gun control

in light of yet another mass murder at the hands of a mentally unstable legal gun owner:

 

Almost daily in our country, we hear of murders, assaults, and accidental deaths by firearm.  The gun violence in our country is not limited to inner-city residents and criminals as many believe, but it touches all races, classes, and communities.  Although the Second Amendment has been interpreted to allow private gun ownership, there must be an increase in gun control legislation in the US before we can hope to reduce the number of lives lost by gun violence each year.

 

In the US, firearms, specifically handguns, are the leading cause of homicide, and a terrifying number of crime victims face offenders armed with a gun (Alvarez & Bachman, 2014).  Research has overwhelmingly shown that increased gun availability results in elevated violence, and with 35% to 50% of the world’s privately-owned guns, the US has more frequent lethal violence than many other countries (Alvarez & Bachman, 2014).  Many will argue that privately-owned firearms are essential for self-protection, however research has shown that only .1% to 1% of guns are used in self-defense situations annually (Alvarez & Bachman, 2014).

 

When debating the issue of gun control, a popular argument is that since many guns used by criminals are illegally purchased, increasing gun control legislation would not effectively decrease violent crime.  Superficially, this may seem a valid argument, however stolen guns are used in only 10% to 15% of crimes (Noyes, 1997), and more than 75% of the firearms used in mass shootings over the last thirty years have been legally purchased (Cuadra, Johnson, Lindeman, Mellnik, & Elliott, 2014; Follman, Aronsen, & Pan, 2014).   Semiautomatic weapons now comprise 80% of handguns in the US, and with ammunition becoming increasingly more lethal, offenders are able to cause a great deal more injury and death (Alvarez & Bachman, 2014).

 

Although I do not believe there will ever be a foolproof method of eliminating private gun ownership, I believe legislation should be enacted to greatly reduce the number of persons who are able to purchase firearms.  In the majority of mass shootings, as well as many other incidences of individual gun violence, there is a documented history of mental health problems and intent to cause harm prior to purchasing their firearms (Follman, Aronsen, & Pan, 2014); however these offenders were able to legally purchase weapons and ammunition.  In order to curtail the staggering levels of gun violence in our country, there must be an increase in the legal protocols that permit gun ownership.  Mental health screenings, longer wait times, training, registration, and insurance should be required for all firearm purchases.  If we require permit and license testing, training, insurance payments, registration, and restrictions for individuals who operate motor vehicles in the US, the process of owning a firearm should be no less strict.

 

References

Alvarez, A., & Bachman, R. (2014). Violence: The enduring problem (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Cuadra, A., Johnson, R., Lindeman, T., Mellnik, T., & Elliott, K. (2014, May 31).Weapons and mass shootings – The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/national/weapons-and-mass-shootings/

Follman, M., Aronsen, G., & Pan, D. (2014, May 24). A guide to mass shootings in America | Mother Jones. Retrieved from http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map

Noyes, D. (1997). Frontline: Hot guns: “How criminals get guns” | PBS. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/guns/procon/guns.html

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