By: Wessede Barrett
It’s in the news everyday, people are dying or getting injured due to use of firearms. The importance of gun control has become a serious topic all across the nation country since many advocates realized how easy access to guns are putting the public’s safety at risk. Democrats are strong proponents for stricter gun laws to make private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks. However, when organizations like the National Rifle Association (NRA) and politicians continue to block tougher gun legislation, the chances of guns getting into the wrong hands increases. Passing laws aimed at increasing background checks are crucial, and prohibiting individuals with mental issues and criminal histories from obtaining firearms will play a huge role for public safety.
There have been mass killings in the U.S with school shootings and civilian homicides as a result of liberal firearms regulation. The Sandy Hook Elementary and Aurora Theatre shootings are prime examples for the need for stricter gun control laws. The mass shootings have caused shock and grief all over the U.S, as the importance for better gun regulations emerge over public outrage. “The way to honor these dead children is to demand strict gun control, free mental health care, and an end to violence as public policy,” said Michael Moore, an advocate for gun control (and also a lifetime member of the NRA) in his effort to emphasize how gun control can help prevent school shooting like Sandy Hook from occurring. In short, a dominant narrative in the gun control debate states that stricter regulation and increased gun control will lead to increased public safety.
One problem with this case study is that there hasn’t been an experiment in the U.S that proves stricter gun control increases public safety. The 2nd Amendment protects Americans right to bear arms, thus they are entitled to gun ownership without infringement. Nonetheless, countries like the United Kingdom has enacted tighter gun control laws due to mass shootings. CNN.com reports, “In the wake of the 1987 Hungerford massacre, in which one lone gunman killed 16 people, Britain introduced new legislation, the Firearms Amendment Act 1988 — making registration mandatory for owning shotguns and banning semi-automatic and pump-action weapons.” Since 2004 the number of gun related crimes has fallen each year. In 2010/11 there were 11,227 offenses, 53% below the peak number of 24,000. The U.K enacting gun control laws have proven how effective it increases public safety. The U.S can have effective results like the UK, but the gun culture that is present prevents progress from being made.
Firearms can be easily obtained, and the rate at which innocent people are being injured and killed is frightening. The government should be able to enact plans for gun control to prevent tragedies like these from happening. Currently, the estimated total number of guns both legal and illegal number of guns held by civilians in the United States are between 270,000,000 to 310,000,000 which ranks number 1 in the world. According to statistics there are 94.3 guns for every 100 U.S Citizen. The fact that the U.S have more guns than any other nation illustrates how unsafe our communities are. This statistic is alarming because there are so many guns available to people which depicts how easy it is to get guns. If there are so many weapons available to civilians, then there should be no surprise when it results in killings and murders. Many advocates in the gun control debate believe that the government gives people the power access guns, but when mass killings occur using firearms, no one takes responsibility. Gunpolicy.org states, “In the United States, the law does not require that a record of the acquisition, possession and transfer of each privately held firearm be retained in an official register”. This means that anyone can get guns without even registering for it, and the public’s well being is put in the hands of individuals with unregistered firearms. The daily deaths of firearms account for over 32,000 deaths annually but with stricter laws on guns, the public’s safety can be increased.
Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary school there have been more than 100 school shootings. Evidently, guns are not increasing the public’s safety if there are more killings due to easily accessed guns. With so many guns available, there has been an increase in the death of innocent children. The future generation lives were ended short because anyone can purchase or acquire guns without proper registration. Parents don’t deserve to find out that their children lost their lives because there aren’t stricter regulations on guns. This is why those who support gun control believe that there should be more detailed background checks and proper registration for anyone who wants to obtain guns. According to Ontheissue.org, although Democrats aim to strengthen gun control to increase public safety, they do not want to eliminate gun use. They believe that individuals have the right to bear arms, but focus on effective enforcement for stricter gun laws. Moreover, The Brady Handgun Prevention Act (The Brady Act) enacted in 1993, Requires that background checks be conducted on individuals before a firearm may be purchased from a federally licensed dealer, manufacturer or importer.” Due to an attempted assassination on Republican President Ronald Reagan and his press secretary Jim Brady in 1981, Democrats like Bill Clinton became more involved in pushing for stricter gun control laws. What’s interesting about this is that Democrats are more involved with gun control reforms than most Republicans like Reagan who are opposers. Since 1994, the Brady Law has helped to prevent a total of more than 536,000 felons, fugitives, domestic abusers, and other prohibited purchasers from buying guns. Furthermore, background checks have prevented more than 179,000 illegal gun sales, which motivates gun control advocates to keep pushing for stricter gun regulations
Democratic Governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe, and best friend to Bill Clinton pushes for new regulation on guns. McAuliffe, also known as a businessman and an entrepreneur argues, “prohibiting anyone subject to a protective order or convicted of certain misdemeanor offenses from owning a gun. Those include brandishing a firearm, domestic assault, and stalking.” Since former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, a gun control advocate, was a major donor to McAuliffe’s 2013 gubernatorial campaign. Conservatives say the Governor is catering to the anti-gun agenda, but McAuliffe says that he is just trying to keep people safe. Perhaps McAuliffe is telling the truth, however, being pals with politicians who fought for gun control had an impact on him. For the most part, MacAuliffe seems to be legit about his advocacy for gun control. Although he is clearly influenced by his friends, he vows to stick to his control measures. McAuliffe is backed by many of his politician friends and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring supports his gun control measures.
The Violence Policy Center (VPC) is founded in 1988 by Josh Sugarmann, a native of Newtown, Connecticut. The VPC is primarily known for its in-depth research on the firearms industry, and the causes and impacts of gun violence. VPC argues that “the answer to reducing gun violence lies in applying the decades-long lessons of consumer product safety regulation and injury prevention to the gun industry and its products.” The VPC is an idealistic and positive organization because they are dedicated to increasing public safety. Congress and numerous gun violence prevention organizations have used the VPC’s research and statistics pertaining to gun-related policy issues.
Although many advocates for gun control are working hard for stricter and more far reaching restrictions for gun ownership, the likelihood that these kinds of gun laws being adopted is very low. A majority 52% of Americans say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns, than the 46% who say it is more important to control gun ownership. With so many more people aiming to protect gun rights than increase controls, the U.S has a long way to go towards enacting stricter gun laws.