Is Gun Control Missing the Mark?

carlton

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.

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Pulling the Trigger on Gun Control

MeganImage.png

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.