December 13, 2017
Firearms and gunpowder are near and dear to American culture, there is no denying that fact. We revel in watching firefights and explosions on the big screen, and believe both our heroes and villains become more badass because of their armaments. Unfortunately, the United States history of gun violence within recent years tells a different reality about guns.
Americans need to call for a stronger, federal approach to enforcing gun control across all fifty states. The current federal regulations constricting guns leave millions of American citizens at risk, and cannot depend solely on states to address gun violence individually.
Americans are gunned down by the thousands year after year because of gun violence, far more than any other developed country. In the US, gun violence claims over 11,000 victims each year, or 3.5 deaths per 100,000 people. By contrast, Germany, which ranks 4th in gun ownership behind Switzerland and Finland, experiences 0.07 deaths per 100,000 people.
Our painfully frequent mass shootings feeds into a cycle of violence that will not end unless a stricter approach is adopted. It has been over a month since the shooting at Las Vegas which killed over 100 innocent concertgoers. There have been over 400 mass shootings so far in 2017 that involved at least 4 innocent civilians who were either killed or injured – more mass shootings than days in 2017 so far.These tragic shootings that happen year after year never seem to get anything done at the federal level. What happens instead is the broadcasting of mass shootings only scares citizens into buying more guns in order to protect themselves, in the absence of federal regulation. The United States owns almost half of the world’s guns worldwide, and there are more privately owned guns than American citizens.
Leaving guns as they are stifles the solution to gun violence in America, and only causes more tragedy. More guns means more gun violence, period. By state, the percentage of household gun ownership scales up with gun deaths per 100,000 people. When Missouri repealed its background check law in 2007, homicides rose by 25%. Conversely, when Connecticut tightened its handgun laws, homicides dropped by 40%.
It is true that, since 1994, gun ownership has gone up while gun violence has gone down. However, this is more attributed to an increase of the police force nationwide and the modernization of those police departments through digital technologies and profiling. It is these new technologies that have stemmed the tide of gun violence, despite the growing adoption of guns after every national tragedy reported in the media.
American citizens are often afraid or unsettled by their own police, rather than feeling more safe thanks to their presence. This is obvious when considering the multiple national incidents with police violence the nation has experienced.
On the other side of the same coin, the copious amounts of guns owned by American citizens makes police officers more afraid for their well-being, both on and off the clock. A civilian population armed to the teeth only results in a more militarized police force and higher rates of gun violence. It encourages them to adopt heavier handed countermeasures in order to keep themselves safe, instead of prioritizing the safety of American citizens.
After all is said and done, guns in the United States have led to an inexcusable amount of violence across the nation. While mass tragedies such as the attack in Los Angeles may be unavoidable, the only way to make real, permanent change into preventing gun violence is to enact gun control on the federal level of government, and pass policies that are already popular among American citizens. Universal background checks, raising gun ownership age to 21, banning the possession of guns by anyone with a domestic violence protection order, and other small restrictions on guns are modest examples of gun control that will lower the rate of gun violence across the United States.
Creating stricter gun laws would not decrease gun violence.
Instead of targeting legal gun owners, the government needs to crack down on the massive amounts of illegal guns and gun owners. Anti-Gun owners are quick to point fingers at legal gun owners when they are hardly committing the crime, less than 1/5th of all gun crime to be exact. In the United States today, there is anywhere from 270 million to 310 million legally owned guns. According to the Washington Post, of all those legally owned guns, 80 percent do not commit a gun crime, 18 percent do, while 3 percent are unknown. Creating stricter gun laws would cause very little to no effect at all on gun crime as someone obtaining guns illegally are breaking laws, so stronger gun laws would have no effect.
Buying guns through a gun show is not an easier way for people to buy guns either. Many people against guns do not believe that gun laws translate over to gun shows, but that is not true. Gun shows have the exact same laws as a gun store. A seller can face up to 25 years in federal prison for selling guns illegally. In the United States, you must be 18 to buy a shotgun or assault rifle, and 21 to buy a pistol. The age for buying a pistol is 21 is due to the fact that most gun deaths or injuries are caused by pistols. Finally, magazine size is limited, and the amount of ammo bought at a certain time is monitored as well.
Finally, the reason stricter gun laws will not lower violence is due to the fact since the creation of stricter gun laws 19 years ago, over 1 million people have been turned down the right to purchase or own a weapon. Under United States law, you can not purchase a weapon if you have been convicted of domestic violence, are a convicted drug dealer, have a mental illness, or have any history of violent crime, especially with a weapon.
To those who believe stricter gun laws would solve gun crime in America, explain why in 2013, around 20,000 people illegally owned a gun in California. Creating stricter gun laws would have no effect on those 20,000 people.
This country does have a problem with shooting deaths and injuries, but a majority are from illegal gun owners, and taking illegal guns away is how to reduce gun violence. Yes, guns are stolen, but according to PBS, only 10%-15% of guns used in a violent crime are stolen. Guns are bought through the internet and shipped into this country illegally, that needs to be shut down. Punishing a group of people who use guns in the correct way is not going to lower gun violence in America.