Gun control is a hot topic in today’s world, especially here in the United States. According to the Small Arms Survey, the United States has 120.5 guns per 100 people, or about 393,347,000 guns, which is the highest total and per capita number in the world. There has been some heated debates in Congress on whether they should pass laws to ban semi-automatic rifles. People are going out to the streets to protest mass shootings and demand the government to take action on this by putting more control on guns. And for like everything there is another side to this topic, which in this case is people who are for gun rights or in other words they are for the 2nd Amendment. The 2nd Amendment, is 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. Both sides have pros and cons to their claims, so we are going to explore them.
People who are for gun control believe that it would reduce gun deaths. “Gun licensing laws were associated with a 14% decrease in firearm homicides, while increases in firearm homicides were seen in places with right-to-carry and stand-your ground-laws.” Another thing they believe in is that high-capacity magazines should be banned because they too often turn murder into mass murder. “A Mother Jones investigation found that high-capacity magazines were used in at least 50% of the 62 mass shootings between 1982 and 2012. When high-capacity magazines were used in mass shootings, the death rate rose 63% and the injury rate rose 156%.”
And like most things there are cons to it. One con is that gun control laws do not deter crime; gun ownership deters crime. According to a study in Applied Economics Letters found that ‘assault weapons bans did not significantly affect murder rates at the state level’ and ‘states with restrictions on the carrying of concealed weapons had higher gun-related murders”. While gun ownership doubled in the twentieth century, the murder rate decreased. Proponents of more gun control laws state that the Second Amendment was intended for militias, however, according to the 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court held that the ‘Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.’ Another con is that gun control won’t prevent criminals from obtaining guns illegally. One prime example is Chicago which has passed gun control policies making it illegal to own handguns and assault weapons as well as making it illegal to buy or sell firearms within city limits but, in 2014 it had 2,089 shooting victims, 390 of which were murders related to criminal activities such as gangs or drug dealing. This tells me that gun control won’t stop the production and manufacturing of weapons and that it won’t stop criminals from committing unlawful things. Also giving the government too much power over the citizens it may result in government tyranny and the government taking away all guns from citizens which is something scary in many people’s mind. 57% of people surveyed by Pew Research in Feb. 2013 said that gun control laws would ‘give too much power to the government over the people.”
The people who are against gun control believe mental health and/or video games are the cause of mass shootings. However this is not at all correct as in a 2018 report on 63 active shooter assailants, the FBI found that 25 percent had been diagnosed with a mental illness. Of those, three had been diagnosed with a psychotic disorder. In a 2015 study that examined 226 men who committed or tried to commit mass killings, 22 percent could be considered mentally ill. So what that tells me is that mental health is not a real cause to mass shootings as well as playing violent video games games is not since a 2004 report conducted by the Secret Service and the Education Department found that 12 percent of perpetrators in more than three dozen school shootings showed an interest in violent video games. Many researches I have read have something in common which is that they are pointing out that other countries have similar rates of mental illness but a small fraction of America’s gun deaths. Similarly, video games are widespread in Asia and Europe, yet their rates of gun deaths are much lower than those in the United States. One amazing quote said by Kimball is that, ‘Mental illness is not the real issue, because mental illness is something that happens across the globe. Mass shootings? Not so much. The sad truth is that in America, it’s easy to get a gun, but it’s very difficult to get mental health care.’ Factors common among individuals who commit mass murder include extreme feelings of anger and revenge, the lack of an accomplice, feelings of social alienation, and planning well in advance of the offense.
Many mass murderers do not plan to survive their own attacks and intend to commit suicide or to be killed by police after committing their assaults. In a detailed case study of five mass murderers who did survive, a number of common traits and historical factors were found. The subjects had all been bullied or isolated during childhood and subsequently became loners who felt despair over their social alienation. They demonstrated paranoid traits such as suspiciousness and grudge holding. Their worldview suggested a paranoid mind-set; they believed others to be generally rejecting and uncaring. As a result, they spent a great deal of time feeling resentful and ruminating on past humil- iations. The ruminations subsequently evolved into fantasies of violent revenge. Most shooters typically experienced tensions in the year before they attack, like financial pressures, fights with classmates or co-workers, and substance abuse.
Going back to the cons is the one that people can get a gun illegally through other people and the way I know is because the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education conducted a study focused on targeted school violence in the United States from 1974 to 2000. This study involved shootings that had occurred prior to the FBI study’s findings suggesting a trend of increased mass shooting incidents from 2000 to 2013. At the same time the Secret Service researchers analyzed 37 incidents of targeted school violence (most of them involving guns) perpetrated by 41 attackers during this time period and some key findings regarding school shooters included the following: 28 of the perpetrators acquired guns used from their own or a relative’s home, often leaked their intent to peers, engaged in behavior prior to the incident that caused others concern for example weapon seeking and disturbing writings and sometimes had often considered or attempted suicide.
What I got from researching gun control is that the factors contributing to mass murder are broad, and therefore analysis of any single incident should be approached using a model that addresses individual biological, social, and psychological factors. In conclusion I believe we could have more gun control but as well fight the issue of mental health.
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