The Jetstream Journal

Filed under Op-Ed, Opinion

Let’s Talk About Gun Control

Taken+under+the+Creative+Commons+License+via+Wikimedia+Commons
Taken under the Creative Commons License via Wikimedia Commons

Taken under the Creative Commons License via Wikimedia Commons

Augustas Didžgalvis

Augustas Didžgalvis

Taken under the Creative Commons License via Wikimedia Commons

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In light of recent events, there has been a rise in the number of people who are pushing for gun control and tightening gun regulations. However, no gun law or tighter restriction on gun ownership will ever solve the violence that is plaguing this country.

While gun control does seem like a sensible and logical idea on paper, it just does not have the capacity or the ability to end gun violence in America. While it would seem that fewer guns on the streets would mean fewer guns in the hands of criminals and therefore less crime, there is absolutely no connection between increased gun ownership and increased crime rates. It is, in fact, the exact opposite. Over the past 20-30 years, gun sales have exploded, yet homicides involving firearms are down 39% during the same timeframe. The United States is #1 in the world for gun ownership; however, it is only 28th in the world for gun murders, and some sources rate it as 31st in the world for violence. Many studies, including this one, have actually concluded that banning and placing heavier restrictions on guns has led to more violent crimes, including those involving guns. After a federal ban on assault weapons was put into place in 1994, the US witnessed a 19.3% rise in murder rates involving firearms.

On a state basis, all of this is the same. In 2016, the FBI Table 12 reported that California had the most murders in the United States, with a total of 1,930. Despite having the strictest gun laws in the nation, firearms were involved in 70.9% (1,368) of these murders.  Texas, a state of similar size and fewer gun laws than California, saw half the amount of gun deaths in the state during 2016. Pennsylvania, Illinois, and New York also have very high murder rates with firearms despite having stricter gun laws. Washington D.C is also another great example of how gun laws do not work. In 1976, the District passed a law that required all guns to be locked up or disassembled and at home. Crime skyrocketed and the District soon had the highest number of violent crimes in the entire US. In 2007, federal courts struck down the gun law, which was also affirmed by the Supreme Court. Since the courts struck down the law, violent crimes in D.C has steadily decreased.

All of these statistics are the way they are because gun ownership is the biggest and most effective deterrent to crime. This is why many criminals tend to rob homes and businesses when nobody is home or at work, simply because they do not want to risk being shot or held at gunpoint. The FBI found that anywhere between 300,000 and 2 million crimes in 2016 were prevented because of a gun owner or gun ownership (do note that this statistic is not about gun owners who fired their gun, just those presented it or threatened to use it against criminals).

Gun ownership is also crucial as the government and the police are not very effective at preventing these acts of crime and murder. The FBI decided to study 160 cases involving active shooter situations between 2000 and 2013. In 67% of these cases, the FBI found that the active shooter situation ended before the police could even arrive to engage the perpetrator. In the recent Florida shooting, the perpetrator, Nikolas Cruz, made at least 3 accounts that he was going to shoot up his school prior to the shooting, all of which were picked up by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, and nothing was done about the Cruz until it was too late. The failure of the government to prevent such shooting is not limited to the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. The National Institute of Justice found that the government is taking the wrong path when trying to control gun violence and that “more than 20 years of intervention programs, however, have shown that a single approach is not likely to work.”

If the government cannot do its job and protect the people of this country, then it should not be trying to take away the means of self-protection people use for themselves.

Many people who advocate for gun control try to look at other countries around the world and apply their gun laws to the United States. Many look to Europe and how most European countries have very strict gun laws and tend to have low gun violence. While this is not only a false statement, as seen by the violence rates in Europe compared to the US, the United States is a much different place than Europe. If Europe’s gun laws even worked, they would not be able to solve any gun problem in the United States. The United States is a very, very large country with a population of 323.1 million people while Europe is composed of 50 different countries and has a population of 743.1 million people. The economic and cultural aspects are also completely different. While they are both Western worlds, the United States and Europe are completely different in how they operate and what their populations are like.

Despite these differences, many European countries that have higher gun ownership rates, including Switzerland, tend to have lower homicide rates than the rates of countries with more restrictive gun laws, like Germany. Even in a place with more gun laws, Europe sees more violence due to guns than America does. According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, there were “55 percent more casualties per capita from mass public shootings in the European Union than in the United States.”

Many also try to reference the Austrailian Gun Buy Back Program. It has been reported by the Australian government that the private gun ownership rates in the country are higher than they were before the buyback program. While there was a steady decline in homicide rates after this buyback program, the success can only be credited to the laws that required firearms training and safety education for private gun owners that were released at around the same time.

With these facts, it can be said that European style gun laws, or any form of gun control for that matter, will not solve the homicide problem, mass shootings, or any form of gun violence in America. In fact, all of this violence is not a gun control issue, it is a mental health issue.

In the United States, cultural norms and pressures have led to this country having one of the worst cases of mental health issues throughout the world. Using sources from the World Health Organization Study,  the United States has the third highest cases of unipolar depressive orders, just behind India and China. The WHO also reports that these three countries experience the highest cases of bipolar disorders, anxiety, and schizophrenia.

When media outlets and many people talk about gun deaths, they often are unaware or neglect the fact that most of these are suicides. The CDC  and the FBI have both released studies that show that over two-thirds of all gun deaths in America are suicides. In fact, homicides in the US have decreased since 2000, according to the University of Sydney. The only reason the media and other sources report about increasing gun deaths and violence in America is that suicides with guns (and in general) have been on a consistent and steady rise. This is an increasing mental illness problem as around 90% of all suicides in the US are attributed to mental illness.

One way that can reduce gun violence with suicides is to increase the waiting period in which you can obtain a gun, which would deter many impulse decisions that many people with suicidal tendencies have. A stricter background check and overall gun education will also help with this violence problem with those who are mentally insane. Many neo-conservative states have lower gun deaths per capita due to children being more exposed to firearms at a younger age, which makes then see guns as tools instead of weapons. Overall, gun safety and education courses are some of the best ways to solve these problems. Without an educated populace, guns will be used for harm and violence as they are today.

 

 

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Let’s Talk About Gun Control”

  1. Cyndy Morgan on March 1st, 2018 2:16 pm

    Excellent research and some very nice, reasoned suggestions!

    [Reply]

  2. Dave Meisinger on March 5th, 2018 7:10 am

    Well written…well researched…well done, Jake!

    [Reply]

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