Proposal of A Gun Ban: Against 2nd Amendment
“It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever for whatever purpose”. The words of Justice Antonin Scalia offer a good defense for gun control. The debate on gun control began in the mid-60s after the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., and Senator Robert F. Kennedy. The citizens of the United States recognized the violence plaguing their nation could be stopped through gun regulation, much like many citizens recognize today. The reason regulating gun use in the United States is so difficult lies in the 2nd Amendment of our Constitution which talks about the rights of the people to own firearms. With a deeper look into the 2nd Amendment and an overwhelming amount of evidence of bloodshed, it will be clear that implementing a gun ban in the United States will decrease gun violence, thus creating a safer environment nationwide.
The fight against gun control is, admittedly, not unwarranted. Armed citizen-soldiers are the only reason we can call ourselves the United States of America today, they fought off British soldiers and won America’s freedom from England over two centuries ago. There are two popular interpretations of the 2nd Amendment, the collective rights interpretation and the individual rights interpretation. Proponents for gun rights and loose gun laws generally adopt the individual rights approach which examines the part of the 2nd Amendment that states, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”. According to this line of thought, a gun ban would be unconstitutional because it would be infringing on the right of citizens to own guns. Another part of the argument for gun ownership is the idea of self-protection. Stronger still is the evidence that supports more guns does not necessarily equate to more gun murder. The gun murder rate in 1993 was 7 per 100,000 according to the CDC and in 2013 it was 3.5 per 100,000 even though gun ownership is rising each year. In 1994, Americans owned around 192 million guns and in 2016 they owned between 245 and 328 million and the per-capita gun murders went down by almost half. Something supporters of gun ownership also point out is how politicians conveniently offer arguments for gun reform after something tragic, like a mass shooting, has happened. Lastly, most gun deaths are suicides and because of that gun ownership supporters would argue it is not fair to the American people to ban guns when most gun deaths happen between a person and themselves. Guns make up just 5% of U.S. suicide attempts and one could argue that reducing or banning guns will only lead to other methods of suicide. While the argument for gun ownership has some strong points, each point has an even stronger counterpoint.
For the argument centered around the 2nd Amendment, one could examine the first half of the amendment rather than the second part that most people focus on. Viewing the 2nd Amendment through a collective rights lens allows for a different interpretation. The 2nd Amendment begins by saying, “a well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state”. There is no longer citizen militia warfare going on in the U.S., citizen militias were replaced with the National Guard they work together with our Armed Forces to protect the security of our free state today. With no militia, the 2nd Amendment does not grant citizens the right to bear arms and until the day comes when the U.S. will need citizen militias again, the right to bear arms does not apply to civilians.
In response to the self-protection argument, surveys show in incidents where the victim and the offender make contact only 0.9% of them involved gun use for self-defense, and about 1% of cases of robbery and non-sexual assault involved gun use for self-defense. Studies have also shown that self-defense gun use is not associated with a reduced risk of victim injury. Many gun ownership supporters also claim they need a gun to protect their home, but data gathered in the U.S. showed of over 14,000 cases of crime where the victim was present, 127 cases involved self-defense gun use and it was more common in males in rural areas who were away from their home. It has been proven that having guns for defense does not deter crime any more than not having guns.
Another safety issue revolving around gun use concerns a marginalized group of citizens, women. Most gun owners are male. In 2013, 966 women in America were murdered by an intimate man in their life (husbands, boyfriends, exes) and over half of those murders were committed using a gun. Women are twice as likely to be murdered by their husband or boyfriend with a gun than to be killed by stabbing, shooting, strangling, bludgeoning or some other forms of attack by a stranger and her chances of being killed are drastically higher if she’s purchased a gun. Simply regulating gun purchases to handguns would not improve this statistic since most intimate partner homicides involving a gun are committed with a handgun. In a study that continued for a duration of 6 years, women who bought a handgun for protection were twice as likely to be killed with that gun by their intimate partner. The primary reason women purchase guns is for protection and yet just having the gun in their home puts them in greater danger.
According to New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, more Americans have died from guns in the U.S. since 1968 than on battlefields of all the wars in American history. Among developed nations, the U.S. is the most homicidal housing almost half of the civilian-owned guns around the world, but only accounting for 4.4% of the world’s population. The U.S. has 6 times as many civilian firearms as Canada and 16 times as many as Germany. In a span of 6 years, between 2012 and 2018, 1,800 people have been killed and 6,400 injured in the U.S. during mass shootings. Florida has been home to two of some of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history, the Parkland school shooting, and the Pulse nightclub shooting. In 2015, there were 355 mass shootings by the 336th day of the year, and generally, the U.S. averages about one mass shooting a day. In light of this, the argument that politicians and protestors only mention gun control after a tragedy in order to garner sympathy is true but only because there is a gun tragedy to speak about in the U.S. almost every day.
Common combat to this line of thinking is simply restricting gun laws and who can purchase firearms. A study in Florida found that 62% of violent gun crime arrests and 28% of gun suicides were committed by shooters who were not legally permitted to have a gun. Florida is notoriously lenient with who can purchase guns, not requiring a background check, state license, registration, or having any regulation on assault weapons, 50 caliber rifles, large-capacity ammunition magazines, unsafe handguns, and having no limit on the number of guns a person can purchase at one time. Criminal gun exports are easier through Florida since acquiring guns is easier in Florida, so many people buy guns from Florida just to ship them out or take them to other states. From 2013 to 2017 16,630 guns recovered by police after crimes were committed, were originally purchased in Florida. Guns are the 3rd leading cause of death in children aged 1-17 in Florida.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. Those who want to keep their guns often counter suicide by saying guns only account for 5% of suicide attempts in the U.S., and they’re correct. This is because guns are so effective. The gruesome truth is although suicide attempts are only 5% gun-related, 50% of suicide deaths in the U.S. are a result of guns. Half of the successful suicides in the U.S. have been committed using guns, which would explain why unsuccessful attempts using a gun only account for 5% of attempts. In a ten-year study period, from 2005 to 2015, it was found that in the 10 states with the highest youth suicide rates, the household gun ownership was about 52.5% within each respective state. Alternatively, 10 of the states with the lowest youth suicide rates had only 20% of households with guns. Simply access to a gun raises youth suicide rates by over 30%. In Australia, more restrictive gun laws were passed and the Australian government started buying back guns. By buying back approximately 3,500 guns per 100,000 people, Australia saw over a 50% decrease in firearm homicides and a 74% drop in gun suicides. Suicide rates within the Israeli military dropped by 40% after they ruled soldiers could no longer take their guns home over the weekend. More than 63% of gun deaths in Florida are suicides. Between the years 2013 and 2017, 8,129 people in Florida died by gun-related suicide which can be approximated to about 1 gun-related suicide every 5 hours.
The conversation surrounding gun laws have been long been heavily and heatedly debated. Gun laws are such hard waters to navigate in the U.S. because of the different possible interpretations of the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The argument for free gun ownership is a strong one that makes many plausible points, but the fact of the matter is, the evidence of violence as a result of gun-owning is unsurmountable. There is also data that shows gun restriction can reduce this violence whether it be homicide, domestic and spousal violence, mass shootings, or suicide. The argument that guns serve as a form of self-protection is also flawed because studies show there is no positive correlation between owning a gun and protecting yourself. In light of all these findings, the claim can be made that a gun ban in the U.S. will make for a much safer nation. The lives of the American people need to be, above all else, preserved and prolonged in order to ensure a lasting, promising future for this nation.
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