“We lose eight children and teenagers to gun violence every day. If a mysterious virus suddenly started killing eight of our children every day, America would mobilize teams of doctors and public health officials. We would move heaven and earth until we found a way to protect our children. But not with gun violence.”
― Elizabeth Warren, A Fighting Chance
Every American, by the Second Amendment, has the inalienable right to purchase, own, and fire a gun. Because of the law guns have been perceived as a part of life that simply exists. However, throughout the last few decades, this topic has become controversial because of extreme violence that occurs when guns are at play. The reason for the controversy is that the laws surrounding the acquiring of a gun, in the USA, are menial, leading to almost any person having the ability to purchase a firearm. With the ease that people are able to get a gun, own a gun, and use a gun, many people who are not fit owners roam the streets of this country and cause irrevocable harm to innocent citizens. Since many deaths have occurred due to gun violence, especially in recent years, the national gun laws should be revised in order to increase gun knowledge and limit gun distribution.
Owning a gun has been the right of every American since December 1791, when the Second Amendment was written. “Not only does the amendment guarantee citizens the right to have guns, they say, it states that this right shall not be violated” (MacKay, 25). Not only would taking away this right go against the constitutional rights of citizens, it would not solve the problem of gun violence. “More guns do not equal more crimes,” in the same way that less guns do not equal less crimes (MacKay 61). Guns are not the problem, or at least that is what some people would like to say. However, it is clear that although guns do not cause the problems, they are a large contributor. Owning a gun makes a person two times more likely to die by a gun (EverytimeResearch). The risk is doubled due to owning a gun, this does not include accounts of suicide, where owning a gun makes a person three times more more likely to die by a gun suicide.
Guns end lives, because that is what they are designed to do, they are not meant to hurt or injure, they are meant to kill (MacKay 42). An everyday person does not need a weapon designed to kill people, because when everyday people have weapons that are designed to kill, that leads to death. In America, around one hundred people are shot and killed every day, with at least thirteen of those being children or teenagers (EverytownResearch). This is an insanely high number. It adds up to well over thirty thousand people being shot and killed in a year. Thirty thousand mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, friends, husbands, wives, cousins, aunts, uncles, thirty thousand people killed every year. Firearms are the second leading cause of death for American children and teens (EverytownResearch). The only thing that kills more people per year than guns, is cars.
While owning a gun may increase one’s risk of gun related death or injury, there are a few other factors that go into play. For example, forty percent of convicted felons who used a gun in the crime that put them in prison said they got the gun from a friend or family member, and only twenty percent of felons convicted of gun-related crimes said that they had bought their weapons at licensed pawn shops, stores, or gun shows (MacKay 50-51). This means that only one fifth of all felons who used a gun to commit their crimes, legally owned the gun that was used. With this information, it can easily be seen that limiting gun distribution would only be able to stop twenty percent of the gun related crimes.
In 1938 a federal gun control law was passed that outlawed the sale of firearms to any convicted felons anywhere in the country, this was called the 1938 Federal Firearms Act (MacKay 80). This was a huge step forward, because before this was passed, someone who commit murder could have, upon release from prison be allowed to go legally buy a gun and commit murder again. With the Federal Firearms Act, that person is no longer allowed to ever buy a gun legally again. Another example of a gun control law that had a positive impact on society could be when in 1994 when a ban was placed on assault style weapons. After this ban was placed, there was a sixty-six percent decline in the frequency of assault weapons used in crime (Alters 121). This means then when those assault guns were banned. there was a large drop in their use in crimes.
While there are a large amount of guns in the U.S., well over three hundred million to be exact, only around five hundred thousand of them are used to commit crimes every year (MacKay 62). This means that 99.83% of guns in the U.S. are never used in crimes. That makes the percentage of guns used in crimes insanely small, showing that guns are not the problem, people are. The only way to fix that is to put more restrictions on who is allowed to own guns, to do more thorough background checks, to check mental health, and to have regular check ups to make sure a person is still fit to own a gun.
Limiting gun distribution would stop innocent people from being victimized by over forty percent of criminals who are using guns that are not legally owned by them. This means that limiting gun distribution could actually have the opposite effect of what it would be trying to do. It not only would stop people from being able to defend themselves, but it would also not even stop the people who legally buy guns to commit crimes with. This is because even if they can not legally buy guns to commit crimes with, those people could still buy guns from the black market, which would not be affected any laws stopping gun distribution. However, a gun is not always the most effective choice for fending off an intruder (MacKay 49). This is because not everyone who carries a gun is necessarily skilled at using it responsibly (MacKay 82). This means that while gun distribution laws could stop people from purchasing guns to defend themselves with, there are plenty of other, more effective, ways to defend someone from from allowing themselves to be victimized. This is because although somebody might purchase a gun to defend themselves with, they might not know how to use it or might not be comfortable enough to actually shoot a person. However, if somebody had pepper spray, they would easily have no trouble defending themselves or feeling guilt for stopping their attacker.
