Is Gun Control Missing the Mark?

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By: Arthur Carlton-Jones

acarlton@terpmail.umd.edu

Copy edited: Amanda Hirsch and Kevin Qiaos

Research Edited by: Jared Bernhardt

Format edited by: Arthur Carlton-Jones

The Debate:

In America today, there is a fierce debate over the issues of gun rights and gun control. Opinions on the issue are very polarized, which makes it is a heated topic. This causes most people to simply avoid the topic. Almost everyone in the United States can buy a gun and has the right to do so. Unfortunately, this means anyone could be shot, whether by a psychopath with a gun, by an armed robber, or entirely by accident. Because of this, everyone in America has a stake in this issue; no one is beyond its scope. Since the problem is so important, it should be discussed no matter how fierce or uncomfortable the conversation may be. If the issue is never discussed, most people will lack an understanding of it and make uninformed decisions based on impulse and emotion. For the purposes of this article, “gun control” is used to refer to the legislation rather than the enforcement thereof. The Unites States’ current gun control measures are ineffective because there is not a great enough understanding of what causes people to commit gun homicides to know if regulation is the best approach to stopping this. The use of guns which are regulated, such as “assault rifles”, has not contributed nearly as significantly to the homicide rates as the use of other guns has; and despite regulation of guns in schools, children still bring guns.

The Issues:

Liberals, the primary proponents of gun regulation, would argue that if gun regulations reduce gun-related homicides, they are effective. Conservatives, the primary adversaries of gun control, would argue that gun regulations would only be effective if they profoundly reduced gun-related homicides while not compromising one’s freedom.

From 1999 to 2014, the annual rate of gun-related homicides decreased by 0.45 per hundred thousand people.[1] Liberals might attribute this to increases in gun regulations during this time; however, conservatives might argue, as Edward Erler does in his article “The Second Amendment as an Expression of First Principles”, that this decrease in homicides occurred because “Over the past two decades, gun ownership has increased dramatically.”[2] This is exactly the problem with gun control; one has no way of knowing if regulations are having their intended effect.

It is quite obvious, though, when regulation is not achieving its purpose, such as new gun control aimed at reducing school shootings. These regulations are not effective because many juveniles in the inner-city still bring guns to school.[3] This just goes to show: if someone wants to kill someone, they will find a way; no amount of gun control will stop them.

There has been a recent push to place heavy regulations on “assault weapons”, which are mainly semiautomatic rifles. These guns fall under the general category of long guns. While both homicides due to long guns and hand guns have decreased from 1999 to 2014, there have been far fewer homicides committed with long guns than with hand guns.[1] This indicates why increasing regulations on “assault weapons” is a wasted effort. Gun control should certainly not be imposed on “assault weapons” because they are used in homicides far less than other guns.

Many gun regulations are proposed out of fear or misunderstandings that arises from a lack of discussion of the issue. “Semiautomatic rifles are labeled assault weapons because of their appearance, not their mechanics.”[4] There are, however, some other gun regulations which have a purpose. For example, “sawed-off shotguns, short-barreled rifles, silencers, machine guns, and” any other type of gun that acts like a rifle or shotgun but can be easily concealed “are effectively banned.”[5] Regulation of these modified guns could actually reduce the gun-related homicide rates.

The Bottom Line

The Unites States’ current gun control measures—especially involving “assault weapons” and preventing school shootings—are ineffective because there is not a great enough understanding of what causes people to commit gun homicides. In addition to this, current gun control measures target the guns which are certainly not causing the problem, if there is a problem at all. Even though there are some aspects of gun control that work as they are intended, gun control sacrifices too much freedom for not enough safety and homicide prevention. As the quote by Benjamin Franklin usually goes, “One who would give up freedom for security deserves neither and will lose both.” Since increases in gun control have not resulted in a net beneficial result, no more gun regulations should be implemented.

