Perhaps one of the biggest political debate issues of our time is that on the topic of gun control. Even though the principle of bearing arms has been ruled a Natural right in the second amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, the fight still goes on as many people still do not agree with this right we were bestowed by our founding fathers. Stricter gun control laws can help us today by, reducing the risk of gun related incidences, making it harder get your hands on a firearm, and overall saving more lives.
To start off, the legal age set for a person to purchase a firearm in most States is the astoundingly low age of eighteen years old. Studies show that the brain does not fully mature until the mid-to-late 20s. Last to mature is the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for making intelligent, long-term decisions; for weighing risks and benefits; and for controlling impulses (Raise 9). While the prefrontal cortex isn’t fully developed yet, the limbic system takes over, the limbic system runs off of emotional decisions (Raise 10).
As you can see from this study, while somebody who’s eighteen years old is considered an adult by society, the most important part of their brain is still completely underdeveloped. This underdevelopment can lead to emotionally irrational decisions. A simple fix for this illogical plight is to raise the legal age of owning a firearm. A rational age would be somewhere around the age of twenty-five or older, at this age the brain is fully developed and has matured, causing the person to make more appropriate decisions.
Also, promoting a stronger set of gun control laws will make it significantly harder for the average person to get their hands on a firearm. Stunning statistics state that the United States of America has 88.8 guns per 100 people, or about 270,000,000 guns, which is the highest total and per capita number in the world. 22% of Americans own one or more guns(35% of men and 12% of women) (Procon 1).
In addition to the many people in the U.S. that own guns, in its current state the system for applying for a firearm license is completely in broken. It’s limited by its vague policies, non-mandatory reporting standards, and low cooperation of individual states with the national background check registry (Kangas 1). The idea of this is absolutely absurd.
Further, Stricter gun control laws could prevent many accidents related to the use of firearms. Mental disabilities are a huge contributing factor in many gun related violence incidents. Whether it be PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), depression, alcohol abuse, substance abuse, or any other mental illness, they can all affect the way you think and handle situations. For instance, Navy veteran Chris Kyle helped out other former veterans dealing with PTSD and other disabilities. Kyle would devote his time to bonding with the veterans at a care center and occasionally take them to the shooting range.
Chris Kyle was shot and killed by a veteran suffering from PTSD (Lines 2). The killer was not in control of his actions when hit with the wave of PTSD. Should we really be allowing this to be a risk to us? This is just one heartbreaking instance where a mental illness can completely take over someone’s mind and cause them to do things they would never do if they were sane. Further, mental illness paired with the unbelievably low legal age of eighteen to own a gun can be a diabolical combination. For decades people remembered and mourned over the tragic columbine massacre, today mass shootings seem to be the norm. Today, statistics show that there’s actually nearly one mass shooting a day since December 14th 2012. One particular shooting I’d like to touch on is a recent tragedy, the Parkland shooting.
The Parkland shooting occurred on February 14th 2018, after this tragic day a shocking seventeen students and teachers were killed (Willis 1). The shooter, Nicholas Cruz, was only 19 years old. Cruz legally owned the automatic firearm that ensued chaos on the students at Stoneman Douglas High school. Cruz was suffering from mental disabilities and was under the age of full mental development. Even with these two huge factors, he was still approved to legally own a gun.
Cruz didn’t own just any gun though, he owned an automatic firearm. If our gun control laws had more restrictions, we could have saved the lives of seventeen helpless students and teachers. Now, in the light of this tragic event, a Florida bill was passed to raise the legal firearm owning age from eighteen years of age to twenty one. Although this is a step in the right direction, it’s not enough.
