April 24, 2018

Restricting Guns is the Only Responsible Solution

David Wingens ’19

According to the Center for Disease Control, 96 people are killed by a gun in the United States daily and according the bureau of alcohol tobacco and firearms, there are about three hundred million guns in America, which is far more than any country in the world. America has more gun violence than any country in the world and more guns than anyone in the world and there is no reason to think these two facts are not highly correlated.
Those who oppose any form of gun control will often ignore facts and empirical evidence and try to blame a variety of other factors for America’s astronomical levels of gun violence, but when the layers of partisan spin and rhetoric are peeled back, it becomes clear the only proven approach to the issue of gun violence is increased gun control. America is in desperate need of new laws to universalize background checks and ban weapons that should only be in the hands of the military and not civilians.
There are many who argue that the issue is not guns but people and more specifically, people with mental illnesses. Those same people will then turn around and argue against the expansion of background checks to keep guns out of the hands of those with mental illnesses.
Background checks need to be comprehensive and they have to apply to all gun sales, no matter who the seller is or where the gun is being sold. Right now, it is far too easy to get around the background check system by buying a gun from a gun owner or at a gunshow.
Background checks are crucial because they may be able to identify someone who is mentally unstable and who may commit homicide or suicide. Suicides make up almost two thirds of gun deaths in America and many of them might be preventable with a simple psychological screening.
Additionally, there needs to be a waiting period before someone can purchase a gun in order to ensure a complete background check. Waiting periods can also serve as crucial time for those who are considering buying a gun in order to harm themselves or others to “cool off” and not get caught up in the emotions of the moment.
Many who oppose gun control will blame gun violence on what they see as the loss of traditional family values and growing violence in media. For instance, President Donald Trump claims that “the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people's thoughts.” The issue with this reasoning is it is not backed by empirical evidence.
Across the globe, kids are playing the same video games and seeing the same movies as Americans and are therefore exposed to the same amount of violence from the same age. No other country, however, has such preventable issues with guns quite like America does.
The correct way to deal with gun violence is not to restrict First Amendment rights to free speech and expression in popular media. The correct way to deal with gun violence is to apply some sensible restrictions on the Second Amendment.
America has already had an assault weapons ban; it was in place between 1994 and 2004. It was far from perfect and had numerous loopholes, but it seemed at the time to be a clear display that progress is possible.
Assault weapons have limited practical purpose outside of the realm of homicide. They are not used for hunting and they are most certainly too powerful to be considered necessary for self defense when a handgun is perfectly capable of serving that role.
Assault weapons are weapons of war. They are meant to be used on the battlefield, not school hallways.
Sadly, a large contingent of people in America will not even begin to discuss limiting these weapons. They will often argue restrictions on guns are nothing less than a blatant infringement on their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
These claims are not without merit, as the Second Amendment to the Constitution does clearly state, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
So perhaps, the best solution to this problem is a radical one: repealing the Second Amendment.
This seems drastic, but it would only put us in the same situation as a large majority of the rest of the nations of the world, where gun ownership is a privilege, not a right.
Seeing as this is highly unlikely to happen because it would require a constitutional amendment and broad consensus across the nation, our government needs to at least restrict the Second Amendment with strong laws to outlaw weapons of war and to make sure that guns do not fall into the wrong hands.

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