Suicide is a serious problem. There is a lot that goes on in someones life that could lead them to suicide, but there are ways to help stop this, because suicide is never the answer. But many people who are suicidal do looks to guns, because guns do make suicide so much simplier and easier to follow through with. It gives people a fast and effective death, with eighty-five percent of gun suicides ending in death (EverytownResearch). Where as less that five percent of suicide attempts without guns end in death (EverytownResearch). This means that if less people of those people had had easy access to guns, they would still be alive today. In America, there are more than thirty thousand gun related deaths per year (Alters 118). While that is a crazy high number, it does not paint the full picture. Over two-thirds of all gun related deaths in the U.S. every year come from suicide (EverytownResearch). That means that less people die from homicides every year than people who die from suicide (MacKay 67). This problem could be solved with more rules and regulations regarding mental health being taken into consideration when someone applies for a gun license or is trying to buy a gun.
A very common gun used in crimes are semi automatic handguns. They are easy to use and can shoot a lot of bullets in a short amount of time, making them very effective. When the District of Columbia put a ban on handguns the murder rate fell from thiry-seven per every one hundred thousand people to only twenty-seven per every hundred thousand people (Alters 125). This is a drop of over thirty percent of murders just because of the ban of one kind of gun. Imagine the impact that could come from a ban of more guns or different rules.
With different rules or regulations, there could be an even greater drop in murder rates. Why be happy with a thirty percent drop in rates if there is a way to make the rates drop fifty percent? Or even seventy percent? Why not try to make the murder rates drop completely? Now, obviously no gun laws could stop murder completely, but they could help. What if, instead of only banning handguns, assault weapons were also banned? Assault weapons make up eight percent of the guns used in crimes (Alters 119). A ban on assault weapons could drop the murder rates down to close to forty percent. That could really make a difference.
Something that gun right activists have been saying is. “what if we started treating guns like cars?” Cars, after all, kill over forty thousand people per year, which is just a few more than the same as guns kill per year. However, most people see deaths from car accidents as an inevitable consequence of people being allowed to have their own personal cars. People see that as long as cars are allowed to be personally owned, then there will be car accidents. People accept this because anybody can agree that the value of cars is greater than the negative consequences that come from car accidents.
Some gun rights advocates would say that guns and cars should have the same rules and regulations. This would mean no federal laws or nation wide regulations, and statewide licenses could be earned the same way a driver’s license is earned, with a simple test at sixteen years old. Similar to a driver’s license, the gun license would be good in all fifty states and you would not need a license if you were on your own private property. This would be much less strict and have many fewer regulations than the current firearm regulations. Buying a car is simple, you do not need a background check or have to sit through a waiting period to get the car and cars can be bought by anyone, even if they have committed a violent crime, or are not a U.S. citizen, or were dishonorably charged from the military whereas none of those people can buy guns with the federal gun laws that we have today (Burrus).
While at first glance treating guns and cars the same may seem like not such a bad idea, it is when you look into it that shows itself as quite a terrible idea. Cars are necessary for everyday life. You need a car to drive to work, you need a car to drive to school or to go shopping or even to pick up a Christmas tree. You need a car to drive to go visit your grandparents for the holidays. In all, cars are an essential part of life that a vast majority of people could not live without. However, guns are nothing similar to that. You do not need a gun for everyday life. It is debatable whether or not an everyday person needs a gun at all. But it is definitely true that convicted felons, non U.S. citizens, and sixteen year old kids should not be able to own guns, all of which can own cars legally right now.
Homicide is a serious crime, it involves someone taking a person’s life. It involves somebody dying, and that person’s family and friends losing a loved one forever. So when a statistic shows that of the Americans who lose their lives to homicide each year, sixty-eight percent are killed with guns (MacKay, 43). This means that not only is homicide a big problem, guns are contributing to the problem. It means guns are killing people, a lot of people. Add that with the fact that a third of all gun related deaths come from homicides, then there is a serious problem (EverytownResearch).
