Because of the country’s prevalent gun culture, the gun control controversy has become one of the most contentious topics of the twenty-first century in America. According to figures, the number of weapons owned by the general public in the United States varies between 290 and 310 million, implying that more than 40% of the population owns at least one weapon. The country’s revolutionary origins, as well as the 2nd constitutional amendment that allows gun ownership, are largely responsible for the rise of the gun culture. However, due to the negative effects of uncontrolled gun ownership, the right to own guns has come under fire. This paper provides insights into the multifaceted gun control debate, calling for stricter gun control measures by exploring some of the arguments for, against, as well as counter-arguments.
Arguments for Stricter Gun Control Measures
For decades, the proliferation of firearms has to a great extent intensified with the increasing number of deaths resulting from gun-related violence. The increasing number of homicides has often served as a brutal reminder that for the American citizens, there is no sanctuary from gun violence not in churches, schools, workplaces, or even homes. Concerning this, research indicates that approximately 85 gun violence cases are recorded every day; despite all not featured in news coverage, which translates into about 33,000 fatalities annually (Hauser). Some of the highest recorded cases of gun-related violence are as a result of suicides; which accounts for 62% of the total number of homicides, and intimate partner violence (IPV) which accounts for 50% of the people killed in domestic violence cases.
Surveys further show that in the event of domestic violence, the presence of a firearm increases the likelihood of murder by five times (Gun Violence by the Numbers). Apart from suicide and IPV and suicide, other gun-related cases are recorded as a result of assault, self-defense, both intentional and unintentional shootings, murders, as well as police interventions. As compared to nations such as Germany and Canada, America records approximately 16 to 5 times more gun-related violence cases respectively. As compared to other developing countries, America records 25 times higher gun related deaths (Lopez). Therefore, given the devastating statistics on gun-related deaths, it is, therefore, essential to establish stricter gun laws that regulate gun ownership to ensure a safer environment.
Too many Civilian Owned Firearms
Per the Pew Research Centre, more than 40% of the total population in the US possess at one gun. Further, approximately 69% of this population own not less than two guns while more than 29% own about five guns or more (Igielnik & Brown). Concerning this, statistics indicate that America has a higher number of civilian-owned firearms as compared to other global nations. Despite this, all these guns are rarely used for protection purposes.
The rise in Mass Shootings.
Another primary argument for stricter gun laws is the increasing number of annual mass shootings. Over the years, the US has continued to record a rise in mass shootings for example according to the surveys, between 2000 and 2013 America recorded 160 mass shootings, 375, 432, 307 in 2015, 2016, and 2017 respectively (Kirk & Scott). However, so far, the US recorded a drastic increase in the number of fatalities from mass shooting which stands at 346 while wounding more than 1581. In 2017 some of the deadliest massacres include the Texas massacre which resulted in 26 fatalities and occurred barely a month after the Las Vegas massacre that recorded 59 fatalities (Weaver & Lartey). Moreover, research surveys indicate that, as compared to other developing nations the US records 2-30 times higher number of fatalities from mass shootings. After the occurrence of some of the most deadly mass shootings, most Americans are now actively advocating for the renewal or rather establishment of stricter gun controls.
Current Gun Laws are Not Functional
While there exists several gun laws such as the minimum age policy, storage laws and the background checks these laws are not functional in most states. For example, regarding background checks, most of the states do not conduct a background check particular for specific types of guns. These guns are such as the short gun, rifles, and handguns sold over the back fence, by private sellers as well as from gun shows (Gun Control in the United States, 5). This background loophole is considered to be the most dangerous gaps, thus in the federal arms laws by the proponents of stricter background laws. Another indication that the current laws on guns are not functional is the increase of repeat offenders, criminals, terrorist, drug users, mentally unstable individuals as well as students in gun-related incidences inclusive of mass shooting (Kirk & Scott). The ability of the above categories of individuals to acquire firearms is a clear indication weak gun laws or failure to implement the already established laws.
Arguments against Stricter Gun Control Laws
One of the often cited reason for gun ownership by the opponents of stricter gun control policies is personal and family protection. According to a research survey carried out by the Pew Research Centre, more than 61% of the total number of gun owners in the US owned guns for protection; hence, argue that without gun their safety, as well as that of their family members, would be compromised.
However, despite their arguments, a research study carried out by the National Crime Victimization survey pointed out that despite the fact that most of the American civilians purchase guns for protection purposes approximately 99% of gun owners do not use their firearms in the event of violence or potential danger (Rebecca, 2015). This, therefore, renders gun ownership particularly of many firearms meaningless.
Conclusively, to deal with the negative impacts brought about by unregulated gun ownership, some of the effective measures include, but not limited to, the establishment of strict background laws that screen all gun owners and strict psychiatric evaluations. It is also crucial to illegalizing the manufacture, sale, and purchasing of particular types of guns such as automatic firearms, warfare guns, assault weapons and semi-automatic weapons. Another critical measure is establishing a minimum age of gun ownership and gun storage laws to avoid firearms getting into the wrong hands of either teenagers or buglers.
British Broadcasting Corporation. “Guns in the US: The statistics behind the violence”, (2016). http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-34996604 Assessed 26th November, 2017.
“Gun Violence by the Numbers”. Everytown Research, (n.d.). https://everytownresearch.org/gun-violence-by-the-numbers/. Assessed (26th November, 2017).
“Gun Control in the United States”. Open Society Institute, (2000). Pp. 15.
Hauser, C. “Gun Death Rate Rose Again in 2016, C.D.C. Says”. New York Times. (2016). Retrieved From: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/04/us/gun-death-rates.html. Assessed (26th November, 2017).
Igielnik, R. & Brown, A. “Key takeaways on Americans’ views of guns and gun ownership”. Pew Research Centre, 2017. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/06/22/key-takeaways-on-americans-views-of-guns-and-gun-ownership/ Assessed 6th November, 2017.
Lopez, G. “America’s Unique Gun Violence Problem, Explained in 17 Maps and Charts” Vox News, (2017). Retrieved From: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/10/2/16399418/us-gun-violence-statistics-maps-charts. Assessed (26th November, 2017).