Why America needs gun control

More than 90,000 Americans have died due to gun violence since the Sandy Hook shooting.

Minh-Han Vu

More than 90,000 Americans have died due to gun violence since the Sandy Hook shooting.

Kian Karamdashti, ScotCenter Sports

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More than 90,000 dead.

More than 90,000 Americans have lost their lives at the hands of gun violence since the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in Newton, Connecticut on Dec 14, 2012. The shooting that killed 26 people, including 20 children. The shooting that, when recalled more than three years later, reduced President Barack Obama to tears on national television. The shooting that sent shockwaves throughout the country, sparking a massive call for stricter gun control laws with the main purpose of stopping such a horrendous crime from happening again.

Yet, here we are almost three years later and 90,000 more lives have been lost.

What is the problem? Why can’t we fix such a harrowing and crucial problem in our country?

In order to even think about creating a solution, we first need to establish and comprehend that the United States has a substantial problem on its hands. According to a study done by the Brady campaign, American children die by guns 11 times more often as children in other high-income countries. 11 times. These are not the full-grown adults we are talking about either, but the future of our nation.

The United States has an obsession with guns. There is no denying it either; it’s written in the building blocks of the Constitution.

The Second Amendment declares that all citizens shall hold a right to bear arms. Things were a lot different in 1787 when the Constitution was first established. A crucial factor that won the recent Revolutionary war was actually the possession of firearms by colonial citizens. The patriot troops were not strong enough to equip and organize themselves throughout the East Coast and relied on average, pro-liberation colonists to join the cause with their own weapons. With this fact fresh in the mind of constitutional framers, it was a no-brainer that American citizens should be given the right to bear arms. This country was built on rebellion, and theoretically, future citizens should be given the right to arm and rebel themselves if the government is treating them poorly.

So how can I even think of arguing against the foundation of our country? What if we decide the government is not doing its job and that we need to act?

Well first off, you will not get very far today going up against the government or the army with violence. Technology has grown exponentially in the last two hundred years, as well as the American government’s power. Do you honestly think a bunch of unorganized rebels can outwit the United States army, arguably the most powerful in the world? Second, throughout history, violent protest has simply not worked. Statistical evidence compiled by political scientists Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan shows that “non-violent protest is more likely to attract mass participation and topple governments than its armed twin, especially in the modern era.”

Many people were left upset by Obama’s recent executive action regarding guns, with Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio stating that Obama was going to “take away our guns.” That’s simply not true. Nowhere in Obama’s executive plan was it stated that any guns be confiscated by the United States government. Plus, no law-abiding citizen who passes a background check will be denied access to a firearm.

The plan simply states that all firearm sellers are required to have a license, and are required to conduct a background check before selling any gun. If these standards are not met, fines of up to $250,000 are put in place. The president even said it himself, “This is not a plot to take away everybody’s guns. You pass a background check; you purchase a firearm.”

What exactly is a background check? A background check is the process of looking up and compiling criminal records, commercial records and financial records of an individual or an organization. A reasonable and responsible action to take before selling a fireman to an individual. The following question then is, why are so many people against the stricter enforcement of this process? The answer to that is not relatively clear.

Money and greed are obvious answers to the question. The less restrictions placed on gun sales, the more money gun sellers make, and the stronger the National Rifle Association (NRA), a group of 5 million members, becomes. Executive Vice President of the NRA, Wayne Lapierre, has even switched sides on the issues himself. He stated in 1999 that universal background checks were “reasonable,” a direct contrast to his beliefs today.

Many Americans argue that too many gun laws are already in place, and that background checks are an invasion of privacy while giving too much power to the government. Personally, I am willing to sacrifice this ‘breach” of privacy that will have little to no effect of the general public’s way of life, in order to submit to rules that will stop these weapons from landing in the wrong hands.

Yes, criminals are people who typically commit crimes and disregard the law. How can you expect criminals to get their guns legally? Yes, criminals who really want a gun are most likely going to find a way to get it, whether it’s through a black market or a private seller. But how can you argue against a process that’s only going to make it harder for these criminals to get these weapons? Background checks are not going to magically erase the 90,000 murders that have occurred over the last 3 years, but it will only make it more difficult for these numbers to increase. I can’t really ask for much more.

If you’re still feeling skeptical about the enforcement of stricter gun control, let’s look at other advanced countries for support.

In France, firearms applicants must have no criminal record and pass a background check that considers the reason for the gun purchase and evaluates the criminal, mental, and health records of the applicant. Their ratio is 2.83 firearm-related deaths for every 100,000 citizens.

In Finland, handgun license applicants are only allowed to purchase firearms if they can prove they are active members of regulated shooting clubs. Before they can get a gun, applicants must pass an aptitude test, submit to a police interview, and show they have a proper gun storage unit. Their ratio is 3.23 firearm-related homicides for every 100,000 citizens.

In the United Kingdom, handguns are banned altogether, a more dramatic stance than anything proposed across the pond. Their ratio is .23 firearm-related deaths for every 100,000 citizens.

After 13 mass shootings in 18 years, the Australian government in 1996 implemented a stiff new gun control that banned a broad variety of weapons, integrated a government-funded gun buyback program, and declared that using a gun for self-defense purposes was a crime. The result? A ratio of .93 firearm-related deaths for every 100,000 citizens in 2013.

In comparison to countries with more firearm restrictions, the United States held a ratio of 10.64 firearm-related deaths for every 100,000 citizens in 2013. In 2012, according to statistics released by the FBI, 32.2 criminal firearm homicides occurred for every legally justified homicide. And before you blame this high rate solely on minorities, know that white murder rates in the U.S. are over twice as high as any other country listed above.

More guns are not the answer to the problem this country is facing. Why would we add fuel to the fire? The U.S. can fix its gun problem and the evidence is lying in plain sight all over the world. Mass shootings and high murder rates don’t have to be the norm.

I urge those in Congress to act swiftly in order to enforce stricter gun control. This is bigger than money, politics, or a single amendment. This is about the human lives that are at stake.

 

This editorial reflects the views of the Scot Scoop editorial board.

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