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Academic Essay by Conor Spahr
When I was a freshman in high school, four years ago, I wrote a short argumentative essay about gun control that went over the reasons gun laws needed to change: gun violence and homicides in places like South Chicago, mass shootings, the higher suicide rates among gun owners, and the thousands of incidents simply labeled an accident. And of course, the mass shootings. When I wrote that essay in 2014, the following had not taken place: Charleston, SC (9 dead, 1 injured), Roseburg, OR (9 dead 9 injured), Colorado Springs, CO (3 dead, 9 injured), Kalamazoo, MI (6 dead, 2 injured), San Bernardino, CA (14 dead, 22 injured), Orlando, FA (50 dead, 53 injured). After Orlando in 2016, I updated it with those jarring statistics and sent that essay to my representatives to ask for some initiative on gun control regulations. Today, that letter would be missing the following events: Wilkinsburg, PA (6 dead, 3 injured), Fort Lauderdale, FA (5 dead, 42 injured), Las Vegas, NV (59 dead, 546 injured), Plano, TX (9 dead, 1 injured), Sutherland Springs, TX (26 dead, 20 injured). As stated in Smart Gun Laws Organization by U.S. General Accounting Office, from 2005-2010, nearly 3,800 people in the United States died from unintentional shootings. Over 1,300 victims were under twenty-five years of age. Today, over 7,000 children and adolescents are hospitalized or killed by guns each year in America, according to NY Daily. Mass shootings in the U.S. have always existed, but increasingly numerous amounts victims have not. Mass shootings from the 1700s have normally had around five to six deaths. It makes sense: back then, the American population was only 0.36 percent of what it is today. More recently, specifically starting in the 1990s, there have been an average nine to twelve deaths in mass shootings, with outliers at twenty-three, as stated on Wikipedia's “List of Rampage Killers (Americas)”. And then there are the major shootings from Sandy Hook (twenty-seven) and Virginia Tech (thirty-two). There is a trend of mass shootings increasing victims. The numerous mass shootings in the United States are occurring increasingly often, with more and more casualties. The U.S. should prevent mass shootings by having stricter requirements for owning and possessing a gun, as well as banning nonsensical killing machine parts like full autonomy, high capacity magazines, and bump stocks because it will hinder firearm accident and mass shootings, and keep malicious people from getting a gun.
First off, making the gun owner eligibility requirements more thorough can help hinder firearm accidents. These accidental deaths are often considered inevitable, like a natural disaster that nobody can stop. In 2014, an Arizona gun range instructor was accidentally shot dead by a nine-year-old girl he was showing how to fire an automatic Uzi, reported by NY Daily News. This purchase was stopped, tragically, before the girl’s parents could buy the gun for her. By having tougher guidelines for gun buyers, it could prevent parents with young children from having a gun in the house. At the very least, it could stop irresponsible and untrained parents from having guns. Don’t take my word for it, read the data:
“A statistically significant association exists between gun availability and the rates of
unintentional firearm deaths, homicides, and suicides. In the United States, over 1.69
million kids age 18 and under are living in households with loaded and unlocked
firearms, setting the scene for possible tragedy if firearms are not locked and stored
properly. A study from 1991-2000 showed that twice as many people died from
unintentional firearm injuries in states in the U.S. where firearm owners were more likely
to store their firearms loaded” (Aftermath, 1).
In this matter, there can be no argument that gun control does not matter because criminals will always find a way to get guns. These accidental firearm deaths are not the result of criminals. They are the result of carelessness and ignorance, and those are not good reasons to die.
