US gun rights: Do we need it at all?
Lack of gun control has claimed an estimate of over 100,000 victims and deaths every year. So why are we still putting up with it? BMCC undergrad Reyna Gopal reports.
In the wake of the recent Orlando mass shooting, gun violence in America has proved yet again to be one of the highest of its cases in the world. Over the years, high-profile shootings such as the ones at San Bernadino, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Wisconsin Sikh temple and so forth, represent only a small margin of the overall gun violence that are reported in mainstream media.
With that at hand, the US Senate has yet to advance proper gun control measures aimed at curbing gun sales. The ongoing debate to impose stricter law enforcement barely presented any improvement with a drastic estimated rate of over 100,000 victims and deaths every year. Given their mere efforts of controlling this epidemic, it begs the question: Why are firearms widespread in the first place?
Most gun rights advocates view gun ownership as a means of reducing crime and a form of self-defence, thus, it is considered beneficial to society. Others simply claim that employing more gun laws might not have much impact on gun crimes especially with access of illegal arms. For the most part, pro-gun advocates are opposed to the implementation of a restrictive gun regime as it could possibly lead to compulsory background checks, licensing and training for all gun owners, significant waiting periods for purchases, and so on. And although gun-related crimes can’t account for the millions of other responsible gun owners, it still does not absolve the overwhelming number of gun deaths.
According to Vox.com, America takes the lead with the highest number of gun ownership in the world – with an average of 88 per 100 people. The most rampant gun deaths, as The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, are predominantly on homicides and suicides – with recorded 21,175 suicide cases by firearm and 11,208 deaths by gun homicides in 2013 – followed by domestic violence and accidents. With firearms being at anyone’s disposal, it is hard to deny that gun ownership can be considered as a primary factor of gun violence. For instance, a study by the Harvard Injury Control Research Centre’s Means Matter project stated that those who live with guns at home are most likely to die from suicide compared
to attempted suicide cases.
The notion “guns don’t kill people; people kill people” gained stark criticism for its enigmatic argument as it dismisses the real predicament: More guns, more deaths. Indeed, gun cannot kill people on its own; people with guns do and they are capable of murdering those with or without guns. The flexible rules and culture that revolves around firearms in the US are often taken for granted given its ready accessibilities. Gun control proponents believe this to overshadow the preventive effects – leaving room for criminals and mentally ill individuals to purchase weapons without proper inspections.
President Barack Obama also contends that “the states with the most gun laws see the fewest gun-related deaths.” Following this statement, the director of UC Davis’ Violence Prevention Research Program, Garen Wintemute claimed that states with stringent gun law in relations to gun ownership have lesser crime rates. However, the commonness of gun ownership in these states is reported to be relatively low – making it convenient to enact such rulings. States with tighter gun regimes includes New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Even as statistics of gun control attests to the decline in mortality, enactment against gun violence seems to be facing filibusters throughout the years. In this case, the biggest and most powerful influence is none other than the National Rifle Association (NRA). Being gun rights enthusiast, this special interest lobby organisation has defended the US Constitution’s Second Amendment religiously, claiming that it provides US citizens the rights to bear arms. Run by executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, the NRA maintains its effects on gun policy through a significant amount of funds to political spending, mainly members of the Congress. This ruling has given a leeway for presidential nominee like Donald Trump to back his claim of preserving gun rights, by holding firearms at all times.
In addition, the demands for arms escalate when debates on gun control are current, especially after high-profile mass shootings. According to NBC News, gun manufacturing industry earns an estimate of $13.5 billion yearly income with a $1.5 billion profit. The recent Orlando massacre also saw a hike in Pink Pistols gun club membership in Atlanta, which is a gun rights association catered to LGBT community in providing training and legal use of firearms for self-defence.
On the contrary, drastic gun legislation in other leading countries such as Germany, Japan, France, UK, and Australia has clearly demonstrated a comparatively small percentage of gun-related crimes. These nations follow several incumbent general background checks that consist of psychiatric evaluation, aptitude tests and police interviews as well as a proper gun storage unit. In UK and Japan, citizen who does not hold any official or public position are prohibited from owning a firearm. Still, an interesting case to underline would be Australia’s gun crimes – which amassed 13 mass shootings in the span of 18-years from 1979 to 1996. The conservative federal government took severe measures by banning firearms by imposing a mandatory gun buy back – resulting in the decline of gun crime altogether. It is undeniable that gun crimes do happen in these countries, yet its figures combined are a far cry from the overwhelming rate of gun crimes in America.
To conclude, gun violence in the US has proven to be more detrimental than it has ever been. The very fact that America is the most heavily-armed country in the world, with the highest number of gun-related killings among first-world countries clearly illustrates how guns – regardless if it’s owned by a terrorist – will never reduce gun violence. With influential organisation such as the NRA, lobbying gun rights, it only abstain the likelihoods for America’s federal legislators to address the years-long debate of proper, strict gun control measures – albeit it is uncommon to see the failure of such policies implemented similar to other first-world countries, primarily Australia. Not only should America reduce the accessibilities of firearms, but also limit number of guns or possibly diminish gun sales as well.
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