Gun Control from Linda Ween's blog

People are entitled to have their thoughts about certain policies and issues affecting them. In the USA, for example, various systems have been mauled with controversies, with each side having those opposing the issue, and another side of those backing the issue. To prevent anything from going wrong, the policy makers have to reach a decision that lies in the middle of the controversy. Therefore, they have to compromise some of the issues on both sides to come to an understanding with the two controversial teams. One of the major controversial policies in the United States is the gun control policy. There exist parties supporting gun control and those opposing more gun control policies. Stricter gun control policies should be put in place in the United States to keep its citizens safe and potentially save lives. This paper discusses why the United States needs to develop stricter gun policies for its citizens.

The USA is one of the countries having civilians owning guns. A small arms survey conducted in 2012 concluded that for every 100 people in the USA, 88.9 possess firearms. This survey only accounts for the legal guns that the government has been able to account for. Considering the high number of firearms found possessed by Americans, one should mention that without any gun control policies, the guns are likely to fall into the wrong hands. As of 2011, the FBI crimes reports suggest that 46,313 people have been murdered using firearms between 2007 and 2011. Narrowing this number further, one could deduce that about 9,263 people were killed each year, which is 25 people each day. The USA is the only developed country with lax gun policies. This has made the firearms easy to access, and the ineffective gun tracking mechanisms have enabled the firearms to get to wrongdoers or even people who are mentally unstable and who later use them to carry out murders. Despite these numbers showing that the United States needs stricter gun control policies, some people still oppose this motion. Although these people are entitled to their opinion and they provide several arguments to support their stance, stricter gun policies should be advocated and changed into law. Doing this not only ensures that the people are safe from themselves but also protects them being killed by firearms since such murders would have occurred if the gun laws were not implemented.

Before diving into why the USA should employ stricter gun policies, a case study as to what lax gun policies do to the country should be studied and used as the main evidence of why stricter gun laws are needed. On December 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School located in Newton Connecticut, the deadliest mass shooting in a school occurred. A twenty-year-old, Adam Lanza shot 20 children who were 6-7 years old and 6 staff members. This was after Lanza had killed his mother at home. Having shot the children, dam Lanza committed suicide by shooting himself before the arrival of the first responders to the crime scene. Although no indication was seen as to why Lanza had targeted the school or even planned the action in the first place, one thing was clear - Lanza should not have been allowed by the law to own a gun at this young age. This tragedy has now set the country on a different path of now seeking stricter gun control policies to prevent such a tragedy ever again. Proposals have been made to ban the sale of some types of automatic weapons and magazines holding more than ten rounds of ammunition. This is not the first time such an action has happened. The Virginia Tech shooting is another example of how guns can be used for the evil purposes. In this case, a senior shot dead 32 people and wounded 17 others (both attacks were separate). After the shooting, the senior committed suicide. From these two case studies, one can see that having lax gun control policies can have drastic consequences for the entire population. Therefore, to prevent such cases from happening, the United States needs to employ stringent laws governing gun possession.

People must ask themselves whether having stringent gun control policies will lower the number of homicides. The answer to this question lies in the comprehensive research conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan: School of Public Health. The availability of guns in the population is a risk factor for the homicides in the United States. Therefore, guns and homicides have a direct relationship. Therefore, it can be deduced that the more available that guns are to a population, the more likely the people are to kill each other. Consequently, employing stricter gun control laws should lower the number of homicides in the United States.

Having a higher accessibility of guns by the people increases the suicide levels. According to a study by the Harvard T.H. Chan: School of Public Health, the prevalence of gun availability is a risk factor for suicide. In simple terms, the more guns there are in a population, the higher the rates of suicide in the same population are. States with higher levels of gun ownership have a suicidal rate that is almost as twice as states that have lower ownership gun levels. This report continues to claim that the people who have committed suicide were seventeen times more likely to have guns in their homes. However, the research by Harvard T.H. Chan: School of Public Health adds that contrary to the belief that the gun-owning states are more likely to have mental disorders this is not the case. These people just commit suicide. Therefore, having stringent gun policies can greatly reduce the number of suicides in the country, and this factor is among the reasons why the country should have stricter gun control policies.

Another reason why the United States should have stricter gun control policies is the fact that most of the massacres that happen make the use of legal weapons. About three-quarters of the guns used in massacres between the years 1982 to 2012 were obtained legally. They included semi-automatic handguns and various sorts of assault rifles with magazines that were of a high capacity. With the data from this research, it becomes clear that if there had been stricter gun control policies, then some of these massacres could not have happened. Having lax gun laws brings the potential for anyone to commit a massacre. Therefore, tightening the laws concerning gun ownership and possession can go a long way in preventing future massacres.

If having doubts on whether having tighter gun policies can save lives, a case study of Australia’s gun policy proves beyond reasonable doubts that stricter gun policies can reduce the number of homicides in a country. After a mass shooting in Port Arthur Australia in 1996, the Australian government decided to take action. Thirty-five people died on that day, and a fortnight later, the then Prime Minister John Howard launched a campaign to collect the weapons owned by the Australian citizens. During this time, the government destroyed close to 650,000 automatic and semi-automatic guns, after which it brought a new regulation controlling gun ownership and possession. The effects of this action proved to be fruitful. There was a 51% decline in Australian gun homicides in the first decade alone. This was in contrast to the non-gun related homicides that remained at the same level. This means that people did not turn to other means of killing such as using knives or other sharp objects; instead, they chose to stop killing altogether. From this evidence shown by Australia, which is also a developed country, it can be deduced that having stricter gun control policies can go a long way in decreasing the number of homicides in a country.

One of the arguments usually given by people opposing gun control policies is that if many civilians had guns, then the mass shootings would be prevented by the armed civilians. The truth is, everyone being armed would not help these situations. According to the research, since 1980, armed civilians had only helped such situations by 1.6%. Consequently, the help provided by the armed civilians only happened once in 30 years. Again, sometimes when civilians try to help in such situations, they end up increasing the casualty levels because the civilians might be useful in shooting at dummies, but in the field, it becomes another thing altogether. This means that arming each civilian does not help the situation. Instead, disarming them is what would help the situation since with no guns possessed by the population, the situation would not happen in the first place. Therefore, the United States needs to have a provision for stricter gun control policies to protect its citizens.

The final argument against gun control is the fact that there are already too many guns at the disposal of Americans, which means that the United States has a high gun per capita than any other country in the world. According to the article “Gun Homicides and Gun Ownership Listed by Country”, although the United States is home to less than 5% of the global population, about 35%-50% of guns are owned by the civilians. This heavily skews the global distribution of firearms by comparing those of the USA and the rest of the world. This means that the United States is the most heavily armed country in the world. Having so many heavily armed civilians means that there are those who are likely to use their guns for evil purposes. Thus, the USA should have stringent gun control policies.

Summing up the above information, one can clearly state that the United States should have stricter gun control policies. Having stricter gun control policies reduces the cases of mass shooting that have been happening in the United States lately. Most of the mass shootings involved the use of legalized guns. However, as evidenced by Australia’s case study, the country reduced the number of guns in the population, and this reduced the number of homicides caused by guns. Gun control reduces the risk factor for homicides and suicides. People are less likely to be suicidal with no guns around or even driven to commit homicides. Therefore, gun control can help to save lives of Americans. It reduces any possibility of people with bad intentions possessing guns to actualize their bad intentions. This eliminates any probability of homicides happening using guns as the weapon. Thus, gun control policies should be enacted by the United States Congress.

If this article appealed to you, check out the punishment vs rehabilitation essay.

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By Linda Ween
Added Oct 2

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