By: Sean Donovan ‘19
In the United States there are an estimated 390,000,000 guns throughout the country. Per every 100 people in the US there are 120 guns. According to the CDC there were more than 38,000-gun related deaths in 2016. But over 25,000 of these deaths were individuals who tragically took their own lives. Leaving a total of 11,000 deaths ruled as homicides due to rampant gun violence in America. Though we can’t be certain of all the numbers because many cases don’t get solved, we know that 65% of gun deaths are related to handguns. This leaves 28% of gun deaths without a certain indication of what type of firearm that was used because these cases either haven’t been solved or have not been released to the public. That leaves 7% of gun related deaths that have the potential to be any type of firearm, including the AR-15, or as many media outlets refer to it, “Assault Rifles.” With massive amounts of firearms in the hands of civilians, the question is what needs to be changed to save American Lives?
This debate ranges in all walks of America, but the barrier between groups of people in America is wide on the topic. By this I can make two groups. The urban population, and the rural population. These two groups of people couldn’t be more divided on gun control and for good reason. The question between the two is “what is the purpose of a firearm?” Many in a city setting will say a gun is a tool used to kill and take other human lives, whereas in more rural areas of America a gun is used to hunt, protect and defend. Though the results will vary, this is the general difference between rural and urban America.
Now what ideas have been proposed? Some Media sources recommend we follow in the footsteps of other countries like Australia or Europe. This would involve a massive government funded gun buyback and make it mandatory that all gun owners turn in their guns; and at the same time make it illegal for civilians to own guns or certain types of guns. On the other side, there are also groups and organizations that believe there should be minimal to no gun laws and regulations in America. The thinking is the open ability and readily available supply of guns, Americans will be able to arm themselves and keep themselves safe and protected.
Now we must look at what our Constitution says. In America, every law-abiding citizen has a God given right, protected by the US Constitution, to bear arms in a regulated militia. It is out of the picture to even suggest a gun ban or buy back in America. This would be a violation of the Constitution and American citizens would rightly disobey this action. It is a clear indication of the government attempting to take freedom from the people when they try to disarm its own citizens. When the founding fathers built this nation, they created America to escape Europe and the control the Motherland had on them. The Founding Fathers purpose was to oppose government control over the people, they envisioned a society governed by the people. They created a document to lay out the freedoms we as Americans enjoy, by limiting the power of the Government and its control over us.
After all this, what is our next step? The goal is to save American lives. Law abiding citizens are not the problem in America because they are the ones who save lives. On average according to the CDC, guns are used between 500,000-three million times a year in cases of self defence and protection. Another study estimated that there are over one million DGU (Defensive Gun Use) cases each year where a law-abiding citizen used a gun in self-defense. Furthermore, in the over one million cases only 258 killings by a private citizen were proven to be unlawful. It is also important to realize most shootings last less than 13 minutes and the police response time to get to a scene can take up to 18 minutes. Leaving innocent people in a situation where units may not be able to respond until after the tragedy has happened. But when a law abiding citizen is on site lives can be saved, and in some cases overt the entire situation. Shootings can happen anytime and anywhere, making the realization of going outside in the morning scary, but many citizens realize this fact and will arm themselves so that they can defend against threats. However, it is clear that many gun control provisions effect the law-abiding citizen and not the criminal. By limiting the choices of a person to what they can purchase we are indicating two things. One, that they can not be trusted to follow the rules and regulations put out by the federal government, and two that they cannot arm themselves with the gun that best suits their needs.
Criminals are the main issue. They are the ones who don’t follow laws and realize that with more regulation less people can fight back and defend themselves. The real issue is the availability of guns and that many guns are purchased or obtained illegally, and in often cases these guns are used in crimes. Many criminals don’t get their firearms through legal outlets because they are unable to pass the background check due to a criminal history. But by purchasing firearms illegally, through the black market, or through other criminal outlets, these guns are not traced and are used to take the lives of others.
We must also look at those who buy guns legally and then commit crimes. Most of these people have one thing in common, a clean background check. This becomes an issue because if a person passes a background check, they can purchase a firearm legally. In these background checks the information provided isn’t as comprehensive as many argue it should be. Basic gun background searches for key things, using an FBI system to run a check into a person’s history. But in this check, there is no way to screen for mental illness, and the database simply can’t confirm whether a person has had a mental condition in the past. The check is quick and usually goes through unless convicted felons or a major red flag comes up. Those who may have a condition can still pass this check. With the past several mass shooters having known symptoms of a mental illness, we must come to the fact that without a comprehensive background check, some people with unpredictable intentions may use a gun in a destructive way taking the lives of innocent people.
The purpose of this piece is not to offend or to objectify a side on the gun control debate. However I have brought forward the different issues that the gun community faces in America, and how gun violence is an ongoing issue. With an unpredictable political divide in the current American government we can’t be certain what politicians may say or do to pass regulation. But we must understand a few things. One, we as Americans are all protected under the Second Amendment of the US Constitution to bear arms. Two, we must realize that criminals do not follow laws, and that by increasing gun control measures we are going after the law-abiding citizen and not the criminals who do harm in our communities. Three, mental health is an issue in America and we must create a better system to vet people with mental illness to prevent a gun crisis from growing. And finally, by using federal and local authorities a system must be implemented to take down black market operating groups that illegally sell guns in America.
To fact check this article, I have included several links that I used to help me write this opinionated piece. Many of these articles are from major mainstream media and independent groups that discuss the ongoing debate of gun control. Of course this being an Op-Ed I have also used knowledge I have gained in my experience handling firearms, and talking to various people about this heated issue. I have not come to make a political statement but to express my views of what I personally think needs to be changed in America to help protect innocent people in our great nation.