Gun Violence Epidemic and the Second Amendment

The right to own a gun is established as the Second Amendment in the United States Constitution. Though this right is guaranteed, our country’s relationship with guns is a tumultuous one. Gun laws vary by each state, for instance California gun laws states that, An application for sale or transfer must be made with a licensed California gun dealer before any firearm may be sold or transferred.

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The purchaser must present the dealer with a valid California Driver’s License or a California identification card and supply their right thumbprint. The dealer sends a copy of the application to the California Department of Justice and the local police chief or sheriff. The CA DOJ will conduct a background check on each buyer. Dealers must keep a register of all firearm transfers (Institute for Legislative Action, 2014). Though these requirements seem like purchasing a gun is complex, in reality one can purchase one with ease. Huffington Post reports that, In 36 states, there are no legal requirements for gun registration, no permit needed and no license necessary to purchase and own a firearm such as a rifle, shotgun, or handgun (2016). This easy access that Americans have to firearms has resulted in an increase of homicides, Violence: The enduring problem by Alex Alvazrez and Ronet Bachman (2017) give statistics on firearm homicides, In 2010, over 12,00 rape victims, over 140,000 robbery victims, and over 184,000 assault victims faced an offender who was armed with a firearm (Alvarez & Bachman, 2017). Gun violence has proven time and time again that it is an ever-growing issue in country, yet we have not taken the necessary steps to improve our situation.

In the last decade, the United States has seen the deadliest mass shootings in history of the country. Washington Post reporter, Christopher Ingraham, explains mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, At least 26,000 children and teenagers younger than 18 were killed by gunfire in the United States between 1999 and 2016 (Ingraham, 2018). Most recently the United States has seen an increase in school shootings. The latest school shooting happened in Parkland, Florida, leaving 17 dead. It was the 30th mass shooting in 45 days of 2018 (CNN, 2018). CNN reports that the deadliest mass shooting in our history occurred in Las Vegas, in October of 2017, where Stephan Paddock fired on concert, killing 58 and injuring 500 (CNN, 2018). The shootings at Pulse night club to Sandy Hook elementary school have reignited the national debate over gun ownership yet little to nothing has been done to find a resolution. Instead of focusing on legislation to enact safer gun laws, the President declared this as a mental health issue, instead of a gun issue. In an article, posted by Katie Rogers, a reporter for the New York Times, details the response the President gave after the shooting in Parkland, Florida. Trump stated that he wanted to help secure our schools, and tackle the difficult issue of mental health (Rogers,2018). While mental illness may play a part for an individual to commit an act of violence, it is reckless to name it the sole reason for these types of attacks. The Atlantic news reporter Olga Khazan, gives some background on the Parkland shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, He seemed fixated on guns and on killing animals, and his mother would sometimes call the police on him in an effort to manage his behavior and was ‘in and out of mental-health treatment’ (Khazan, 2018). Shootings can be prevented; parents and schools should be aware of students that are showing signs of aggression and mental illness. Blaming mental illness on gun violence deters us from seeing the real issue at hand, which is the lack of gun control.

Though our country is among the most advanced in the world, the Unites States has 31st highest rate of gun violence in the world according to Nurith Aizenman, a reporter for WSKG.

The United States had 3.85 deaths due to gun violence per 100,000 people in 2016, which was eight times higher than our Canadian neighbors (Aizenman, 2018). This can only make us wonder what are we doing differently in comparison to other countries. The main difference is how these countries react to mass shootings. For example, The Guardian posted an article written by different journalist in various countries. The article gives an instance of Germany reacted to a school shooting, where an expelled student shot 16 people dead and within a year the country regulated its laws, Germany is the only country in the world where anyone under the age of 25 who applies for their first firearms license must undergo a psychiatric evaluation with a trained counsellor, involving personality and anger management tests (Jowit, Laville, Wahquist, Oltermann, McCurry, & Beckett 2016). In Port Arthur, Australia, a shooting that killed 35 was the worst in the country’s history and they responded quickly to the attack, Australia’s then prime minister, John Howard, announced a sweeping package of gun reforms in a country where guns had long been considered an essential prop in the national mythology of life in the bush (Jowit, Laville, Wahquist, Oltermann, McCurry, & Beckett 2016). Before this change was made, Port Arthur had 13 mass shootings 20 years beforehand, after the reforms there has been no shootings. The United States should look at these countries as a guide to better fix our own. Though the killing of 20 first graders at Sandy Hook school not convince our government to act on these attacks, what will?

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