I have not, traditionally, held entirely orthodox liberal opinions on the issue of gun control. For political reasons, for practical reasons, even in part on principle, I never thought a far-reaching gun ban was realistic, or even necessarily desirable, in the United States. (A strictly enforced ban would necessitate massive, nationwide police action, for one thing, and would assuredly also involve disproportionate policing and additional incarceration of people of color.) I continue to believe that, as Democrats attempt to win victories across the entire country, there will be tough trade-offs and brutal internal arguments on gun rights—much more so than on other hot button issues, including even abortion access.
Spree shootings have become an epidemic. Six of the ten deadliest spree shootings in American history have occurred in the last decade. Three of the five deadliest happened in the last two years. Rampage spree shootings might be culturally “contagious.” Or perhaps they are simply becoming deadlier because it is easier than ever for killers to obtain incredibly over-powered weapons. Regardless, we’ve become numb to garish death tolls.
And yet, those mass shootings still represent just a fraction of the tens of thousands killed by guns annually in the United States. The number of yearly firearm homicides is well below historic highs (along with nearly every other form of violent crime) but that rate stopped falling years ago. It has remained steady at an unconscionably high level for nearly two decades. Our rate of gun deaths remains many times greater than the rates of every other wealthy nation.
There are a few positive signs. There is support for more regulation. Much, much more regulation than we currently have in place. And we should fight for it all: Ironclad background checks and gun registries and assault weapon bans and whatever else can mitigate the problem. But it’s clear that the historical era in which America’s many responsible gun-owners could’ve joined with liberal gun rights opponents to beat back the nuts and install sensible regulation is long behind us.
I think it did exist once. In the Midwest of my youth, gun ownership was common and didn’t seem to conflict with progressive values. It was much easier to believe that people genuinely owned rifles because they enjoyed hunting, and not because they fetishized weapons of mass death. And people didn’t walk around in public openly displaying handguns, because that is lunatic behavior in a civilized society. That is the context in which the Brady Bill and the assault weapons ban were achievable.
But we can’t get back there—we’re too far gone. The decades-long intentional derangement of white conservatives and the unchecked profit-seeking of arms manufacturers brought us here, and now “gun culture” is a grotesque death cult.
I’d love a compromise, where no one had (or felt they needed) handguns, and hunters and recreational shooters got to enjoy their registered and safely stored shotguns and old-fashioned repeating rifles. But the “responsible” owners are a dying breed. The future of the gun debate in the United States is a ruthless political fight between an anti-gun majority and a hysterical, well-armed revanchist minority. That minority will have one of our two major political parties, the Supreme Court and much of the judiciary, and a lot of arms industry money on its side.
So what should we fight for, knowing the near-impossibility of full disarmament? We will probably not nationalize or expropriate our arms manufacturers any time soon, though we obviously should. We can at least make it possible to sue them into dust. But if you want a gun ban in the United States, here’s a thought: Even if you accept the (obviously, stupidly, grandly wrong) conservative interpretation of the Second Amendment, there’s still no actual right to sell guns. So why not ban that?
For years, the media has extensively covered mass shootings leading to a large movement towards trying to prevent the terrible deaths of innocent children and adults. While it is good to recognize that we as a country have a problem with violence, the extensive coverage from the left-wing media has led to a multitude of people being misinformed about guns and violence, which leads them to push for measures that don’t have any evidence of working. Furthermore, the magnitude of the problem is often blown out of proportion with skewed statistics and over-coverage.
I am not saying that the deaths by use of firearms are insignificant or mean any less to friends and families who are affected by this kind of tragedy, but there are many other causes of death that kill countless times more people. For example, the top 10 leading causes of death contribute to almost 75% of all deaths in the United States, and firearms are used to kill less than one percent of all deaths excluding suicides, according to the CDC.
The top two causes of death being heart disease and cancer are very serious illnesses, but yet the media seems to ignore the fact that more than 3,300 people die every day from them. Regardless of the huge causes of death that are plaguing our country right now, the media has insisted we start to fix the problem of gun violence, and laws are starting to be proposed and signed into action.
The proposed measures right now such as banning the sale of firearms like in “BAN GUNS.” By Pareene, or even banning certain firearms or accessories are not effective solutions and go against the rights the Constitution provides to all law-abiding citizens. BUT, since we can always make this country a safer and better place to live, there are many things we can do to minimize these horrible deaths while still keeping our rights intact. I have lots of ideas that I believe would help minimize these deaths, but because of time and length restrictions, I want to focus on allowing more trained individuals to carry firearms especially in schools, along with educating the public on this issue.
The overall message I will be giving is we need to allow more access to firearms and education to the average American. Our rights, not just gun rights, being stripped away in this process of making America “safer” is unacceptable. We need to come together to take actions that will be effective at saving innocent lives while also allowing Americans to defend themselves and exercise all their rights.
First, I believe we need to have more on campus police officers in schools. Not only will more police deter a violent crime from happening in the school, it also allows authorities to respond faster in case one does happen. For example, in the Parkland shooting, there was only one officer on campus. This man was outside when the attacker started open firing at students, and he never even entered the building to try and stop him to save lives like it is his job to do, which was covered by many media sources including CNN.
