Gun politics in the United States is mostly defined by the actions of two main groups: gun rights activists and gun control. There is a lot of disagreement between the two in regards to the interpretation of laws on guns and firearms and, the impact that gun control will have on the safety of citizens and, on the level of crime. The issue of gun control has raised so much heat and debate because of a series of incidents that have happened.
On December 2012, Adam Lanza, who was a mentally ill man, took the lives of 27 people. He had a Bushmaster AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle. The incident took place in Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut. Adams mother had legally bought him a military-grade assault gun. After this incident, the status quo on control seemed destined for change and all the public opinion laws indicated a surge in the number of people who were in favor of more fervent gun control measures (Pathe, 2013). After that Sandy Hook shooting, a bipartisan bill was crafted. The bill aimed at extending all the criminal background checks for those who wanted to purchase guns. In 2013, a Gallup poll was conducted showing that 91% of Americans were in support of a law which needed criminal background checks when selling guns to people. However, the bill was defeated in 2013 when it was presented before the senate.
In 2015, after the San Bernardino shooting in California, the bill was brought to parliament again but it was voted down again, this time having fewer votes than even in 2013. Congress has always been voting against gun control bills which have measures which the majority of the public supports. In many cases, Congress has declined to renew federal legislative measures regarding gun control that include this sunset period (Kopel, 2012).
One of the ways of tackling this issue is adopting the Australian-style intervention way; where the government rolled out many billions and bought many firearms in a bid to reduce and lower the number of firearms that the public would access. Even though this policy would face a lot of political and constitutional setbacks, it would help in tackling the problem (Vizzard, 2000). Furthermore, I think its just basic common sense that the less guns there are in circulation, the lower number of shootings that will be witnessed. I am one of the opinion that this buy-back policy can work more-so if there is implementation starting from the Federal level and trickling down to individual States.
Another method is adopting a national permit-to-purchase (PTP) policy. This policy will see it to it that anyone who wants to acquire a gun has to obtain a permit and before the permit is granted, extensive background checks have to be conducted. In 2007, Missouri repealed this policy that they had adopted and it led to an increase in the murder rate by 14%, the rate of firearm-related suicides increased by sixteen percent. This policy had also been adopted in 1995 in Connecticut and it is responsible for a reduction in the rate of firearm homicides by a margin of 40% and a reduction in the rate of firearm suicides by 15% (Pathe, 2013). Various studies have shown that this technique is especially useful in as far as preventing ex-cons from acquiring guns, granted that the method is implemented effectively. The only drawback of this technique is the fear of Substitution effect, the possibility that criminal will switch to other weapons once they are denied guns. Nonetheless, the rewards outdo the risk of this method.
Another technique would be passing laws that ensure that those who have ever been prosecuted for domestic violence are not allowed to hold guns. Some states have already adopted this policy and they have barred those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from having guns (Koper, 2013). This would go a long way in reducing the number of intimate-partner homicides, if again the implementation is efficient.
Another alternative would be banning and barring the sale of military-style assault weapons. Prohibiting the sale of high-capacity magazines should be advocated as well. However, this would need to pass through the senate for it to be enacted into a bill (Vizzard, 2000). Also the fact that Gun manufacturers have complete autonomy over how they design guns does not help in reduced shootings. The 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which gave broad immunity to gun manufacturers and dealers from liability litigation is partly to blame for this scenario. There is no regard for public health when it comes to production of guns, with this in mind I feel that it is upon each and every American to be the change that that we want in curbing gun violence..
Kopel, David B. The Great Gun Control War of the Twentieth Century and Its Lessons for Gun Laws Today. The Fordham Urban Law Journal 39, (2012): 1527-1616.
Koper, Christopher S., and Roth, Jeffrey A. (2013) The Impact of the 1994 Assault Weapons.
Pathe, Simone. Loaded Words: How Both Sides Are Using Persuasive Rhetoric about Guns.
Vizzard, William J. Shots in the Dark: The Policy, Politics, and Symbolism of Gun Control. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000.
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