading instrument used in murders in the U.S. at under 2%. The CDC has shown that guns not only are not an issue, but they are a useful crime deterrent for American citizens. Assault rifles are misconstrued by the media and politics today, as they are not even as powerful and the same capacity as modern popular hunting rifles. The second amendment was written to protect our rights to these weapons, not just muskets, and not just for hunting but for protection from tyranny. Mass shootings have become a major issue in America; however, common sense gun bans are not the answer to it. It will not fix the current issues; it will restrict law abiding citizens from their second Amendment rights.

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