Pro: Why Gun Control is an Imperative for America
The Columbine High School massacre was once considered the epitome of gun violence, but now the atrocity doesn’t make the top ten list for most deadly mass shootings in the U.S. Our country is disproportionately impacted by gun violence compared to other developed nations, desensitizing us to these tragedies.
This desensitization has led to the mere acceptance that since the Columbine shooting, 150,000 students attending at least 170 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting according to The Washington Post. This article will examine why the U.S. has the highest amount of gun-related deaths per capita compared to other developed nations, and why arguments to support gun rights do not justify the deaths of thousands each year.
Many international experts question why the U.S. refuses to pass the necessary legislation to protect its citizens. Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit organization that tracks all U.S. gun-related incidents, has already reported 30 mass shootings in 2018. Last year there were 346 mass shootings in the U.S.–almost one mass shooting each day of the year.
These incidents are not unique to the U.S., but the volume and frequency of U.S. mass shootings and gun violence is staggering. Other nations have avoided gun crimes in their respective nations by creating in-depth legislation to protect their citizens. Following the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, Australia passed increased gun control measures that restricted some semi-automatic and self-loading guns, imposed stricter background checks and registration policies and created a mandatory buyback program on outlawed guns.
Following this legislation’s implementation, gun violence and homicide rates dropped off significantly. Australia has only had one mass shooting since, in 2002.
One common argument utilized by gun advocates states that firearms are critical for self-defense. But for every “justifiable” gun homicide in the U.S. there are 34 criminal gun homicides, 78 gun suicides, and two accidental gun deaths according to data collected by the FBI between 2008-2012.
Another common phrase is “we don’t have a gun problem, we have a people problem.” Let us be clear that it is not mental illnesses leading to mass shootings. When gun activists use this argument, they not only stigmatize individuals coping with a mental illness, but they fail to realize that other developed nations have similar levels of mental illness per capita that do not equate to similar occurrences of mass shootings.
Another common argument in the gun control debate states that implementing gun restrictions does not actually result in the decline of gun crimes–similar to the argument that criminalizing drugs does not prevent their continued use. Clearly, many crimes prevail regardless of their legality. But a few individuals violating a law does not delegitimize its ability to protect the wellbeing of the general public. In any case, the right to life will always prevail over an individual’s unrestricted right to own guns.
We are not advocating for guns to be illegal. We are simply advocating for greater restrictions in the form of universal background checks, firearms classes and legislation requiring guns to be kept in household safes.
The fact of the matter is that the U.S. has a gun problem. As Americans, we have become so attached to the notion of uncontrolled firearms that we are blinded to even the basic acknowledgement of the gun problem.
We all know them: Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Pulse Nightclub, Las Vegas, and now Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Our hearts have broken with them, we have cried real tears and sent thoughts and prayers–but if we truly care, we will commit to sending more than that. Jesus loved more radically than imagined, but he loved through action and healing–not through kind thoughts.
Ryan Binder and Kate Warner are sophomores majoring in political science and psychology, respectively.
Con: Being an Idiot Does Not Make You a Gun Expert
Following any event like the latest school shooting in Florida, countless people become advocates for stricter gun laws, reforms or “assault weapon” bans. Citizens all over the country propose solutions to make sure such evils stop. Although these actions are well-intended, most have no idea what they’re talking about. In the harsh yet clear words of political commentator Ben Shapiro, “being an idiot does not make you a gun expert.”
According to a recently published article from The Washington Post, only 22% of Americans own guns. There are currently over 300,000,000 guns legally owned and registered in the U.S. That number does not include the weapons illegally obtained or any legal but unregistered firearms 50 years or older.
As a firearms salesman and gun owner, I talk to people about “gun control” every day. I have found there are a few consistent ideas that most non-gun owners will bring up: the meaning and interpretation of the Second Amendment, their suggestions for the gun-buying process, and “assault weapons” in the hands of civilians.
The Second Amendment protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms. The Founding Fathers wrote it to allow law-abiding citizens to protect themselves from others, and more importantly to protect themselves from the government. This basically means that civilians should have access to the same weapon technology as the military. When any official introduces legislation that restricts what kinds of guns, or features of a gun that a citizen can have, they are in direct violation of their oath of office.
If Congress wants to create a Twenty-eighth Amendment repealing the Second Amendment, that is a conversation to be had–but any firearm bans or physical feature bans are not constitutional. The members of Congress should uphold the whole Constitution, not just the parts they happen to agree with.
This comes back to the frequently-asked question of “Why would a civilian need an assault weapon?” Many people imagine “scary” guns like an AR-15. To be clear, AR-15 stands for “ArmaLite Rifle model 15,” ArmaLite being the company that developed the firearm in the 1950s. It does not stand for “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle.” That said, it is a military-used platform that has many uses and configurations.
“Assault weapon” is a term that liberals made up in order strike fear into the American public to propel their own agendas. If AR-15s are being used for hunting and recreation, why do politicians and journalists continue to refer to them as “assault weapons?”
Simply put: because it sounds scary. Fear is an outstanding motivator, especially when one is ill-informed.
If we applied the same standard to handguns, we would call them “assault weapons” as well. Why don’t we call the guns used in the majority of gun crimes “assault weapons?” Because manipulation through language is not always easily achievable. We could either call a pocket knife a tool or an assault weapon. We could either call a rock a piece of earth or an assault weapon. The only criteria really used to define an assault weapon is if it looks “scary” or not.
Jacob Pelto is a freshman majoring in music education.