Gun Control in the United States

In the United States, firearms have been a prevalent cause of morbidity and mortality. According to Branas, Flescher, and Formica (365), firearms deaths including suicides, unintentional shootings, and homicides have significantly increased from the 1900s reaching a plateau by the year 2000 and continues to rise. Several efforts have been made to ban private ownership of guns. Unfortunately, a certain group of gun owners has stood in the way preventing research on policies that might help in gun control or banning of private gun ownership. As Branas et al. further notes, the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency also seems to favor the people supporting gun ownership (365). Before his election, Trump constantly expressed his support on gun rights during his campaign as well as the gun lobby as an integral part of his appeal. By no doubt, the current situation in the United States seems to favor the private ownership of guns and the protection of gun rights. Nonetheless, gun violence has had a devastating impact in the United States, as mass shootings continue to increase. Thus although the logic of private gun ownership seems inexorable, the U.S. government should ban private gun ownership due to the devastating impact it has had on the nation. 

Why Private Gun Ownership should be banned

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International evidence has long proved the long-standing mantra that more guns mean more deaths and fewer guns mean fewer deaths (Kates and Mauser 650). The debate over private gun ownership control is focused on designing laws that restrict the availability of guns as a way of discouraging law-abiding citizens and criminals from acquiring firearms. Proponents of gun control argue that without the laws, criminals can easily acquire guns. Along with that, the supporters argue that arming citizens gives criminals a greater incentive to acquire guns leading to a higher number of guns in circulation. In contrast, the opponents of gun control believe that the laws will undermine the citizen’s ability to protect themselves against criminals. Unfortunately, such discussions are inhibited by misconceptions and factual errors as the comparisons are unrepresentative of the actual state of gun ownership on the ground. Consistently, we analyze the deadly impacts associated with private gun ownership, in attempt to prove why the government should ban gun ownership. 

Mass Shootings

Implicitly, the recent trends indicate a prevalence of mass public shootings in the United States. The incidents have sadly become a familiar American routine. According to an analysis by Berkowitz, Lu, and Alcantara (par. 1), the location changes, and the number of victims’ slain changes, the choice of weapon is the same. Majority of the people who target to kill a large number of people prefer doing it with guns. Consequently, although mass shootings represent only a small percentage of the United States gun deaths, the events are terrifying due to the nature of their occurrence with no warning. Usually, a lone shooter enters into a public gathering and starts shooting indiscriminately at the public until the police or an armed civilian brings him down. The shootings are also not linked to any gang dispute that went wrong, but a shooter who seems to be out on a shooting spree. People who have fallen victim to mass shootings also range from the unborn, elderly, adults, children, and teenagers all from different socioeconomic backgrounds, religion, and race. Examples of mass shootings include the latest incident that happened on 14 February 2018 in Parklands, Florida (n.p). According to the police, the student with a history of depression had been expelled from the school the previous year. He returned with a rifle and a supply of ammunition and went around the school shooting into students in the classrooms. 17 died, while 15 sustained injuries as the student dropped his weapon and tried escaping with a group of fleeing students. Another incident happened in Las Vegas on 1 October 2017 at an outdoor concert (n.p). The killer was an ardent gun collector, and a gambler who started firing into the people attending the Route 91 Harvest music festival through broke windows. At least 58 people died, while 851 sustained injuries and 422 by gunfire. The shooter who later killed himself was found with a cache of 24 legally acquired guns that were mostly semi-automatic rifles and some fitted with bump-fire. In these two incidents, the killers both had easy access to a firearm, which made it easy to target the victims. 

High homicide rates

By definition, homicide is the willful killing of one individual by another. Although in most cases homicide is not a crime in cases such as self-defense or the state-sanctioned execution of convicted criminals, criminal homicides involve willful intent, negligence, or involuntary manslaughter. In the United States, homicide is a relatively common crime and statistics indicate that the country has the highest rates of homicide incidents. Besides that, as highlighted by Boiko-Weyrauch and Trace, most of the country’s homicides were committed using firearms according to data obtained from the police departments (par. 3). For instance, in St. Louis, about 96 percent of 94 homicides were committed using guns. The same is reflected in the 88 percent of Baltimore 170 homicide cases and the 81 percent in the 136 homicide cases in Detroit (par. 4). Virtually, the high number of homicide cases is often carried out on impulse. The availability of a firearm in the drawer or the care means that the person has an easy way to end the other person’s life. Although in some cases of manslaughter, the incidents are accidental, most of them are homicides that can be prevented by the unavailability of the gun.

