Does the U.S. Need Tougher Gun-Control Laws?

The United States holds the title of having one of the highest rate of gun-related deaths in the world. As that number continues to rise, and with the benefits that reap from implementing gun control in America outweighing the so called negative effects, it is no surprise that more and more people have become pro-gun control. Legislation should be passed to permit gun control laws and more regulations on guns to be put in place.

What exactly is gun control? Well, gun control is the regulation of the selling, owning and use of guns. With implementing gun control, some would argue that in doing that, the second amendment would be violated. With such broad use of fire-arms in today’s society, that statement would be a bit of a stretch as the second amendment is not a limitless right to own guns. The first time this was clarified was on June 26, 2008 at the District of Columbia v. Heller where the US Supreme Court majority decision. Judge William Fletcher wrote, Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. Later, on June 9, 2016, the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the right of the general public to carry a concealed firearm in public is not and never has been, protected by the Second Amendment,” thus supporting the law for requiring a permit for concealed carry licenses (Gonzalez). So yes, while the second amendment does allow people the right to own guns, there can be limitations, like gun control laws, put in place without violating the rights given in the constitution.

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Unsurprisingly, research has shown that with the implementation of gun control laws and regulations, gun related deaths would decrease. According to the Small Arms survey, there were 464,033 total gun deaths between 1999 and 2013. Suicides accounted for 58.2% of total deaths, homicides for 37.7%, and unintentional deaths for 2.2%, with guns being the leading cause of death by homicide and by suicide. According to a Lancet study done in 2016, implementing federal universal background checks reportedly reduced firearm deaths by a projected 56.9%. It also showed that background checks for ammunition purchases could reduce deaths by a projected 80.7%, and gun identification requirements could reduce deaths by a projected 82.5% (Should More Gun Control Laws Be Enacted?). With such high numbers of improvement, gun control laws should not be questioned as they have proven to reduce gun-related deaths and who would not want that number to decrease?

To add to that, Patricia smith writes that congress hadn’t passed major gun control legislation in two decades. This comes even after the mass shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007, at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, and at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub. Smith sheds light that only after the tragedy in Las Vegas, lawmakers seem to have found an area of agreement, which is banning the sale of bump stocks, the device Paddock used to make his semiautomatic gun fire like an automatic weapon (Smith). These horrific and preventable mass shootings show just how easy accessories like bump stocks make it to kill people at such an alarming rate though it is only a small example of why there is such a big need for gun control laws

Personally, having experienced various serious mass shooting threats at school, I believe that the government needs to wake up and see the horrors that most students have to face every day knowing that they are not even safe at school. What happened to those reassuring signs that read this campus is a gun free zone which would make students and faculty feel secure at school? Instead of those reassuring signs, we now have new policies that state that guns are allowed at school for the safety of the students and staff. I experienced a school shooting threat at Dona High School less than a month ago, and not once did I feel safer knowing that guns were allowed on the campus. I serve as a witness to show just how terrifying the thought of not knowing whether you are going to make it out alive is. The whole ordeal was horrible and caused more than half of the student body to call their parents and leave. Throughout all this commotion, our administration kept stressing the importance of education and how we should not leave school because safety procedures were in place, but none of the students could focus on learning while our lives were being put in danger. I felt helpless as the security measures taken were not sufficient at all. There was only two security guards that were placed to protect the school while the actual police was nowhere to be found for hours. Law enforcement showed up hours late and no searches were conducted to find the shooter, which made me question just how much the district really valued the student’s lives. The shooter could have easily brought the guns into school and taken many precious lives simply because no regulations or gun control laws were put in place. Some may say that school shootings and gun violence only happens in big cities, but what happened to me recently and what has happened to many other students in the nation is proof that having no gun control laws is not just an issue in the big cities, it is also a big issue in small towns such as the ones that make up the valley as well.

It is well known that the children are the future of the world, but how can the young people in charge of the future make it better if they are being held back with mass shootings at their schools? Nowadays, students are more focused on surviving the school day than on their studies, which is something that no one should have to go through. With the help of gun control laws, students can get back on track and help make America’s future a bright one without the fear of knowing that the government knowingly does nothing to prevent gun violence in the country. I can speak for myself when I say that I sure would not want my kids to grow up in a country that allows gun violence to occur without even trying to fix it.

Schools are only one example of the many places where a mass shooting can occur. Imagine if gun control laws and regulations were to be passed. Many students and many American citizens for that matter would not have to endure the wretched feeling of not being safe and thinking of the high possibility of losing their life. I believe that the government should put an end to this by doing what is right and regulating guns and how they can be purchased because, like Obama stated, [nowadays] a gun can be easier to attain than books.  That statement is truly shocking and saddening because the public is easily being exposed to such deadly weapons, which helps make gun-related mass shootings and suicides prosper. Maybe if regulations were put into place, guns would not fall into the hands of psychopaths that want to kill for pleasure.

The claim that guns are needed and used to protect oneself can be shot down as well. According to the Violence Policy Center, guns are rarely used in self-defense. Of the 29,618,300 violent crimes committed between 2007 and 2011, only 0.79% of victims protected themselves with a threat of use or use of a firearm, the least-employed protective behavior. In 2010, there were 230 “justifiable homicides” in which a private citizen used a firearm to kill a felon, compared to 8,275 criminal gun homicides. Of the 84,495,500 property crimes committed between 2007 and 2011, 0.12% of victims protected themselves with a threat of use or use of a firearm (Violence Policy Institute).

