Gun control is a social issue that stirs passionate debate from both who support the idea of restricting the sale of certain guns and those who are against any form of gun control legislation whatsoever. However, it is clear that most of those who are in favor of gun control are reasonable people who believe in the Second Amendment that gives citizens the right to bear arms. All supporters of gun control are looking for is common sensed legislation that limits the amount of bullets in cartridges and creates a federal background screening process that catches criminals or those with a history of mental illness before they can buy a gun. Attempting to find a solution that makes both sides of the debate happy is a great challenge, but nonetheless the status quo or even rolling back gun legislation will continue to have serious consequences in light of all the mass shootings in recent years. This paper will make the argument that by looking at the facts, it is clear that the only way to solve the problem of gun violence is through tougher restrictions.
The United States of America unquestionably has a major problem with violent crime, and guns contribute most significantly to this issue. Indeed, the statistics back this up in a major way. Per capita, the U.S. has the highest rates of gun-related violent crime and homicide in the industrialized world. For example, the United States has the highest rate of gun-related killings among industrialized nations. In fact, the gap is not even close. That report found that citizens of developed countries are 20 times less likely to be killed by a gun compared to someone from the United States. In addition, according to the FBI in 2011 over two-thirds of murders in the U.S. involved a firearm. In other words, out of the 12,600 total murders that took place that year, 8,500 were the result of guns. What this clearly demonstrates is that guns are a highly effective weapon for killing people.
A second argument for gun control is the fact that communities that have more access to guns are actually more likely to be harmed by one. In other words, the idea that people would be safer if everybody had a gun is demonstrably false. To best illustrate this, imagine a room full of people with guns versus a room where there are no guns at all. No reasonable person could make the argument that the room full of guns is the safer one. But aside from this hypothetical scenario, there are facts that back this up. For example, Altheimer found that those who live in cities where the accessibility of guns is high are far more likely to become a victim of a gun-related assault or robbery versus people who live in cities where access to guns is more limited. Thus, it is clear that unless gun control is part of the equation, there can be no solution to the problem of gun violence.
A third major point is that an overwhelming number of Americans are in favor of some form of gun control. In fact, 90 percent of the public are in favor of expanding background checks before the purchasing of a gun. The reason there is so much consensus on this issue is because the public understands the rationale behind background checks and understand that a small inconvenience such as waiting a few days before being able to get the gun is a small price to pay if it makes everybody safe. However, the reason nothing gets done about passing such laws is because the National Rifle Association (NRA) have no interest in seeing gun control legislation of any kind. After all, in the mind of the gun lobby, even the most minor of barriers that prevents an individual from buying a gun means one less gun will be sold. And since these groups have so much influence over elected officials – especially in those who come from deeply conservative districts – these senators and representatives feel immense pressure to vote against any laws that the NRA and other like-minded gun groups oppose since they know they will become targets in primaries and general elections. As a result, even though gun control is popular the American public at large, it is virtually impossible to pass any meaningful legislation to solve the problem of gun violence.
One of the arguments that pro-gun supporters frequently make is that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. This argument is intended to make two points: the first is that a gun cannot be blamed for an individual’s actions. But logic of this is faulty. As a point of comparison, when an individual drives drunk, nobody reasonable person would ever make the claim that alcohol isn’t the cause of drunk driving, but rather it’s the person behind the wheel. The reason nobody would say this is because everybody knows it would be a ridiculous argument. The reason why states and localities regularly enact laws restricting the sale of alcohol in stores and bars after a certain time at night is because it is a one solution to reduce alcohol-related incidents, including drunk driving. This is reasonable and it is hard to imagine anybody opposing it. And yet pro-gun supporters are never willing to give an inch or concede that guns are ever part of any problem. The second point of this argument is the claim that even if there are restrictions on guns, a killer would simply resort to different methods. Although it is true that guns are not the only weapon that can kill, it is certainly the easiest and most efficient way to do so. A stabbing near Houston in 2013 that left 15 students injured – with 4 of them critically – has been used as an example by pro-gun supporters as evidence that when somebody wants to murder, nothing will stop him or her. However, this is an apples-to-oranges argument. The offender, who used a box cutter as the weapon for this crime, never had any intention of using a gun. In fact, he had explicitly stated that since the age of 8 it had always been his fantasy to stab people. Regardless of the fact that he managed to hurt so many people with the box cutter, the fact remains that had he used a gun, the number of victims would have been significantly larger and there would undoubtedly have been deaths. Indeed, Cook found that when perpetrators use guns during an attack, the results are five times more deadly than if the individual had used a gun. It is also worth nothing that automatic weapons are made with the explicit purpose of inflicting as mass casualties. The killers who carried out the massacres at Virginia Tech, at the cinema in Aurora, Colorado and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut recognized the destruction that they would cause by using high capacity-magazines when they planned their actions. Given that none of them were particularly imposing figures, and it seems unlikely that they would have had much success using a knife or baseball bat. The bottom line is that those who contend that it is the killers who are to blame and not the gun that they use are entirely missing the point.
In conclusion, the evidence clearly shows that gun control can be effective and is crucial for solving the problem of gun violence. The facts are that when it comes to gun violence, the United States has the highest rates of homicide; giving communities more access to guns only increases violence; and the American public is in favor of some forms of gun control in huge numbers. Finally, the argument that guns do not kill people; people kill people is simply untrue. What is absolutely certain is that the alternative of doing nothing or handing out more guns is not a solution. Ultimately, there are solutions beyond gun control that both sides of the debate should be able to support in order to reduce the amount of gun violence. The first thing that needs to stop is the finger pointing and hyperbole, and instead discuss the concerns honestly. To be clear, any discussion about the government raiding peoples’ homes to confiscate their guns is nothing more than fear mongering. Nobody is saying that the Second Amendment that provides the right to bear arms must be repealed. When it comes down to it, gun control is not about preventing people from owning guns, it is about making sure that a common sense approach is being taken so that the criminals are not getting the guns and so that high powered, military-grade weapons that contain high capacity magazines – which have the sole purpose of creating as many casualties as possible and not merely for defending a home or hunting – are not in the hands of the public.