Stereotyping in the United States

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By Anna Salomon Pasapera

Copy Edited by: Lizbeth Yorio and Dominique Croons

Research Edited by: Sean Cotnam

Format edited by: Arthur Carlton-Jones

The issue of racism and prejudice is an increasing issue in the United States. The U.S. is one of the most diverse countries in the world, and it is important that we treat everyone as equals, regardless of race or ethnicity. Throughout history, Latinos in America have been portrayed as criminals, unintelligent, lazy workers, and illegal by the media. Now, this has stretched to drug dealers and rapists. The impacts that stereotypes and prejudice have against Hispanics are huge and can vary from something as vast as creating international conflict, to loss of employment and depression for the victims of the discrimination.

Not All Stereotypes Are Bad?

Some people argue that not all stereotypes are bad. However, those who make this argument most likely have never experienced discrimination themselves or, have never had any direct involvement with it. In this country, that category consists of mostly white males or, those in the upper class, and sometimes politicians. There are times when stereotypes are used to put people into a category; according to an article by Heidi Burgess, the groups they belong to are used to help people make educated inferences about how those people will behave based on their grouping.[1] Making these inferences can be helpful in human interaction. Generalizations about a group can aid people in determining what kind of behavior is appropriate or not with certain groups. Stereotypes can be seen as a good thing as long as they are accurate, it is when they are incorrect that they tend to be a problem.

The more common argument is that stereotypes are unacceptable at all times. According to the article “Impact Of Latino Stereotypes: Latin Americans Viewed Most Negatively In Immigrant Comparison Study” by Sarah Gates from the Huffington Post, Latino stereotypes can have a significantly negative impact on the way people view immigration.[2] Discriminating against others because of their race can be very disrespectful and hurtful regardless of the purpose. Whether a stereotypical statement is offensive or not should be up to the group being patronized. Most of the time these groups find these comments insulting and demeaning. According to the Migration Policy Institute, stereotypes can cost people their jobs, and consequently their homes and opportunities at a successful life. This opinion is held mostly by the more liberal population and those who have experienced discrimination first hand.

My Side

As someone who has experienced discrimination multiple times throughout my life, I stand behind the argument that stereotypes are never ok. Although they may have good intentions, and are not trying to be negative, I think that any form of classifying people is not right, especially if we are trying to be a country that promotes equality. Hispanics are the fastest growing minority groups in the US, and deserve to be treated as a part of this country being that they will soon make up a significant chunk of the population. Any type of grouping can be hurtful to people, even if it isn’t negative. Nobody should be able to tell other people what group they belong to, or to make generalizations about them. More often than not, stereotypes are found to be degrading and can cause more harm than good.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that prejudice against any group, in this case Latinos, is inappropriate and should be addressed immediately. Like Judith Cofer Ortiz said in her well written personal essay, “The Myth of the Latin Woman: I Just Met a Girl Named Maria”, “I hope the stories I tell, the dreams and fears I examine in my work, can achieve some universal truth which will get my audience past the particulars of my skin color, my accent, or my clothes.”[3] Cofer, like many Latinos, agrees that we are more than just a skin color, and she claims that the only way to change people’s divisive perceptions, is to replace these ideals with a “set of realities”. Abolishing stereotypes in this country should be of top priority due to the large amount of diversity. I think that it is important for this nation, as well as for individual citizens, to act as one to be successful.

Pulling the Trigger on Gun Control

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By: Megan Kee

Email: mkee@terpmail.umd.edu

Copy edited by: Maggie McPherson

Research Edited by: Jared Bernhardt

The presidential debates have just concluded, and the presidential election are right around the corner. Among the topics discussed were the high profile shootings of minorities, and gun control. In both politics and the daily lives of Americans, people often debate whether or not stricter gun control laws should be implemented. Each new occurrence of a mass shooting or the murder of a widely admired person, such as Christina Grimmie, spark new controversies on gun control.

