The ordinary American may turn a blind eye, but the truth remains that it is no longer safe out there. Our society's crime rate is that at an unprecedented rate. This high level of violence has taken many innocent lives in our country, increasing horror and sorrow. The ease of access to handguns in the United States has improved in recent years, and this has directly affected the increased degree of violence. As a result, tighter rules and legislation on gun ownership and use are required.
The rules regulating firearms and arms, in general, vary from state to state. However, both the state and federal laws must be observed for dealers, gun owners, and collectors when coming into the possession. The federal laws have a certain degree of regulation including the restriction of certain types of guns. This includes selling or possessing short-barred shotguns and machine guns. The possession of these restricted fire arms is however still possible if one is able to go through and register the weapon with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Some of the states do not however allow ownership of these weapons.
Most of citizens that are gun owners always use the second amendment of the U.S Constitution to argue for their right to gun ownership (Webster, 98). The amendment prohibits breaking of the people right to both keeping and bearing firearms. However the Brandy Handgun Violence Prevention Act, restrict gun ownership to a certain group of people. This Act excludes the convicts of crime punishable by more than a year, drug and substance addicts, fugitives, mentally challenged and defective, illegal immigrant, those that have renounced their citizenship, those with restraining orders, and those convicted of domestic violence.
Recent studies have indicated that America is leading in the world when it comes to gun ownership (Webster, 63). Over 300 million guns have been estimated to be owned by about 85 million gun owners. This high level of gun ownership in America accounts to 46% of the world’s guns with 3 to 4 American citizen gun owners having two or more guns in their possession. Most states have a gun ownership percentage that is over 50% with Wyoming leading by 59.7%, DC having the lowest gun ownership by 3.8%.
This high level of gun ownership has directly contributed to the high murder and death cases. It has been reported that over thirty thousand cases of death annually in USA are firearm relate incident. These numbers have been seen to increase in the past years. Gun related accidents have been reported to claim over 554 people every year with gun suicides claiming over eighteen thousand live annually. In addition, the rate of gun related homicide is sickening with over eleven thousand lives being lost annually. Homicides have been named as one of the leading causes of human death in America with over 68% of these homicides involving guns. This rate of homicide is among the highest in the world.
From different studies, it has been indicted that the presence or ownership of firearms actually increases the rate of these gun related crimes in our society (Webster, 65). Data obtained from these researches has indicated that on an average day, over 270 American citizens are victims of gun violence. 47 of these are always teenagers and children. All these death occur during murders, assaults, suicides, accidents, and during police interventions. It also estimated from these studies that on an average day, 87 people are killed using guns, where 33 of these deaths ruled as murder with only 183 people surviving from gun wounds.
Although there are law regulating acquiring and possession of firearms, it has been found out that 2 out of 5 gun sold in USA are done without a background history check. This has led to guns being possessed by individual not deemed fit by the law. Therefore, possession of firearms by these potential killers especially those with mental problems have over the past few years influenced the increase of gun violence in the society.
In an event of an assault, it has been reported that those in possession of a firearm are more likely to be shot at (Webster, 72). In addition, it has been noted that there has been an increase in homicides related to intimate partners. These intimate related cases has accounted for over 40% of the female homicides with victims being of age 15-50. In these homicides, it has been noted that over 55% have involved guns. The increase of gun ownership has enhanced the rate of homicides by over 2.7 times. It has also been noted that the rate of suicides among American citizens has been increasing with the rate being over 4.8 times. Furthermore, the rate of family homicides has been on a rise with 35 percent of women being victims of gun violence through murder by their husband or their boyfriends.
Although the rise of crime level in our society has been associated with large numbers of gun owners, most of the American citizens believe that the ownership of guns is a key American value. This has led to many of the citizens fighting against gun regulations and those interventions that are set to impose limited access of these weapons. This is unfortunate since most of the violence especially in those developing communities keeps growing as days go by. Most citizens feel that government should focus on gun education to curb this high level of gun violence, rather than seeking interventions that will restrict gun ownership.
Most communities in the society have been observed to have a culture of fear and violence. This has directly led to gun being used in response to fear as a way of resolving problems. Due to this intoxicating violent environment, the children and the youth always feel at risk and do not learn any nonviolent conflict resolving skills. This has led them readily dependent on the use of firearms to solve their conflicts. Therefore, fighting these violent cultures in our communities might help reduce these gun related violence.
The high rate of violence due to large gun ownership in the society greatly affects child development. This can expose the children to severe trauma leading to poor brain development, which can have a lifetime impact on the child. It has been noted that in those communities with high poverty level, the children indicate lack of numerous skill due to the high level of violence. Violence also exposes these children to stress making it hard for them to identify and deal with their emotions. These emotions if withheld, they can erupt later in life making the children aggressive and sometime even violent. Therefore, these children and youth exposed to violence need to be taught skills to reduce stress, conflict resolution skills and simple way of solving problems.
As it has been noted, high level of gun ownership is contributing to violence in our society (Webster, 98). This level of violence raises concerns on the mental health development of the children. It has also been noted that the number of children and youth in the society with mental health problem is alarming. This has also been worsened by the fact that many parent and teachers are uneducated on the mental health problems. Therefore, it is important that parents and teacher are educated so that they can be able to identify early the signs of mental problems.
In conclusion, fighting against violence in the society will require effort and collaboration from all members of the society. There is evident to impose interventions that strictly regulate firearm ownership in the society, if the level of violence is to be reduced. Every member of the community has a role to play, be it emotional support or through activism and policy initiative.
Webster, Daniel W. Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis. Johns Hopkins UP, 2013, pp. 57-123.
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