High suicide rates

Suicide is among the major leading cause of death in the United States. According to statistics, suicide rates are twice as many as homicide cases in the country. The high rates are driven in part by changes in the method of suicide as some people prefer suffocation, which is a highly lethal method of suicide. Consequently, research indicates that the number of suicide rates in the United States has been inflated by the easy access to firearms. The prevalence of use of guns as a cause of suicide was also highly prevalent in urban areas as compared to rural areas. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (n.p), the number of firearm suicides surpassed the total number of death by suffocation and poisoning. In numbers, the people who died from firearm suicides by 2014 was approximately 21,386 out of the total number of suicide deaths, which was approximately 42,826. In practice, having easy access to guns gives people the means to use a lethal method to end their life. If no guns were available, maybe people would use less lethal methods and increased their chance of survival. 

Gun Ownership Promotes crime instead of deterring it

In the United States, firearm violence is a prevalent public health concern with thousands of American citizens falling victim to mass shootings, firearm homicide, and suicide. Evidently, as the American citizens have continually acquired guns, the murder rate seems to have plummeted. In the wake of the recent mass shootings, the debate on gun control has intensified as proponents of gun control suggest increasing the regulation of firearms to reduce gun-related crime. According to Monuteaux, Lee, and Hemenway (4), higher rates of firearm ownership have positively been associated with high rates of firearm-related assault. The results were consistent with the findings outlined above where the rates of mass shootings, firearm homicide, and suicide have continued to increase as more Americans acquire firearms. 

When it comes to the acquisition and use of guns, America is an exceptional country. Apart from the right to bear arms that are protected by the constitution, the United States is also the most violent due to the easy access to firearms. Opponents of gun ownership argue that, if widespread gun ownership deterred criminal activities, then the country would be free of crime as compared to any other developed country. Unfortunately, it does not. In fact, getting more citizens armed translates to more problems, as people who once used a fistfight for defense will instead use a gun. Additionally, it is also plausible that high rates of crime motivate the acquisition of firearms as individuals want to protect themselves. Consequently, a closer look at the mass shootings and the high rates of suicides and homicides reveals some trends and possible interventions. Overall, the analyses support the hypothesis that firearm ownership does not deter violent firearm criminal activities. Instead, it is clear that private gun ownership is associated with higher rates of firearm-related crime. Therefore, the government and the public as well should consider coming up with policies aimed at controlling private firearm ownership. 

References

Berkowitz, B., Lu, D., & Alcantara, C. “The terrible numbers that grow with each mass shooting.” The Washington Post, 16 Feb. 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/national/mass-shootings-in-america/?utm_term=.701cccf967cd. Accessed 20 February 2015

Boiko-Weyrauch, A., & Trace, T. “Homicide rates in America’s major cities are on track to break records in 2017.” Business Insider, 31 July. 2017, http://www.businessinsider.com/homicide-rates-in-major-us-cities-to-break-records-in-2017-2017-7?IR=T. Accessed 20 February 2015

Branas, C. C., Flescher, A., Formica, M. K., Galea, S., Hennig, N., Liller, K. D., Madanat, H. N., … Ying, J. “Academic Public Health and the Firearm Crisis: An Agenda for Action.” American Journal of Public Health, vol.107, no. 3, 2017, pp. 365-367.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Suicide and self-inflicted injury.” https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/suicide.htm. Accessed 20 February 2015.

Kates, D. B., & Mauser, G. Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide? A Review of International and Some Domestic Evidence. Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, vol. 30, no. 2, 2007, pp. 649-694.Monuteaux, M. C., Lee, L. K., Hemenway, D., Mannix, R., & Fleegler, E. W. Firearm Ownership and Violent Crime in the U.S.: An Ecologic Study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, vol. 49, no. 2, 2015, pp. 1-8.

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