The shooting may have gone differently if more officers would have been on campus with the students not having to depend on one man. Not to mention one who wasn’t close to the attack when it started and was not ready to step up to do his job. Having more officers on campus would make this scenario less likely to happen because if there are more officers, the more likely one of them will do their job and be near the source of the attack. This goes along with why I also believe we need to allow teachers across the nation the option to conceal carry a firearm in schools. I am not saying we should force or even incentivize carrying a firearm because of the responsibility it takes, and many will not want to take on the extra stress.
But since the teachers are with their students or in the building the vast majority of the time, which is much more than officers are, allowing these willingly trained, responsible individuals to also deter and respond to a violent crime in the building, would be beneficial. Overall, we need to introduce more trained firearm holders onto campuses whether that be campus police or teachers to schools to deter crime, and in worst-case scenarios, stop an active shooter quickly to save as many lives as possible.
The next step I think we need to take, is having more firearm education not only in schools but readily available to the public. There are many misconceptions about the process of acquiring a firearm or how they function, and more education would help clear these up. For example, there is a political comedian Steven Crowder who runs a late-night show called Louder with Crowder and posts some of his content on YouTube. He recently gave two college students the opportunity to “learn the basics of firearm safety and shooting, and the process of actually purchasing a gun (StevenCrowder).” They were blown away by how much they learned, such as how stringent background checks are, which you must go through for any purchase in a gun store or gun show, and how many things can disqualify anyone from buying a gun.
Because of this experience, they now have a very different opinion on firearm legislation, and I think many people would change their mind about stricter gun legislation after getting educated. There are also many other statistics that I believe everyone should know. Some of them include: According to the CDC, between 1998 and 2015, 96.2% of public mass shootings occurred in gun free zones. They also cite that in 2008, there were from 500,000 to over 3 million defensive uses of firearms in the United States, and with a huge rise in concealed carry permits according to gunscarry.com so this number could be even higher today.
This leads me to see that gun free zones seem to be targeted by criminals and guns are saving much more lives than they are taking. This is just the conclusion I have drawn from this data, and I encourage you to take your own. We need to start incorporating firearm education into high schools at least. Having a dedicated class where firearm safety is demonstrated, practiced, and statistics and facts are shown would be greatly beneficial to the general knowledge of the public. This could just be a one-day class, or a couple of hours spread throughout a certain time period, but we need to better educate ourselves to minimize misconceptions about firearms because to start to fix this problem, we all need to have this kind of knowledge to actually make a positive impact.
Now I am going to talk about why I have found Pareene’s proposal to be not as effective as many other options if acted upon, and completely unconstitutional. It seems he is calling for us to ban the sale of all guns. By common knowledge, just banning the sale of an item will not make the number of that item in America decrease, so for those who are willing to break the law, there are still options to get one such as theft or manufacturing one.
The accessibility of firearms will certainly go down, but crimes will continue to happen, and this does not guarantee that overall crime will drop by the lack of ability to buy a gun, which is the overall goal of new legislation. Even though the United States is very unique, and it is hard to compare us to any other country, I will try to use Britain as an example to make my point. Ncc-1776.org states that in 1988, all semi-automatic rifles were banned unless you acquire a very hard to get license and register all weapons that were able to be kept. Then in 1996, handguns were also banned requiring the same licensing and registration process. If we compare these dates to the total homicide rate in the country we can see it had little positive, if not completely negative effect. In 1988, the homicide rate was 10.9 per million people according to the Office of National Statistics, raised to 11.4 in 1996 when pistols were banned, and made its way up to 17.3 by 2003.
Though I am not claiming these bans to be the cause of the huge raise in homicide rate, it seems that criminals found other methods to commit the crimes they intended to commit, and incidentally committed more homicide in the country. My point is, criminals obviously were not deterred from committing crimes by new laws, so I do not believe that banning the sale will help our violent problem because much like Britain, criminals here will not stop trying to achieve their goals when a tool such as a firearm is less accessible. What we need to do is help better defend and educate our citizens to deter and stop crime faster.
I very strongly believe that there are much more effective ways of making America a safer place other than restricting our citizens rights. We can put legislation in to make the second amendment work in our favor to defend the things and people we cherish by deterring crime with more citizens owning and carrying firearms. By putting more police officers in our schools and allowing teachers to willingly carry firearms in school, we will start to fortify and defend our children who are the future of this country from criminals with evil intent. Intentions will not be stopped by the lack of access to a certain tool. They will find a way around as we have seen in Britain.
Educating ourselves is also going to be a very important part in enacting solutions that will make a positive difference. The average person, or college student as we have seen in Steven Crowders video don’t actually know a whole lot about firearms and the laws that we already have in place. Getting educated on these laws first, and then seeing what we can do to change, add, or take away, to make America safer is crucial. It is foolish to think we can make changes that we expect to be good if we are not knowledgeable on the topic in the first place. By making these few but impactful changes to start, I truly believe we can start to make America a safer place for everyone to live in, while not taking our rights away.
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