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Gun Violence and Gun Control in America

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America is becoming more violent, year after year; but we have the tools to reverse this trend. Better gun control could be the answer. On December 14, 2012, twenty first-graders, along with six employees, were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Since then, barely any laws have been passed regarding gun control. According to the Gun Violence Archive Group, 2019 had the highest number of mass shootings in the U.S. On the 335th day of 2019, there had been 385 mass shootings. Gun violence is an obvious problem in the United States. Gun control affects the citizens of America, and their right to bear arms. According to a May Quinnipiac poll, sixty percent of Americans are in favor of stricter gun laws. They believe this will result in a safer country. But what about the other forty percent? Their top argument is that gun control conflicts with their Constitutional right to bear arms. Today, there are few gun laws, and most of them vary from state to state. Background checks and a permit are mandatory to buy a gun in California, whereas in Arkansas there are virtually no restrictions. The United States needs tighter regulations on guns to become a safer society; fewer guns in the wrong hands would result in fewer gun deaths and mass shootings.

First of all, guns must be only in the right person’s hands. In 2019, the President of the United States spoke out saying, “mental illness pulls the trigger, not the gun.” However, Donald Trump rolled back a regulation that once made it more difficult for mentally ill people to purchase guns. Past President Barack Obama pushed for this regulation in 2012, after the Sandy Hook shooting. If it would’ve gone into effect, thousands of more people would have been added to the national background check database. According to the Washington Post, “States that require background checks have 35% fewer gun deaths per capita than those that do not” (Gebelhoff Para 41).

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Domestic violence criminals can also obtain guns. Federal law prevents those with a domestic violence misdemeanor from possessing a gun. However, abusers who are not married or who live alone are unaffected by this law, skating through the legal loophole. According to an Associated Press analysis, “Between 2006 and 2014, an average of 760 Americans were killed with guns annually by their spouses, ex-spouses or dating partners” (Hoyer).

Keeping guns in a locked safe or box may also reduce gun deaths, especially regarding minors. A study from the federal government shows that 68% of school shootings are linked to people who had easy access to a gun at home. According to the Washington Post, “In Massachusetts, which has the strictest safe-storage laws in the country, guns are used in just 9 percent of youth suicides, compared with 42 percent nationally” (Gebelhoff Para 19). To prevent more gun deaths, there should be background checks nationally, and laws that make it illegal for domestic violence criminals to obtain guns, regardless of marital status.

According to the BBC, in 2017 there were almost 11,000 deaths in America as a result of manslaughter or murder involving a firearm. Most guns used in violent acts are normal handguns. This fact emphasizes the importance of better background checks and tighter regulations on gun owners. Handguns are easily available, and most gun deaths involve them.

From 1994 through 2004, the federal assault weapon ban was in effect. This “prohibited the manufacture, transfer, or possession of a semiautomatic assault weapon.” According to the New York Times, the ban was associated with a 25% drop in gun massacres and a 40% drop in fatalities. After the ban was lifted, there was a 347% increase in gun fatalities. 234 of the 271 people who were killed after 2014 died from the weapons that were previously banned. This shows that that ban prevented more gun deaths. Semi-automatic guns should be banned entirely in the United States.

The biggest mass shooting in the United States was the Las Vegas massacre in 2017 when 59 people were killed and another 800 people were injured. The shooter used over twenty assault rifles (which were semi/fully automatic). At the Orlando nightclub shooting in 2016, the shooter’s gun was also a semi-automatic rifle. The purpose of semi-automatic weapons is to kill easily. And that is exactly what they are being used for. These rifles are commonly sold all over America. With bans on all semi-automatic rifles, mass shootings would likely subside. It would be possible for the government to take guns back. In the 1990s, Australia spent $500 million to buy back more than 600,000 guns from its citizens. In America, this buy-back would be way more costly due to our population size and how many guns we have. But .our gun-loving culture could still be reversed.

People still maintain that owning guns is a Constitutional right. Senator John Kennedy argues that “We don’t need stricter gun laws. We need to more strictly enforce the laws that exist. And, we need authorities to actually do something when red flags are raised.” I agree with Senator Kennedy, to a certain extent. I believe we need to enforce the laws that exist. However, the Senator is overlooking the fact that some states barely have any laws to enforce.

It is too easy to purchase a weapon in America. According to Kara Fox (CNN), the United States has more public mass shootings compared to any other country in the world. Many argue that guns are used for protection. However, according to a Harvard University analysis of figures, from 2007 to 2011, people defended themselves with a gun in less than one percent (1%) of the crimes. Therefore, guns are not being used for self-defense. The United States needs stricter gun laws.

All things considered, to become a safer nation, we need stricter gun laws. There should be background checks on everyone purchasing a gun so that mentally ill people cannot obtain firearms. The laws affecting domestic violence criminals should also extend to unmarried people. A safe or locked box would result in fewer deaths involving minors. Semi-automatic firearms should be banned from America like they once were. We need to stop sitting around just waiting to hear about the next mass shooting on the news. We need to counterbalance whatever Second Amendment rights exist against a safer country, where every life is prioritized and protected.       

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