Gun control is a controversial debate in the United States (US) that pits the opponents of strict gun control rules against the proponents of the same. The debate refuses to go away because of rising cases of gun violence, especially in American schools. The National Rifle Association (NRA) and other interested lobbying groups are often at the center of opposition to gun control. The group is responsible for the 1996 Dickey Amendment, which prevented the Center for Disease Control from promoting research into gun violence. However, many private organizations and individuals continue to release statistics on gun violence. Due to increased cases of gun violence, as shown by various research, a section of the American population continues asking whether the country should have gun control. In spite of the strong opposition from the NRA and other lobbying groups, the time is ripe for Americans to review current gun control laws to come up with more stringent rules.
Americans should review current gun control policies, including the age at which people can access guns. “Previous studies have found that more permissive statewide gun laws are associated with higher levels of gun homicide and gun suicide” (Reeping et al.). This means that there is a problem with the current gun laws. One of its main weaknesses is that it allows for access to guns by people who do not have the emotional intelligence to handle an object that can cause such harm. Individuals that are below the age of 21 years old, emotionally unstable, and mentally unfit shouldn’t be allowed to purchase a gun. This is because teenagers have been associated with some of the most horrific cases of gun violence in recent US history. Both teenagers and emotionally unstable people lack the mental capacity to handle guns properly. In several recent cases, they were trigger-happy and caused significant injuries as well as loss of life.
In one such case in Parkland, Florida, a 20-year-old troubled teen Nikolas Cruz entered a high school he was expelled from and shot and killed 17 people with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle in a matter of minutes. In the immediate aftermath, the CEO of Dick’s, Ed Stack, was so moved he said he, “would immediately stop selling all assault-style rifles, no longer sell high-capacity magazines and require any gun buyer to be at least 21, regardless of local laws” (Gelles).
Gun control will help minimize the ever-increasing cases of mass shootings by instituting controls. The US needs gun control laws that require dealers to undertake thorough background checks before a sale is made. Also, local government must conduct inspections before they issue licenses to dealers as well as on a random basis to ensure compliance. “Available evidence supports the conclusion that child-access prevention laws, or safe storage laws, reduce self-inflicted fatal or nonfatal firearm injuries among youth’ (Morrall). Research also puts the US among other developed nations in terms of cases of mass shootings. These shootings have caused trauma to many parents who have joined in the call for stricter laws.
New background checks and red flag laws will help to prevent these cases by limiting access to guns by unauthorized persons, including minors. These laws will better regulate firearm issuance to responsible law-abiding citizens. Ed Stacks fittingly said after Parkland, “For the life of me, I cannot understand how people can see that having universal background checks or red-flag laws really violates anybody’s Second Amendment rights” (Gelles). Americans need stricter laws and a more thorough background check to ensure the safety of the public.
A study was conducted on the state firearm legislation (SFL) and its effect on the number of gun injuries. The study returned, ‘States without SFL has higher firearm-related injury rates, higher firearm-related mortality rate, and significant potential years of life lost compared to SFL states’ (Jehan). Learning from this research, the US government ought to identify the weaknesses in current laws by comparing it with international gun control laws. The time has come for the US government to protect the lives of its citizens by prioritizing life over big money. US laws on gun use are weak and the outcome is the high number of citizens who are maimed or killed through gun violence every day.
The other area that the US government needs to focus on is to prevent access to powerful guns by private citizens. Semi-automatic rifles and high capacity magazines are too powerful to be left in the hands of ordinary citizens and were designed for military use. Because they cover a wider range and fire off many rounds in a second, they also have high rates of casualties. With the increased cases of mass shootings, the government must do everything in its power to minimize the frequency. One such strategy is to keep military-grade guns out of reach of the population. The 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban was meant to limit the availability of large-capacity magazines and powerful riffles. Koper conducted a study to determine whether this law helped reduce injuries from gun violence. ‘Koper reached a conclusion in his study that there were mixed effects in reducing gun-related crimes due to various exemptions and loopholes in the Federal Assault Weapons Ban’ (Haynes 2). Borrowing from this research, the US should enact supporting laws to make the ban effective so that ordinary citizens cannot access these powerful weapons.
Other than controlling the legal process that leads to gun ownership, the government should also focus on the sources of undocumented guns. Rogue dealers sell illegal guns on the black market. Since this market lacks government control, the traders do not care whether the arms end up in the hands of criminals or individuals without the capacity to handle them. Consequently, they sell guns to people who use them to harm others. Before the government can institute measures to control the legal ownership of guns, it needs to focus its efforts on the sources and distribution of firearms in the market. Once the government sweeps the illegal guns off the streets, it will become easier to regulate the sale and ownership of firearms by licensed individuals.
The opponents of gun laws have often dismissed the argument that weak gun laws are the reasons for gun-related violence. According to this group, guns are not to blame for the high crimes and violence statistics in the US. These people make arguments against limiting access to firearms because they view guns as powerful tools for protection against violent crimes. The opponents of gun laws have gone further to demonstrate their point. They support their positions through studies that indicate guns are used to save and not destroy life. This hypothesis was validated in several recent studies. ‘Thirty percent of the respondents report that they probably or almost certainly saved a life through gun use’ (Vizzard 12). This statistic shows that a large proportion of Americans believe that they are safer in their homes because they have guns in their possession. Therefore, they are reluctant to accept laws that take away this right. They want to continue having and using these guns because they guarantee them the feeling of security.
Americans who protect the right to own and use guns freely argue that the Second Amendment grants them this right. When this law was enacted, the US had not developed effective law enforcement units to combat and prevent guns. The American policing system began with the local population forming militias for protection. The Second Amendment was not meant to give citizens a right to bear arms on their own. However, a swath of American society still believes in this false age-old tradition. For them, taking away the right to own guns is like taking away the ideals on which the US was founded: freedom, liberty, and courage. America is not for cowards. Instead, it is for people who are ready to stand up for their freedom and security. For citizens to enjoy these liberties, they need to have guns. They also want to limit government control on the use of guns. Despite the many arguments about guns and violence, this group still insists that the nation does not need stricter gun control rules. The politicians that subscribe to this same theory profess that its individuals not guns that kill people, but lack the resolve to tackle other challenges such as mental health.
In conclusion, the US needs strict gun control rules to minimize the casualties from mass shootings. Gun control is meant to enhance background checks and red flag laws, increase the gun access age, institute a ban on powerful guns, limit access by unauthorized individuals, and clean the streets of illegal firearms. It is true that guns are used to save lives when under violent attack. However, the numbers of Americans who lose their lives due to gun violence are more than those whose lives are saved. Therefore, the only solution to saving the lives of Americans is to have stricter gun control laws.