by Jose Romarah Chery ’16
Guns are one of those things that are closely associated to American culture. They have been a part of the United States since the creation of this great nation, but lately it’s validity has been in question.
Political ideals and regional cultures seem to force people to pick a side without letting the public process all the necessary facts. When mass shootings occur, politicians go on national television and simply tell the public that bad things happen.
A candidate for the presidential race, Governor Michael “Mike” Dale Huckabee, blamed gun violence on the removal of prayer in schools. Let’s not forget the new crazes, blaming gun violence on the mentally ill or the idea everyone should be armed. It’s time to stop caring about Liberal, Conservative, or cultural stances, and start focusing on the facts. The fact is we need to stop making excuses and address the issues of guns in a realistic view. We need better gun control.
According to the data map, The Gun Ownership and Gun Homicides Murder map of the World by Simon Rogers from The Guardian.com, the United States has the highest average of firearms per 100 people and 60-80% of our homicides are done by firearms. The U.S. does not have the highest homicide rate, but we do have the highest in the developed world. The U.S. has a higher gun homicide rate than some third world countries. Therefore, the connection between guns and crime should not be ignored. The unusually high gun homicide rate should be unsettling to more Americans.
In order to create new and effective gun control laws, we have to stop constantly lumping gun violence and mental illness together. The Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibited anyone who was admitted into a mental hospital or was “adjudicated as a mental defective” from purchasing firearms.
Many of the gun control acts that were passed since the Act of 1968 are similar and harsher, but this sounds promising until it’s examined closer, especially since mental illness is a broad term. Not to mention, things that were once considered mental illnesses are being revised or have been debunked such as homosexuality.
One could say that these acts and laws trample over the mentally ill’s Second Amendment right because even if they are cured, properly medicated, or have a minor mental illnesses they are still banned from having a gun.
These laws that unfairly single out the mentally ill are not based on concrete facts. According to the article Is There a Link Between Mental Health and Gun Violence? by Maria Konnikova in The New Yorker, Jeffrey Swanson, a medical sociologist and professor of psychiatry at Duke University, found that most people with a mental illness are not dangerous and the correlation between mental illness is present but very slim. Other studies have found that the mentally ill are more likely to be victims of violence rather than the cause.
The availability of guns in the United States should also concern Americans. According to the article How Criminals get their Guns by Dan Noyes on PBS.ORG, most guns used in criminal activity were not stolen. They were purchased through crooked dealers who obtained the guns legally or through straw purchase, which is when one person buys a gun for another.
It’s even easier to get a gun if they’re no record. According to the article This is how easy it is to buy guns in America by Aaron Smith on Money.CNN.com, buying a gun can be as easy as walking into a Walmart in some places. A short questionnaire is given, and the FBI does a quick background check that lasts only a few minutes. Don’t want the government snooping through your information? Well, there is a gun show loophole that allows you to get guns at certain gun shows without a background check. Basically, depending on where you live, anyone could get a gun in a less than a day. Now, don’t you think that it should not be this easy to buy something that can easily be used to kill people?
There are those who believe we should give guns to regular people for self-defense instead of implementing better gun control laws. They believe in allowing teachers and faculty should have guns. Being in the possession of a gun does not assure safety. Without training, teachers and faculty would not know how to react in a dangerous situation.
It would not make sense to abolish the Second Amendment because guns have such a huge impact on American culture. There are already too many people with guns in the United States. I don’t believe that the Founding Fathers intended for civilians to be able to own automatic or semi-automatic guns that could fire up to 166 rounds per second, and the fact that it’s legal should baffle more people. We need to urge Congress to make laws banning automatic and semi-automatic weapons and crack down on illegal gun trade. Background checks, month long gun training, and professional Physiological evaluations should be mandatory. No one should be able to gain access to such a dangerous weapon so easily.