There are other types of non-malicious firearm deaths besides these accidents, however. In an article by Jessica Rosenberg, she states, “these laws [limiting access to firearms among persons with mental illness] may reasonably be expected to reduce suicide rates.” And it makes sense. Whether a suicide was purposeful or not, it likely would not have happened without a gun. In a survey of thirty-six wealthy nations by the American Journal of Public Health, the United States was the only to have both the highest overall firearm mortality rate and the highest proportion of suicides by firearms. This is no coincidence, as Americans make up half of the world’s civilian gun owners despite making up only four percent of the world’s population. There is almost definite confirmation that access to firearms, whether from household availability or a new purchase, is linked to a significant increased risk of suicide, as stated in “Suicide, Guns, and Public Policy” by E. Michael Lewiecki, MD, and Sara A. Miller, Ph.D. The two also said that “the potential benefit of restricting access to firearms has been evaluated in models that estimate the effect on mortality rates. In the United States, such a model predicted that 8,551 lives might have been saved from suicides avoided each year during the study period 1999 through 2004.” This is just one aspect where gun control can help to save American lives, with no downsides.
Alongside preventing firearm accidents and tragedies, harsher gun qualifications can deter petty crimes and gun homicides. How threatening can robbery be if there is no lethal bullet-firing weapon? The United States cannot make guns go away in all violent cases; however, they can make violence with guns less common. Today, a simple burglar of a home or gas station, even a mugger, is likely to be armed, and those are some of the smallest crimes that exist. Some say that criminals will always find ways to get guns and that tightening regulations will just prevent civilians from having weapons to fight back. Yet, studies show that more than eighty percent of guns used in mass shootings were obtained legally. Cracking down on these malicious gun-buyers will save lives. Look at the statistics from a Mar. 10, 2016 Lancet study:
“Implementing federal universal background checks could reduce firearm deaths by a
projected 56.9 percent; background checks for ammunition purchases could reduce
deaths by a projected 80.7 percent; and gun identification requirements could reduce
deaths by a projected 82.5 percent. When high-capacity magazines were used in mass
shootings, the death rate rose 63 percent and the injury rate rose 156 percent.”
By enforcing rules that make owning a gun harder, it keeps small criminals from getting their hands on a gun. And that would slow the need of guns for home protection. Pretty soon the United States would be developing into a place like the United Kingdom, where police do not even need firearms.
Furthermore, the United States could prevent mass shootings by having stricter qualifications for owning a gun because it will keep nefarious people from obtaining a gun. Outlawing ridiculous military-grade weapons upgrades (like high-capacity magazines and bump stocks) will prevent anyone who does manage to purchase a weapon from turning it into an absolute death device like the firearm used by the Las Vegas, NV shooter, who shot over four hundred concertgoers. Some people argue that these stricter gun control laws will keep normal people who want to have a gun for hunting, sport, or self-defense from getting one. However, if someone really is fine to own a gun, these extra processes would not stop them. And I’d like to see someone argue that they need 1,600 rounds of ammunition, the amount that the Las Vegas shooter had stockpiled. The stricter qualifications could include background checks, calls to family members, and simply having merchants asking things like “What are you using this gun for?” or “Why do you need this gun?” and immediately reporting any suspicious people to authorities. The gun store owner who followed up the Holmes [Colorado movie theater shooter] application described his voice mail message as “bizarre, guttural, freakish at best.” David Safir says, “Perhaps we need to take things up a notch and express concern to authorities about such encounters.” And he’s right, if this had been reported, the Colorado movie theater shooting could have been stopped. This isn’t an isolated case, either. Thousands of gun homicides take place with legally owned guns.
In summary, the United States needs to prevent mass shootings by having stricter qualifications for owning/possessing a gun because it will hinder firearm accidents. It will also keep malicious people from getting a gun. With the frequency and death number in mass shootings raising, as well as the accidental firearm incidents, actions have to be taken. Polls show that nine out of ten Americans support universal background checks on gun purchases and a majority support bans on high-capacity magazines, according to an academic article by Philip Elliott and Sam Frizell. Americans want change, but in a government controlled by super PACs with huge corporate donors like the NRA, who specifically profits from lax gun laws that make purchasing firearms easier, it is not a surprise that our legislature has let so many die. Contacting your representatives in Congress is one of the best ways you can help. Americans are dying from gun-related injuries. “Yes, people pull the trigger - but guns are the instrument of death. Gun control is necessary, and delay means more death and horror.” —Eliot Spitzer.
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