The argument that regular citizens can help stop crimes with the use of gun can be disproven. Data shows that armed civilians are unlikely to stop crimes and are actually more likely to make dangerous situations, like mass shootings, deadlier. According to Mark Follman, none of the 62 mass shootings between 1982 and 2012 were stopped by an armed civilian, thus disproving the theory of stopping the crimes. In addition, gun rights activists regularly state that the only reason why the 2002 mass shooting at the Appalachian School of Law in Virginia was stopped by armed students was because those students were comprised of current and former law enforcement officers and because the killer was out of bullets when subdued (Follman). Personally, I believe that armed civilians should leave the job up to law enforcement officers as it has been proven time and time again that armed civilians only worsen the problem.

Although gun control laws would allow American citizens to gain a lot of benefits, some might argue that gun control is not needed. Instead, some argue and advocate that what is needed is education about guns and gun safety instead of actual gun control laws. To them, guns are not responsible for killing people, instead people are the ones responsible for killing people. They believe that what the American public needs is more gun education and mental illness screening to prevent massacres like the mass shootings. The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute, or SAAMI, believes that whether in the field, at the shooting range or in the home, a responsible and knowledgeable gun owner is rarely involved in a firearms accident of any kind (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute). This can be negated though as it is common sense that gun safety has continuously been taught in schools for a long time already, yet the death rate due to guns continues to rise. Mass shootings are happening more and more even with gun safety being taught. Just look at all the recent school shootings. That clearly shows that while it is important to teach gun safety, gun control laws are desperately needed in order to reduce gun-related deaths.

Unlike the arguments against gun control laws that were easily refuted, the arguments that are pro-gun control can be backed up with positive data. For example, gun control laws have proven to decrease the death rates in countries that enforce them. Countries with restrictive gun control laws have significantly lower homicide and suicide rates by a gun than the United States. Both Switzerland and Finland are testimony to that as they require gun owners to acquire licenses and pass background checks that include mental and criminal records, among other restrictions and requirements. In 2007, Switzerland ranked number 3 in international gun ownership rates with 45.7 guns per 100 people, and in 2009, Switzerland had a mere 24 gun homicides and 253 gun suicides. Finland ranked fourth in international gun ownership rates with 45.3 guns per 100 people, which was about 2,400,000 guns total, yet in 2007, Finland only had 23 gun homicides and 172 gun suicides. The United States, categorized as having “permissive” firearm regulation, ranked first in international gun ownership rates with 88.8 guns per 100 people. In 2007, the United States had 12,632 gun homicides and 17,352 gun suicides (Global Impact of Gun Violence). The numbers clearly do not lie and show that countries that have gun control laws in effect do in fact have lower gun related homicides and suicides despite having many guns. With such alarming research, it comes as a shock that the American government refuses to take this into consideration and does not try to implement strategies that are already in effect and are proven to work.

One might ask themselves why the government has not partaken in trying to solve the issue. The answer is simple. The National Rifle Association (NRA) has been giving money to the government and money sure does talk. It is reported that they spent nearly $30 in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, so it is no surprise that Trump went from supporting a ban on assault weapons in 2000 to making the NRA a promise to eliminate gun-free zones in 2016. He has also revoked a regulation from the Obama-era that made it harder for the mentally ill to buy guns (Hasan). It is no wonder why the United States has only gone up in gun violence numbers in the recent years and why so many of the shootings and gun violence that occur today have been committed by people who are mentally unstable. The NRA is in a way bribing the government to keep quiet and stay out of gun control policies. With the government allowing such things to take place, I cannot help but come to the conclusion that the government believes a price tag can be applied to the general public’s lives. How much are our lives really worth to them? Apparently, the answer is $30, whereas in a moral society there should be no price for the precious lives that inhabit the area. Lives should be priceless especially in a place like America where peace is supposed to be promoted. With the refusal to fix such a prominent issue, countless irreplaceable and valuable lives are being taken at the cost of whatever associations like the NRA are willing to pay to stop gun control laws from being enforced.

In addition, until recently, weapons such as the AR-15 were illegal, but that national law expired a few years ago, and the power of the National Rifle Association kept it from being re-enacted. According to Brad Cook, a shareholder in the Manchester Law Firm, it is not unconstitutional to enact such restrictions, or the prior law would have been struck down. He believes the arguments of the NRA and its supporters often are reduced to bumper stickers, with only one stands out. Cook believes the phrase, Guns don’t kill people, people kill people misses the basic point. This makes sense because, if the people who kill people do not have access to automatic weapons and if bump stocks are banned, the chances are that there will be less killing (Cook). Some people might argue that the government cannot regulate everything that causes death in the country because accidents happen. For example, deaths with automobiles, fertilizer, knives, and other things cannot be eliminated by legislation, but I believe that this is not a logical reason to not try to decrease the high death toll caused by guns.

As it can clearly be seen, gun control laws are what is needed in the United States in order to reduce the high rate of gun-related deaths. They are truly the answer to the high numbers of gun violence, and by implementing them, America would be a safer place and would no longer be one of the highest ranked countries in the world with a high gun homicide rate.

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