Gun control laws of the United States regulate the sale, possession, and use, of firearms  and ammunition. These regulations have been a hotly debated topic for decades. They vary considerably depending on the state however. For example, each state has its own laws regarding the right-to-carry. Other gun control laws restrict the magazine capacity, or regulate whether or not you need a permit to purchase handguns or long guns.

There have been many cases where people, both legally and illegally, obtain firearms only to go on a shooting spree, killing dozens. James Holmes, 24, opened fire at a Century movie theater, killing 12, and injuring 70, at the 2012 Aurora shooting. Adam Lanza, 20, opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, killing 27, including his mother, and injuring 2. Christina Grimmie, 22, was shot by 27-year-old Kevin James Loibl while signing autographs following her performance, Before You Exit, in Orlando June of 2016.

So Why Not Implement Stricter Gun Control?

If someone is dead-set on acquiring guns for malicious intent, they will do it either legally or illegally. Instead of protecting lives, imposing stricter gun control laws will only serve to infringe upon the United States’ citizens’ Second Amendment. People have a right to bear arms; taking away guns won’t solve anything, but will instead violate the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

People have noted that a good portion of those committing the mass shootings have psychological issues. Adam Lanza, perpetrator of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, had been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. James Holmes, perpetrator of the Aurora shooting, was found to have been, “depressed and obsessed with murder since about the age of 14”. He had also been, “seeing a psychiatrist specializing in schizophrenia.”. According to the National Institutes of Health, there have been findings suggesting that, “up to 60% of perpetrators of mass shootings in the United States since 1970 displayed symptoms including acute paranoia, delusions, and depression before committing their crimes.”.

Instead of focusing on treating a symptom of the problem with stricter gun control, the focus should be on the root of the problem, by ensuring that the mentally ill get proper care and treatment.

Aren’t There Some Benefits Though?

Stricter laws will increase public safety in some way and will reduce the number of casualties from gun related deaths. Currently, there are no laws forbidding the sale of firearms to people on a watch list, or a no-fly list. If their rights are curtailed, then the chances of people dying from gun-related murder, whether it be mass shootings, domestic violence, or anything else, can potentially decrease.

In cases such as domestic abuse, implementing a waiting period for gun purchases can save the lives of the abused. The waiting period, sometimes ten days, will allow the abuser to cool off and decide against making rash decisions. It also decreases the chances that a depressed individual makes an impulsive decision to commit suicide.

In other cases, homeowners buy guns to store in their houses for self-defense. On March 24, 2016, “a homeowner shot an intruder who tried to break into her Indianapolis home Thursday afternoon.” Had the homeowner not owned a gun, it is possible that both her and her baby could have been shot to death.

The Bottom Line

We need to administer gun control to a certain degree. With the right gun control laws, we should be able to protect citizens while still respecting their rights. Laws forbidding people on watch lists, or no-fly lists, from buying guns add another level of safety withoutt stripping guns from citizens completely. However, we should also not forget to investigate the studies proclaiming that the majority of mass shootings are committed by people with mental illnesses. We should refrain from implementing excessive laws based on mental illness cases. If we are to make the country a safer place, we must find the perfect balance between regulation and freedom.

There Are Virtually NO African-American Women in STEM: And Here’s Why

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By: Ariana Bailey

Copy edited by: Amanda Hirsch and Maggie McPherson

Research edited by: Sean Cotnam

Format edited by: Arthur Carlton-Jones

Working in STEM allows you to figure out ways to enhance the future of technology and medicine. The field is also known to be financially stable with low unemployment rates. STEM is a field that provides the perfect combination of practicality and innovation. Other fields of work usually can only provide one or the other.

That’s why I decided to major in animal biotechnology when I enrolled in college. I knew that this major wasn’t a popular choice. However, when I sat down with my academic advisor and learned that you could count the number of black girls with the same major on one hand, it’s safe to say I was quite surprised. It wasn’t just my major that had an extremely small amount of black female participation, this trend permeated throughout all fields of STEM and at all levels of higher education. The number dwindles even more when looking at the amount of women with higher-level positions in STEM jobs.

