Within twenty-four hours there have been two major mass shootings; one in Dayton, Ohio and the other in El Paso, Texas. “In this country, we have a gun violence epidemic, but we also have a hate epidemic,” said by Texas Representative Veronica Escobar in response to these incidents (Robinson). In some regards she is correct- the problem doesn’t solely lie with mental health, but also access. This is only many in the two-hundred, and fifty-one mass shootings since the 2019 year has started, and two-thousand, one-hundred, and sixty-two since Sandy Hook according to Vox (Lopez). With a lot of controversy, the United States Constitutions’ second Amendment has been a topic of heated discussions. Some believe putting limits on such ‘Freedoms’ will take a fundamental value from the American spirit. But, when does this ‘American value’ take from the safety of the masses? Shouldn’t a change to gun policies and regulations limit access to minors and mentally ill, to reduce these massacres and gun violence.
One of the many arguments against gun control, are the proposed age regulations to the age of twenty-one, yet second Amendment activists, like the Federalist, claim, “if an eighteen year old is not responsible enough to purchase guns, than they’re not responsible enough to vote, join the military, or drive a car” (Cleckner). To say the least, this article has little credible evidence to support those claims, but in addition this line of thinking if applied to alcohol, cigarettes, or marijuana- any age regulation would cease to make logical sense. The fact remains, access creates abundance, including access to guns.
Aside from this, another claim Cleckner, the Federalist, make is that criminals don’t abide by laws, and although this may be true, it is not the point. Criminals are not the cause of mass shootings. Taking into consideration that there is “no official standard for the casualty threshold that distinguishes a mass shooting from other violent crimes involving a firearm,” regardless most studies show that gun ownership increases firearm related death and suicide rates (Smart). On the Mother Jones database, a stricter database, estimated out of their one-hundred, and fifteen reported mass shootings seventy-two percent of the guns used, were obtained legally. This directly contradicts the claim that ‘gun laws won’t stop’ mass shootings (Aronsen, Pan, and Follman). Another study involving cross sectional time series concluded that “a ten unit increase in state gun law permissiveness was associated with…[a] higher rate of mass shootings” (Branas). Simply put, states with lax gun laws and higher ownership have more gun violence and mass shootings.
Journalist Joel Mathis believes “the second Amendment of the US Constitution is a failure because the right to bear arms… is supposed to protect Americans… [but] instead it endangers them.” What’s even more, is that the US has less than five percent of the world’s population, yet it also has “forty-six percent of the worlds civil-owned guns” (Masters). With this over population in gun ownership is it any wonder that the United States firearm death rate is ten times higher than that of other high-income countries (Hemenway and Grinshteyn). In addition, US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health released evidence emphasizes that “states without strict firearm laws have higher firearm related injuries, mortality rates,” and suicides (Faisal et al.). Ironically, Mathis also states that gun owners are “more likely to kill themselves… [than] kill an intruder,” and that pro-gun activists fight for a “murky pre-constitutional right to self-defense”.
Given this evidence, the question on what regulations can construct an impact on this epidemic with gun violence and mass shootings. One of President Trumps response to this, “in the old days we had mental institutions… you could nab somebody like this,” referencing the deinstitutionalization of America (Perera & Sisti). To some extent, this is true as the American Journal of Public Health states “nations with fewer psychiatric beds per person tended also to have fewer mass shootings.” The mental health in the United States is lacking, but the solution does not rest solely on psychiatric institutions but also relies on providing tools to integrate healthy social networks Shoving the mentally ill into a corner and closing the door isn’t going to solve this complicated issue. RAND Health Quarterly has moderate evidence that “prohibiting purchase or possession forms of mental illness reduce violent crime” (Morrall). Yet, “only a fraction [of the states] require a permit, license, or registration for the purchase of firearms,” which creates access for these mass shooters, and violent crimes (Perera & Sisti).
For instance, the Gun Control Act “did not actually require federally licensed firearm dealers to do much to determine the purchaser’s eligibility,” in contrast, there should be an implemented system of background, mental and drug tests before purchase (Ludwig). In the article, “Reducing Gun Violence in America” published by the National Academy of Science of the United States concludes that implementing waiting periods for this process “reduces gun homicide by about seventeen percent” (Ludwig). While this will reduce gun related deaths, the greater issue lies in the increased use of assault weapons in mass shootings- which increases the number of injuries and fatalities.
Semi-automatic assault weapons are a class of firearms designed for war, they “are specifically designed to kill humans quickly and efficiently” (Giffords). Common sense begs the question why it is still legal in most states for civilian owned semi-automatic assault weapons, when they, by definition, are classified as military firearms. Japan has the least gun homicide rate in the world, but also have the strictest gun laws. In Japan, “the only guns permitted are shotguns, air guns, guns with specific research or industrial purposes, or those used for competitions” (Masters). But not only are there limitations on types of firearms but they also “must obtain formal instruction and pass a battery of written, mental, and drug tests and a rigorous background check” while providing details on storage and use (Masters).
To simplify, there is a problem in America that needs to be fixed and ignoring the issue will not solve it. With so many studies concluding the same answer, now it will only take our elected senators and representatives to come us with clear concise regulations to limit gun violence and mass shootings. Without sacrificing our second Amendment, we can impose safer laws while enjoying our American values.
Abdalla, Zayed. “List of Mass Shootings Since Columbine Massacre.” The Villanovan. Abdalla, Zayd 20 Feb. 2019, http://www.villanovan.com/opinion/list-of-mass-shootings-since-columbine-massacre/article_be837bb6-16ae-11e8-b9dc-bfbfd95854b5.html, Accessed 5 Aug. 2019.
Aronsen, Gavin, Follman, Mark and Pan, Deanna. “US Mass Shootings, 1982-2019: Data From Mother Jones’ Investigation.” Mother Jones. Aronsen, Gavin et al. 4 Aug. 2019, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/12/mass-shootings-mother-jones-full-data/, Accessed 5 Aug. 2019.
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Cleckner, Ryan. “10 Common Arguments for Gun Control, Debunked.” The Federalist. 21 Mar. 2018, https://thefederalist.com/2018/03/21/10-common-arguments-gun-control-debunked/, Accessed 5 Aug. 2019.
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Mathis, Joel. “The Second Amendment Has Failed America.” The Week. The Week Publications Inc. 4 Aug. 2019, https://theweek.com/articles/856890/second-amendment-failed-america Accessed 5 Aug. 2019.
Morrall, Andrew. “The Science of Gun Policy: A Critical Synthesis of Research Evidence on the Effects of Gun Policies in the United States.” US National Library of Medicine National Institutes. RAND Health Quarterly 2 Aug. 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6075800/, Accessed 5 Aug. 2019.
Perera, Isabel PhD and Sisti, Dominic PhD. “Mass Shootings and Psychiatric Deinstitutionalization, Here and Abroad.” US National Library of Medicine National Institutes. American Journal of Public Health June 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6595510/, Accessed 5 Aug 2019.
Robinson, Adia. “2-month-old Survived El Paso Shooting After Mom Used Body as Shield, Texas Rep. Says.” ABC News 4 Aug. 2019, https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/gun-violence-epidemic-hate-epidemic-country-rep-veronica/story?id=64744297, Accessed 4 Aug. 2019.
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