Opinion: Gun laws threatened at hands of emotionally charged victims After Each Mass Shooting

April 19, 2018

Opinion

By Jackie Ritter and Austin Wolfe

On February 14th, 2018, the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (Parkland) were targeted at random by the hands of a mentally unstable human, and 17 people died.

On December 7th, 2017, a high school in Aztec, New Mexico was targeted, and two people died.

On November 5th, 2017, a small church in Sutherland Springs, Texas was targeted; 27 people died.

As tragic as each of these shootings are, each could have been prevented. Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland shooter, was reported to the FBI more than 20 times. William Atchinson, the Aztec shooter, was investigated by the FBI, they later closed this investigation. David Patrick Kelley, the shooter at Sutherland Springs, had a past with domestic violence, bad-conduct discharge from the military, and spent a year in military prison, and should not of been able to legally buy firearms, he was also shot and killed by a citizen.

These are just the recent shootings, with many more having similar patterns, including Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook) and James Holmes (Colorado Movie Theater). The laws of gun ownership have been questioned, sparking the “March for Our Lives” movement, having Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg as some of the most familiar faces.

After each mass shooting, the gun laws in the United States are threatened at the hands of emotionally charged victims. The most recent shooting, sparked a movement called “March for our Lives”, who organized a nationwide walk out March, 14th. This movement called for multiple changes in gun laws, including banning high capacity magazines, and closing the gun show loophole. The widely known figures that speak for this group are mostly teenagers who were involved in the Parkland shooting.

Anecdotally, they are the best candidates to call for gun control, as they just witnessed the absolute peak of what happens when a mentally ill human gets their hands on a firearm. Legally, however, they should have no say of what gun laws are passed, they are not experts in gun control, and they are infringing upon the rights of Americans, and the 2nd amendment, although they do have the right to express their concern.

Their website suggests to ban high capacity magazines, but they do not take into account that they would need to grandfather the currently owned high capacity magazines in the U.S., and are only capable of banning the future sales of high capacity magazines. In instances for hunting, they are correct, you do not need more than 10 rounds if you are hunting correctly. In instances where a gun is used for personal protection, you may need more than ten rounds depending on how many people you may be confronted with.

We do not have the 2nd amendment for hunting, we have it to protect ourselves as individual citizens.

They state a ban for assault weapons, but do not state what they classify as an “assault weapon.” Assuming they are talking about rifles, these guns made up only 323 deaths in 2011, while handguns killed 6,220.While there are around 33,000 gun deaths in the US annually, 21,000 of these deaths are suicides, and 11,000 are homicides, and 550 are accidents/ acts of terrorism/ mass shootings. Of these deaths, men over the age of 45 make up more than half of all suicides, and young men make up more than half of homicides.

Now. assuming they are talking about fully automatic rifles compared to semi automatic rifles, it is extremely hard to obtain a fully automatic weapon. They are expensive (in the thousands; $15,000- $50,000) due to their limited availability; since 1986 manufacturers have not been able to necessarily make fully automatic weapons to sell to the public, a person must pay $200 and wait months for a background check to pass by the ATF, and private civilian ownership is illegal of class 3 firearms made after 1986.

Everyone on both right or left acknowledge that there is a problem with mass public shootings in our country. And we will concede the United States has the most mass public shootings in the world, but we should keep things grounded in reality. A main component of the “America is first for the most public mass shootings in the world” argument fails to consider population size. When you organize the amount of mass public shootings by every million people, the United States doesn’t make the top ten.

Norway, who over doubles the United States in mass shootings per million people, has some of the strictest gun laws in Europe as well as France and Belgium. Switzerland, in fact, only hands guns out for mandatory military service and keeps them in extremely controlled environments. Later on the list are Balkan nations, where there is a ‘Gun Culture’, such as Serbia, most guns are gained through the black market that circumvents the gun laws those nations, who are already more unstable and economically weaker than western nations. For context, the United States is closer to twelfth place, being Austria, than it is tenth which is the Czech Republic. This diversity of gun laws in these nations show that legislation has no impact on public mass shooting rates worldwide.

Yet what is more damning is that over 98% of these mass shootings, at least in the United States, occur in areas where guns are not allowed to be carried even concealed, called “gun-free zones”. For example, most schools are “gun-free” zones by law and churches are “gun-free” zones by choice yet still, these are the main areas where overwhelming majority of mass shootings occur. Why? Well it’s simple really. These areas have no defensive measures to prevent this.