The Numbers

The National Science Foundation (NSF) released a survey conducted in 2014 on American college freshman who were attending 4-year universities and intended to major in science or engineering. Out of all the African American/black females who were surveyed, only 5% were planning on majoring in engineering and only 2% were planning on majoring in math or computer science. These percentages are pretty low in comparison to those of African American men, among which 14.6% were planning on majoring in engineering and 6.8% were planning on majoring in math or computer science.[1] Based off of this sizeable gap, it is clear that African American women are reluctant to pursue STEM at a college level.

The NSF also released data in 2016 showing that black women comprised 10% of all women who earned a bachelor’s in science or engineering[2] and 9% of all women who earned a masters in the same areas.[3] The proportion decreases significantly when looking at all women who have earned doctoral degrees in science or engineering, with black women comprising less than 3% of that population.[4] Black women with STEM doctorates also comprised less than 4% of all women with STEM doctorates in the STEM workforce.[5]

Why So Few?

I am an African-American woman who plans on having a successful career in biotechnology. When I retire and look back at all of my achievements, I want to be able to say that I not only changed the face of science and medicine, but also opened doors for other black women who wanted to do the same. But before I do that, I must understand what factors are causing so few black women to pursue STEM in the first place.

Of course, the first factor that comes to mind when determining how to be successful in STEM is educational attainment. However, in the case of black women in America, educational attainment truly isn’t the problem. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, African-American women are one of the most educated demographics in the United States. Between 2009 and 2010, black women earned 66 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 71 percent of master’s degrees and 65 percent of all doctorates awarded to black students.[6] We can see that educational attainment isn’t the reason why black women aren’t moving forward in STEM, many other individual and environmental are at play here. I believe that the classroom and workplace environments are greatly implicated in the deficiency of black women in STEM.

The Culprit

Black woman are definitely tokens in the STEM field and will often be in environments where they are one of a kind, and much like any other environment with a major and minority population, stereotyping and discrimination are bound to occur. Stereotyping isn’t just stressful on a personal level, but can also implicate a person’s ability to establish the networks necessary for doing well in difficult classes or advancing to higher positions at work. Stereotyping can also cause the ideas of black woman to be overlooked in the classroom or workplace. Majority groups tend to over-scrutinize the behavior and performance of a token classmate or employee.[7] Being black and a woman in a white-male-dominated field like STEM can be extremely stressful because you are constantly trying to prove that you are just as knowledgeable and innovative as your co-workers or classmates, even though you are obviously qualified. The combined stress from a discriminatory workplace and a strenuous workload of STEM could cause any person to decide to pursue other endeavors.

It’s up to people like me, the of black women in STEM on campus and on the job, to speak up about tour personal discriminatory experiences, and promote an inclusive space for future black female scientists and engineers.

Stop and Frisk; Stop or Continue?

By: Levan Ungiadze

Copy edited by Dominique Croons and Brett Levenstein

Research Edited by Brett Levenstein

Format edited by: Arthur Carlton-Jones

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What is Stop and Frisk and why is it important?

During the first presidential debate between Hillary R. Clinton and Donald J. Trump, the New York Billionaire suggested that violence in Chicago is even worse than that of Afghanistan, and called for stop and frisk, which is a policing tactic that has been widely condemned as racial profiling. Stop and frisk gives police the power to detain and search people if there are specific reasons for suspicion. Critics of this practice claim that there is often no specific evidence and that it disproportionately affects minorities.[1] It is extremely important to consider that the U.S. District Court judge ruled this practice unconstitutional. Still, the topic has been brought back up by the presidential candidate Trump, and hence the conversation has once again opened. Even though stop and frisk was ruled to be unconstitutional, should the US still practice it?

Racial profiling and its negative consequences?