America as a whole has a problem with guns. This can be seen when America’s gun related death statistics are put up against other countries. America is leading the world in gun related homicides with over four per every hundred thousand people (EverytownResearch). This sounds like a pretty small number but with put in comparison with other countries it is actually pretty large number. For comparison, America’s gun homicide rate is twenty five times that of the second leading country, who has just under two per every hundred thousand residents (EverytownResearch).
Every year, over thirty thousand people are killed from gun violence. Every day, over one hundred people are killed from gun violence. Every day, more than eight children and teenagers are killed from gun violence. With this information it is pretty clear that guns are killing people, a lot of people. The only way to really be able to stop all this would be to change things. Rules need to change. Laws need to change. The way these statistics are looked at needs to change. As a whole, this system needs to change.
- 4, April. “Gun Violence in America.” EverytownResearch.org, 14 Aug. 2019, everytownresearch.org/gun-violence-america/.
- Alters, Sandra M. ‘There Should be Stricter Gun Control Laws.’ Gun Control: Restricting Rights or Protecting People?, 2009 ed., Gale, 2009, pp. 117-122. Information Plus Reference Series. Gale eBooks, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX1838600015/GVRL?u=prov93408&sid=GVRL&xid=708dd0fb. Accessed 3 Oct. 2019.
- Alters, Sandra M. ‘There Should Not be Stricter Gun Control Laws.’ Gun Control: Restricting Rights or Protecting People?, 2009 ed., Gale, 2009, pp. 123-128. Information Plus Reference Series. Gale eBooks, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX1838600016/GVRL?u=prov93408&sid=GVRL&xid=7575492c. Accessed 3 Oct. 2019.
- Burrus, Trevor. “What If We Treated Guns Like Cars? Then We Might Be Able to Enact Truly ‘Common-Sense’ Gun Laws.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 6 Oct. 2017, www.forbes.com/sites/trevorburrus/2017/10/06/what-if-we-treated-guns-like-cars-then-we-might-be-able-to-enact-truly-common-sense-gun-laws/#58d719fb2c73.
- Glastris, William V., Jr., and Sara Hodgkins. “How to Stem Gun Violence By Making Gun Owners Rich.” Washington Monthly, vol. 50, no. 11/12, Nov. 2018, p. 45. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f5h&AN=132795786&site=ehost-live.
- MacKay, Jenny. ‘Arguments in Favor of Gun Control.’ Gun Control, Lucent Books, 2013, pp. 1-57. Hot Topics. Gale eBooks, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX2739100009/GVRL?u=prov93408&sid=GVRL&xid=0850e503. Accessed 3 Oct. 2019.
- MacKay, Jenny. ‘Arguments in Favor of Gun Control.’ Gun Control, Lucent Books, 2013, pp. 41-57. Hot Topics. Gale eBooks, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX2739100009/GVRL?u=prov93408&sid=GVRL&xid=0850e503. Accessed 8 Oct. 2019.
- MacKay, Jenny. ‘Arguments in Favor of Gun Rights.’ Gun Control, Lucent Books, 2013, pp. 58-74. Hot Topics. Gale eBooks, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX2739100010/GVRL?u=prov93408&sid=GVRL&xid=e74374b9. Accessed 7 Oct. 2019.
- MacKay, Jenny. ‘Guns and the Law in U.S. History.’ Gun Control, Lucent Books, 2013, pp. 9-24. Hot Topics. Gale eBooks, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX2739100007/GVRL?u=prov93408&sid=GVRL&xid=ffc56d88. Accessed 3 Oct. 2019.
- MacKay, Jenny. ‘Legal Issues in the Gun Control Debate.’ Gun Control, Lucent Books, 2013, pp. 25-40. Hot Topics. Gale eBooks, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX2739100008/GVRL?u=prov93408&sid=GVRL&xid=2a31e218. Accessed 14 Oct. 2019.
- MacKay, Jenny. ‘The Gun Control Battle Rages on.’ Gun Control, Lucent Books, 2013, pp. 75-90. Hot Topics. Gale eBooks, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX2739100011/GVRL?u=prov93408&sid=GVRL&xid=82b438aa. Accessed 13 Oct. 2019.
- ‘What Advocacy Groups Say.’ Critical Perspectives on Gun Control, edited by Anne C. Cunningham, Enslow, 2017, pp. 110-157. Analyzing the Issues. Gale eBooks, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX7243600010/GVRL?u=prov93408&sid=GVRL&xid=c49246c7. Accessed 3 Oct. 2019.