Is Gun Control Necessary?

On October 1st 2015, a student at Umpqua Community College, Oregon, fatally shot a teacher and eight fellow students Just four months earlier, a white supremacist gunman killed nine African-Americans at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina

And in 2012, during one of America’s deadliest massacres, 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 20 children and 6 members of staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut America is, by far, the most prominent gun-possessing nation on the planet, collectively owning almost 300 million firearms Approximately 30,000 people are killed by firearms every year in America, with black Americans more than twice as likely to die from gun violence than whites From 2012 to 2015, 1,260 of these deaths were the result of mass shootings But firearm advocators strongly protest having their weapons taken away from them

They claim that they have a constitutional right to defend their families and that gun control would endanger, rather than save, lives A 2010 survey of firearm ownership shows that 40-45% of American households are in possession of a gun, used predominantly for self-defense, hunting and sporting activities Alan Gottlieb, member of the ‘Second Amendment Foundation’, believes that this weaponry is a force for good He argues that, ‘on average, guns save 2,191 lives a year and are used to thwart crimes every day’ However, research shows that having a gun in the house increases an individual’s risk of death from homicide by between 40 and 170 percent

Many firearm campaigners claim that there is an ulterior motive behind gun laws Larry Pratt, executive director of ‘Gun Owners of America’, suggests that gun control is a step towards despotism and a ‘big brother’ state He believes that stricter legislation will limit the civilian population’s ability to resist an armed government Some controversial conspiracy theorists like Jay Johnson even argue that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax, designed to pressure the public into agreeing to a government plot for anti-gun regulations However, there is no solid proof supporting Johnson’s allegations

Gun control cynics also question whether attempts to criminalize firearms would not only fail, but also possibly result in disaster In the 1920s, the 18th Amendment prohibited the sale and production of alcohol throughout America But these anti-alcohol laws were widely ignored, and the legislation even led to a growth in illicit and dangerous trade The National Bureau of Economic Research found that alcohol consumption remained at 60 to 70 percent of its pre-prohibition level Prohibition was repealed by the 21st Amendment in 1933

The consequences of gun laws could therefore be very similar Sarah Palin contends that ‘…criminals don’t follow laws and restricting America’s freedoms when it comes to self-defense isn’t the answer’ But pro-gun-control lobbyists point to other countries for examples of successful gun laws At the beginning of the 1990s in Australia, there were at least 60 fatalities from gun violence every year In 1996, 35 people were killed at the historic tourist sight of Port Arthur

This was the catalyst that sparked the radical implementation of stricter gun regulations This led to the surrendering of more than 640,000 firearms nationwide, over the course of a single year A 2012 survey conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime found that, annually, there were only 30 homicides by firearm in Australia This represents 014 deaths per 100,000 people

In contrast, America saw 9,146 homicides during the same period, or 297 gun-related murders for every 100,000 people Statistics from the United Kingdom show a similar trend In 1996, 16 children and 1 teacher were fatally shot at a primary school in Dunblane, Scotland Since then, much harsher gun regulations have been implemented

Annual deaths resulting from firearms have declined from 247 to 146 20 states have already implemented limited gun control, banning some types of guns and expanding background checks Investigations by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence highlighted a correlation between these states and lower gun crime statistics For example, in 2013, Louisiana was noted as having the weakest firearm legislation, and also the second highest number of gun deaths Despite this resounding evidence, Congress is still reluctant to implement gun control

Is there a darker reason behind this? Americans spend approximately $6 billion every year on guns and ammunition This has created about 209,750 jobs Weakening this industry could seriously damage America’s economy This $33 billion industry rests on the shoulders of passionate pro-firearm activists In 2014, anti-control activists spent over $12 million on lobbying

Pro-gun control activists donated just $27 million While the debate surrounding gun control continues to rage, the lives of US citizens remain at risk

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