Yes, Gun Control Laws Work and Yes, America Needs More

Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, The Pulse Nightclub, the Sutherland Springs church, and Las Vegas. Despite these and countless other mass shootings, the American government still haven’t realized that the current gun laws, or lack thereof, aren’t working.

Since the beginning of 2017, there have been roughly 270 mass murders in the US, which is defined as the killing of four or more people using a gun. Statistically, there has been one shooting a day, more than any other developed country in the world. This, as well as many other facts, studies, and statistics all prove the same thing: America has a gun problem.

One argument conservatives and the NRA constantly refer back to is the protection of the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution. The second amendment, states “a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This protects the right to keep and carry weapons; but, in 1791, the only guns that existed were single shot muskets. These were very hard to reload and aim and very different from the semi automatic weapons that are legal to purchase in many US states today.

Also, while constitutional rights are important, it must be remembered that they were written in a very different time than today. The culture of the US in 1791 is very different than today. It was at the same convention that the Second Amendment stated that African slaves were deemed three fifths of a person which shows that not all the amendments created are good for today’s America.

The word “amendment” itself means “change.” Amendments have been changed and repealed in the past, including the 18th amendment which prohibited alcohol. This goes to show that if an amendment is deemed not good for the American people, it can be repealed.

Nevada has some of the most permissive gun laws in the country and has consistently avoided tightening them. This is why it was so easy for Steven Paddock, a shooter, who amassed over 40 weapons legally, to kill over 50 people in Las Vegas. Although regulated guns can be deemed as a safe weapon due to their inability to reload themselves, tools including the “bump stock” exist which  can take a semi automatic rifle and make it fire faster. This makes it much like a machine gun therefore making it a dangerous asset to the wrong people.

In fact, every weapon and tool used by Paddock on October 1 in Las Vegas was purchased legally, much like the weapons used by the Sandy Hook shooter, the Columbine shooters, and the Pulse Nightclub shooter. The fact that weapons which  have the ability to cause such death, destruction, and pain in mere seconds are fully legal to purchase easily and rashly in many states is simply ludicrous.

Even more recently, on November 5, a mass shooter in Sutherland Springs, Texas, another state with very lax gun laws, killed over 20 people, including children. Devin Patrick Kelley, the gunman,  escaped from a mental hospital in 2012 and was accused of abusing his ex wife and child. He was also dishonorably discharged from the military and was seen as a danger to himself and others by his commanding officers.

Kelley’s rifle was also bought legally, even though it shouldn’t have been. The Air Force made a fatal error and did not impute his domestic violence court-martial into a federal database. If this information was in the right place he would’ve been barred from purchasing the rifle he used to kill.

This situation does not mean people with mental illnesses are in any way dangerous, but people in such a condition like Kelley’s should not be able to purchase a weapon. If one is in that state of mind they are more likely to harm himself or others, and should not have access to dangerous weapons.  

This fatal oversight shows just how disorganized and messy the gun control laws in the US are. This must be fixed. The only way to prevent these kind of massacres is to organize and all around strengthen gun control laws on a federal level.

One name people constantly hear when talking about gun laws in the United States is the National Rifle Association. The NRA, an extremely wealthy lobby group  which started as a small association for sport hunters, has now become debatably the most important antagonists of gun control legislation. They produce advertisements that belittle pro-gun control activists, fund politicians who agree with their beliefs and will promulgate their ideas (which is essentially legal bribery), and are the leading voice in the fight against gun regulations.

The National Rifle Association,consistently attacks anyone or anything that tries to increase gun control laws on the principle of said “freedom” that will be taken away if gun control laws are tighter. However, what its supporters either don’t understand or just choose to ignore is that semi automatic and automatic weapons aren’t needed in American society today and that forfeiting a little bit of unnecessary freedom will save tens of thousands of lives every year.

An example of how the NRA has used its political power to try to censor information was when in 1993, a study by the Center for Disease Control showed the health risks of owning a gun. In response the NRA funded the Dickey Amendment and bribed Congressmen to approve it. The Amendment erased the funding of the CDC for gun-related studies, which essentially keeps Americans ignorant of the health hazards of their weapons. This act of censorship  greatly hindered pro gun control efforts in the US government.

The main drive behind the NRA’s zeal for a lack of gun laws is money. They receive most of their “donations” every year from gun manufacturers, including Crimson Trace, Taurus, and Sturm Ruger, give the NRA a percentage of their profits. This generates a large amount of revenue for the association, and the implementation of gun regulation would severely lower their profits by limiting the amount of people who buy guns. It would also limit their influence in congress by limiting its supply of money it could use to bribe congressmen.

Australia is the champion of gun control and is proof that regulation works. In 1996, thirty five Australians died in the Port Arthur shooting. Just 12 days, later the government banned all automatic and semi automatic weapons and implemented a buy-back program from the government to incentivize people to voluntarily give up their guns. Failure to do so would result in jail time.

Twenty-one years later, Australia has not had a single mass shooting, a stark contrast to the 18 years before Port Arthur, when there were 13 mass shootings. Overall, gun-related deaths in Australia has gone down by 50%. This, along with other countries like the UK and Japan, shows that tight gun laws really do work on a nationwide level.

In the face of this argument Many say “well, America isn’t Australia.” And while that’s true, Australia is a prime example of the positive effect gun control can have on a country. And it isn’t the only one. America is the only developed country without gun control.

Those opposed to regulations also argue that the “stringent” gun control rules of Chicago have not affected their morbidly high homicide rate. However, what these people fail to consider is that the city’s gun laws have actually become more lax over the last eight years, a trend consistent with their increasing rate of gun violence.

“Federal courts struck down its ban on handgun ownership in 2010, and its ban on gun sales in 2014,” according to the New York Times.

A New York Times study also showed that many of the guns owned by residents of Chicago were purchased in neighboring states  less strict gun laws, like Indiana, proof that national gun regulation is imperative to truly providing effective results to this problem.

We are not ignorant. A gun death-free America is long in the future. There are always going to be people like Steven Paddock; the difference gun control can make is two deaths instead of fifty. By making semi automatic and automatic weapons illegal to own in the United States, we can dramatically reduce the frequency and severity of these tragedies.

The rights of the American people to feel safe in their country must be prioritized over the right that some feel they have to possess a semi automatic weapon. We need to alleviate the fear of many that they will be a victim of gun violence at a concert, work, the beach, school, or anywhere else. Incidents, such as the Las Vegas shooting make millions of Americans feel like prisoners in their own country, despite the fact that they supposedly live in the “land of the free.”