Understanding the Gun Control Debate


Rachael Snyder, Writer

More gun control laws would reduce gun deaths, according to the CDC; there was a total of 464, 033 total gun deaths between 1999 and 2013: 270, 237 suicides ( 58.2% of total deaths), 174, 773 homicides (37.75%) and 9,983 unintentional deaths (2.2%). Guns were the leading cause of death by homicide (66.65% of homicides) and by suicide (52.2% of all suicides). Firearms were the 12th leading causes of all deaths, representing 1.3% of total deaths which topped liver disease, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, deaths from fires, drowning and machinery accidents.

Additionally, high capacity magazines should be banned because they too often turn murder into mass murder. When high capacity magazines were used in mass shootings, the death rate rose 156%. Some gang members use high-capacity magazines, such as 30 rounds or even 90 rounds, to compensate for lack of accuracy and maximize the chance to harm. People for gun control may argue that more gun control laws are needed to protect women from domestic abusers and stalkers. Five women are murdered with guns every day in the United States, according to the article “Women under the Gun: How Gun Violence Affects Women and 4 Policy Solutions to Better Protect Them” by Arkadi Gerney and Chelsea Parsons.

A woman’s risk of being murdered increases to 50% if a gun is present during a domestic dispute, as stated in “The Connection between Domestic Violence and Weak Gun Laws.” With this in mind, guns are rarely used in self-defense, of the 29,618,300 violent crimes committed between 2007 and 2011, 0.79% of victims (235,700) protected themselves with the threat of use a firearm, it was the least employed form of protective behavior, according to a Department of Justice report. In addition, legally owned guns are frequently stolen and used by criminals. A June 2013 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report states that almost all guns used in criminal acts enter circulation via initial legal transaction.

However, opponents of stricter gun control regulations refer to how the Second Amendment to the US Constitution protects individual gun ownership. The Second Amendment of the US Constitution reads, “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.” More gun control laws would infringe upon the right to bear arms. A counterpoint to the pros are gun control laws do not deter crime; gun ownership deters crime. A 2013 study found that between 1980 and 2009, “assault weapons bans did not significantly affect murder rates at the state level” and “states with restrictions on carrying concealed weapons had higher gun-related murders. While people against gun control might argue that gun control laws infringe upon the right to self-defense and deny people a sense of safety, guns are used for self-defense 2.5 million times a year, according to National Rifle Association. 61% of men and 56% of women surveyed by Pew Research for the article “Why Own a Gun? Protection Is Now Top Reason” stated that gun control laws, “make it more difficult for people to protect their homes and families.” In “The Second Amendment and the Inalienable Right to Self-Defense,” Nelson Lund, JD, Ph.D., Professor at George Mason University School of Law stated, “The right to self-defense and to the means of defending oneself is a basic natural right that grows out of the right to life.” Another con of gun control is gun control laws especially those that try to ban assault weapons infringe upon people’s right to own guns for hunting and sport. In 2011, there were 13.7 million hunters 16 years old or older in the United States, and they spent $7.7 billion on guns, sights, ammunition, and other hunting equipment, according to a US Fish and Wildlife Service survey in 2011. In target shooting tournaments and hunting high powered semi-automatic rifles/shotguns are used are used each year.   

Perhaps the people arguing this controversial topic could reach a compromise, such as after the Orlando shooting last year, Susan Collins offered an interesting solution of sorts which prohibits gun sales to people on terrorist watch lists, including the No Fly List; it allows for American citizens and green-card holders to appeal if their purchase is restricted. But what if we–as individuals–are not dealing with a someone who has been flagged under Collins’s solution, like, for example, the shooter in Las Vegas or shooters in other mass shootings terrorist that have occurred over the years? Should there be a different screening process? Perhaps a psychological evaluation, but how would one be able to screen individuals? Nevertheless, whether or not you’re against gun control or a supporter of it, it is important to look at all of the facts before coming to conclusion about this controversial topic since it affects everyone and the environment we live in.