In the federal class action lawsuit Floyd, et al. v. City of New York, et al, “Floyd focuses not only on the lack of any reasonable suspicion to make these stops in violation of the Fourth Amendment, but also on the obvious racial disparities in who is stopped”.[2] (gramma-Dominique) Since 2002, New York residents have been subjected to over 5 million cases of stop and frisk, and “Nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent, according to the NYPD’s own reports”.[3] Out of these 5 million stops, approximately 85 percent were either Black or Latino, even though these two groups together only make up 52 percent of the city’s population. For many, such obvious racial profiling “constitutes a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment”.[4] For example, in 2006, New Yorkers were stopped by the police a total of 506, 491 times. Out of these, 90 percent were totally innocent, 53 percent were Black and 29 percent were Latino, while white people only made up 11 percent of the stops.[5]

Such blatant racial profiling can possibly stem distrust of the police force in the Black and Latino communities and will turn a structure that is supposed be a symbol of help and hope into something feared. In case of emergencies, many might not seek for help of the police because of mistrust or some might decide to run from them even when innocent due to the fear of their words not having enough weight.

Violent crime decline and its possible reasons?

According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department, Ray Kelly claimed that the streets of New York are much safer now and that is true, violent crimes fell 29 percent in New York City from 2001 to 2010, but no research has tied this decline to the stop and frisk regime. In those years “large cities experienced larger violent crime declines without relying on stop and frisk abuses: 59 percent in Los Angeles, 56 percent in New Orleans, 49 percent in Dallas, and 37 percent in Baltimore”.[6] Hence, the stop and frisk practices in New York did not decrease crime rates and the reason for the 29 percent drop needs to be found in other variables such as growth in income, lower unemployment rates and decreased alcohol consumption.

Bottom Line

As someone who has experienced this practice firsthand, I can certainly talk about the negative sides related to stop and frisk. I was once stopped without any real reason while walking back home from a friend’s apartment. Since I had already heard from a couple of my friends just how roughly they were treated, I did not question anything the police told me, and I simply complied. They patted me around, laughed, emptied my backpack onto the ground, and once done searching, did not pick anything up. The whole experience was morally demeaning as I was put in a situation where I was being treated unjustly, but couldn’t do anything about it. I knew how any hint of struggling would be used completely against me. In conclusion, not only is stop and frisk unconstitutional, inefficient, morally wrong and promoting racial profiling, it also leaves the victim with a distrust of the police force and divides communities. Bringing such a hurtful regime back would be a mistake.

What Is the Cause of the Gender Pay Gap?

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By: Amanda Hirsch

Copy Edited by: Kevin Qiao and Maggie McPherson

Research Edited by: Sean Cotnam

Format edited by: Arthur Carlton-Jones

On average, for every $1.00 a man makes, a woman makes $0.79.[1] This is an issue in the United States that does not go unrecognized. It is constantly brought up in politics, studied by experts, and petitioned by citizens. However, the reason behind it is not understood. It is important for citizens to comprehend where this gap comes from, so we can make changes to narrow it.

Before the 1960’s, job ads in the newspaper would specify whom they wanted for their jobs. They would say explicitly whether they wanted a male or female employee, and the male would almost always be listed for the higher-skill job. These listings would also include different spots within one organization, just offering the man a higher salary than the women for the same positions. On June 10, 1963, the Equal Pay Act was passed, making it illegal to pay women lower rates for the same job strictly because of their sex.[2]

Unfortunately, the problem was not solved in 1963. Over the past decades, the United States has failed to close the gender pay gap between men and women due to the industrialized discrimination against women in the workforce. The perspectives of economists, experts, and the rest of society all vary on how this discrimination translates into distinct causes of the gap.

The Technical Cause

Economists use the human capital theory to explain the gap. This is a calculated system that revolves around the idea that education, training, and work experience can increase productivity. Economists use this idea to rationalize the wage gap by breaking down the change in variables of women’s work and how the variables affect women’s salaries.[3] Many argue against this theory and state that it does not take social norms and individual variables into account because it is based on such a large-scale calculation.