Gun free zones in areas with a presence of armed guards are great, for example government buildings like the White House are constantly protected; schools are not. Perhaps that should change but the point is that areas that don’t have these security measures are far more vulnerable to a mass shooting and any other event that causes high casualties such as bombings or mass stabbings. If you are in a gun-free zone, your chances of being a mass shooting victim are insurmountably higher than in an area where gun are allowed to be carried.

Gun free zones implemented by legislation or otherwise only increase the chances of a mass shooting in that designated zone. Ten and a half percent of mass school shootings occur in schools or universities. Statistically,  public schools are at risk at for public mass shootings four and a half times as much as schools that allow teachers to carry guns because of, yes, gun control legislation on the local or federal level (Legislated Gun-free zones).

A major argument is the seemingly “common sense” argument that more guns in a particular area cause more gun deaths. It is a clearly false claim from local levels all the way to national rates of violence.

Often gun control advocates point to the large amounts of accidental deaths with guns being a major problem. While this is a problem nobody disputes, we can fix it with responsible storage and training with a firearm. The death rate for falling out of bed is more comparable to accidental gun deaths than any other statistic. Furthermore, Gun deaths caused by accidents are far less common than homicides where a gun was used. No matter the legislation that is developed in congress, you will not stop either of these. Accidents will happen despite responsible gun-owners using firearms carefully. Just as people who want to kill someone will kill someone doesn’t care about gun laws and even if you take his gun, he will kill his target in another fashion. Think knives in the case of the UK for example where long is considering “Knife control”. In fact, knives kill five times as many people as the dreaded AR-15 and other rifles combined.

On the International scale, it is true that compared to other wealthy countries, the United States has one of the highest rates of gun homicides in the world. The gun control advocates would say this is because of the massive amount of guns in the United States. There is however an inconsistency: The US is 83rd in the world out of 192 countries for homicides per 100,000 people. This is even including gang homicides. As one could infer, despite having an insanely high gun ownership rate, the US doesn’t have an overall higher violent crime rate than Lithuania, which has 7 guns per 1000 people (Which is far less ownership compared to Canada or France). The case is not that gun homicides are worse than homicides done with a knife or car. The case they are making is that guns cause more homicides which simply isn’t the case. There is a problem with homicides in the United States compared to say France, sure, but it is not the fault of guns. It is the fault of people who would kill people regardless if they had a gun or not. In fact, gangs are a far better indicator of crime rates than gun ownership rates. The United States has an apparent gang problem, having the highest gang population in the world and high gang-member-per-capita rate for a developed country which can explain the discrepancy far more accurately than gun-ownership rates.

When talking about implementing stricter gun laws in the US, Australia often comes up as a prime example.  In 1996 Australia had a mass shooting of their own, where 35 people were killed, and as a result more than 640,000 firearms were bought back from civilians, but this led to a massive firearms black market, and only 19% of civilians were apart of the illegal gun buyback.  There was a 83% increase of firearm incidents in Australia from 2005 to 2015, and the ban only created a need for criminals to acquire these firearms one way or another. Now, keep in mind, Australia has always been a relatively peaceful country with the “highest recorded murder rate over the last 11 years was 2 per 100,000”.  (https://reason.com/archives/2016/03/22/australias-gun-buyback-created-a-violent/1)

In the US, the murder rate was 4.5 per 100,000 citizens in 2014, and during this time firearm ownership was increased 50%.  The gun buyback in Australia made many gun owners hide from the government, and just like the Prohibition Act of 1919 in the US created a large black market for alcohol, Australia suffered from the same issue. The suicide rate in Australia is often used as a prime example of why the gun buyback was so efficient, “…and the firearm suicide rate fell by 65 percent, in the decade after the law was introduced”. Although yes, the firearm method of suicide dropped, the use of non-firearm suicide rocketed.  The homicide rate in Australia was increased directly after the ban, and has been at a modest decline since. Using Australia as an example for strict gun control is quite an unaccomplished tactic, considering Australian citizens can still own firearms after lengthy waiting period and can still own ammunition without restriction.

The topic of gun control in the US after mass shootings only sparks massive debates, and does not consider the rights of American citizens, or include the effects what exactly would be accomplished other than “ending school shootings”, when school shootings are already extremely rare, that catching a sickness in school or being involved in a car accident are far more likely than being involved in a school shooting.

Read the opposing view here.

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