Furthermore, another issue affected by the topic is the problem we deal with today about Law Enforcement unarmed shootings. Statistics show that 40% of the victims of Police related shootings yearly are unarmed citizens (Maskaly 1). This truly is an unbelievable statistic. Police related shootings happen all throughout our country on an almost daily basis, to think that an astounding 40% of these shootings are unjustified and pretty much criminal, churns my stomach. A common thought on this topic starts and lies in the roots of gun control. The thought stems from the issue that it’s so simple to pass a background check and the other various checks required before being able to legally own a firearm. Police these days have no idea who has a gun and who doesn’t, they always have to be on high alert.
Would it scare you if it was your job to confront suspicious people on a daily basis not knowing if that person has a weapon of murder on them that could take your life in an instant? Police Officers always have to be on high alert when dealing with people like this, and the fact that almost anyone they see can have a firearm on them doesn’t help their mental state when dealing with situations such as these. Complications from this issue can lead to the mass amount of unarmed shootings we see today.
Additionally, Using a gun for self defense is not morally correct. To appeal to the religious side of things we’re going to look at the bible account of the Ten Commandments:
(I) I am the Lord thy God; thou shalt have no other gods before me. (II) Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. (III) Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. (IV) Honor thy father and thy mother. (V) Thou shalt not kill. (VI) Thou shalt not commit adultery. (VII) Thou shalt not steal. (VIII) Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. (IX) Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house. (X) Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s(Commandments 1).
We’ll focus on commandment number five. Commandment number five states that Thou shalt not kill, in other words; do not be guilty of or commit such a crime as murder. Although the United States of America has its own legal system with its own way of determining if a crime was in self defense or not, any form of committing an act of killing someone is in fact considered murder. Is it worth taking someone’s life in exchange for losing a few of your possessions? Murder is morally incorrect and downright wrong.
Adding on, yet another reason gun control should be made stronger is because people aren’t just buying firearms such as pistols and small arms, many people are purchasing Automatic Assault Rifles (AR). Assault Rifles are by no means necessary to own by ordinary
everyday citizens. Assault Rifles typically have 30-60 rounds per magazine (depending on the magazine) and are most often used by the military by trained soldiers to fight in wars. The excuse many come up with is that they use them for hunting. With access to weapons of war such as an AR it’s no wonder we have these kinds of incidents today.
On the contrary, there can be some potential downsides to increasing the amount of gun control exercised by the government. A big stumbling block is that it can threaten an individual’s constitutional rights. Way back in 1787 our founding fathers gave us these rights with the intent that they were natural and couldn’t be taken away from us. If we now decide to amend these rights who’s to say we won’t start taking away other natural rights given to us? When the government, or criminals, or a foreign power chooses to take that which does not belong to them, then the common man should have means to defend himself.(Mears 3). It’s a citizen’s right to stand up for and defend both himself and his neighbor. Therefore, the government need not to go as far as banning guns all together, but adding more restrictions to gun ownership.
Adding on, perhaps the biggest use for guns today is for personal defense.About 8.8 percent of adults carried guns in the preceding year 3.7 percent carried guns on their person, and 6.5 percent carried guns in a vehicle. Within a given year about 16.8 million U.S. adults carry a gun, 7.1 million who carry do so on the person and 12.4 million do so in a vehicle. On an average day, 2.7 million U.S. adults carry a gun for protection on their person and 5.0 million carry one in a vehicle(Kleck 1).
As you can very well see there’s a good amount of people who use firearms for self defense, and keep in mind that those are just the legally registered individuals. As far as actually using guns for self defense, they’re rarely needed to be fired. Usually an intruder will be scared off at the sheer sight of such a weapon, but for the cases that don’t exactly go as planned it results in a high level of injury and can even result in the death of the victim. With such power, a firearm could protect your own life, family’s life, and your belongings.
All in all, Gun control is a topic of great controversy, especially in light of recent tragic events. Gun control laws should be strengthened greatly to stop all of this madness going on in the country. If we enable stricter gun control laws it can help us by making it harder get your hands on a firearm, reducing the risk of gun related incidences, and overall saving more lives in total. America as a whole needs to decide if they want to keep being selfish, or if they want to save the lives of their fellow Americans.
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