Devaluation

Many women believe their work is simply devalued. Society builds social norms that their work is worth less than men’s, which is translated into the decisions employers make. A shocking two-third of workers in low-wage jobs such as child care and health aides are women.[4] This is not necessarily because these are their dream jobs, but because when more women move into a field, the reputation and wages of that field decline.

Women’s Choice

Many think that the gap is simply caused by women gravitating toward less-respected jobs. Some women do this because they are in denial of the discrimination; however, some simply choose a lower-wage job because they want to. Other women end up choosing these jobs because of the gender socialization they grew up with–that they should be nurturing and caring.[5]

Lack of Accommodations

Unfortunately, many jobs are not flexible when it comes to accommodations regarding part-time hours and maternity leave. The United States is one of the only countries that does not offer paid maternity leave. If women need to go on maternity leave or work part-time to care for their children, jobs often lower their income and/or position. Because of this, women tend to choose lower income jobs that offer intermittent leave.[6]

The Bottom Line

The gender pay gap exists because women’s jobs are devalued. Once women enter job fields, those fields’ pay go down, and the jobs gain weaker reputations. It is very difficult for women to leave these jobs once they are in them. This cycle widens the gap because women are consistently being paid less and losing respect, while men remain in high skilled jobs with growing incomes. Even if women are working in high salary jobs, there is still a lack of leadership positions for them. Despite the job or the position in it, women’s work is devalued and viewed as less skillful than men’s, ultimately widening the gap.

Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton vs ???

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By: Stefon Wytner

Copy edited by: Amanda Hirsch and Jared Bernhardt

Research edited by: Sean Cotnam

Format edited by: Arthur Carlton-Jones

The presidential election can be an exciting time for people who are ready to either vote in the next president or to keep the president from the previous term. Technically speaking, anybody over the age of 35 that was born in the U.S. and has lived in the U.S. for 14 years can run for president. There are also multiple parties who run for president, however, we only seem to talk about the democrats and the republicans.  Third parties have always been that other side of the presidential election that gets ignored.  The two main third parties are the Green Party and the Libertarian Party.  While these are the most well-known minority parties, they are never a real factor in the election.  At this point, will a third party candidate ever become the president?  Clearly not any time soon because there has been little representation of these parties in the past elections and the current election.

Historic Evidence

There is a possibility that a third party candidate will never win the presidential election.  The only parties to win the election that weren’t the democrats, republicans, or the democratic-republicans were the Union Party, the Federalist Party, and the Whig Party per PresidentsUSA.[1]  This may give people hope that a party other than the democrats and republicans could once again win the election. It is not easy to compare the past political parties to the ones now. The Whig and Federalists parties went under decades ago.  The Whig Party, unlike the Federalist Party, still exists today.[2]  They are extremely minor, to the point where they don’t have a presidential candidate in this election.  The Whig Party has not had a candidate in decades.  The Federalist Party and Union party no longer exist since the country is no longer in a civil war.  Not only that, but over the last few elections third party candidates only accumulated less than 5% of the popular votes via The Washington Post.[3]  This leaves over 95% to the two main candidates.  There’s nothing hopeful in those numbers.  What’s the point of even voting third party if their chances of winning are this low?

Current Evidence

Even with all the talk of how bad the two main candidates for the current election are, polls by Real Politics and NBC show that the percentage of votes for third party candidates is only expected to go up to about 10-12% in the upcoming election.[4][5]  Now while that does show improvement that might make some say that minority parties are on the rise, it still leaves a majority of the vote to two candidates who many think aren’t suitable for American presidency.

Despite their lack of attention, third party candidates are always interesting.  This year we have Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party and Jill Stein of the Green Party.  These candidates aren’t getting enough exposure to outshine the Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton saga.  Eventually we will get back to having respectable candidates for American presidency and third party candidates will be forgotten again.  It hasn’t happened before and it isn’t going to happen now, so why have any hope for the future?