On October 1, 2017, 58 people were killed and 546 were injured when a gunman opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon equipped with a bump stock from a hotel suite in Las Vegas.
On June 12, 2016, 49 people were killed and 58 were wounded when Omar Mateen took firearms onto the property of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza took firearms into an elementary school and killed 20 children, between the ages of 6 and 7. He also killed six staff members at the school.
On July 20, 2012, James Holmes took firearms into a movie theater during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises and killed 12 people and injured another 58 more. 12 additional injuries occurred during the response to the shooting.
On April 20, 1999, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris brought firearms to their high school and killed 13 people before taking their own lives.
The history of mass shootings in the United States is one that tells a dark chapter. In 1873, a group of white citizens in Louisiana killed and hung up to 150 African-American citizens. In 1890, US soldiers took machine guns into a Lakota village and killed 200 men, women, and children. In 1921, white citizens in Tulsa set African-American neighborhoods on fire and then shot at those who fled, killing upwards of 300 people.
It’s long overdue to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of gun control in a meaningful way. Here are some of the key points to think about.
List of the Advantages of Gun Control
1. Most mass shootings in the US come from legally purchased firearms.
Mother Jones reviewed over 70 mass shootings in the United States that covered more than 3 decades of incidents. They discovered that in nearly 75% of the incidents they looked at, the firearms used to take lives were legally purchased. By creating more restrictions on legal purchases, it may be possible to reduce the number of mass casualty incidents that occur.
2. Having access to a gun increases the risk of violence.
According to a 2004 study by Linda Dahlberg, simply having a firearm in a home increases the risk of a homicide or a suicide occurring. That increase remains no matter how many guns are owned or how safely they are locked in a gun safe. The New England Journal of Medicine published a study by Arthur Kellerman that shows people living in a home face a risk of homicide that is 40 times higher than people in a home without a firearm. The risk of a firearm-related suicide is 90 times higher when a gun is in a home.
3. People who shouldn’t own guns can still purchase them.
Private-sale exemptions exist under US law that do not require a background check on the individual. The Brady Bill states that private sellers can sell a firearm to an unlicensed resident of the state where they live as long as they do not know or have a reasonable cause to believe that person should be prohibited from owning a firearm. Although some state laws have closed this loophole, it is still possible for people who are restricted from owning firearms to still purchase one. Gun control legislation could stop this from happening.
4. Gun control does not require confiscation.
There is a right to bear arms for self-defense in the United States, protected by state laws and the Constitution. The US Supreme Court has struck down handgun restriction laws because of this right. Gun control doesn’t need to involve confiscation or restriction. Something as simple as licensing and requiring an understanding of how to use it could reduce gun violence. Funds could even be set aside so that licensing and safety classes are low-cost or free.
5. It could reduce accidental injuries.
Unintentional shootings caused the deaths of over 600 people in 2010. From 2005-2010, more than 1,300 people who were the victim of an unintentional shooting were under the age of 25. Over 30% of unintentional deaths caused by firearms could be prevented by the addition of a loading indicator and a childproof safety lock. Even in gun control legislation included safety measures alone, lives could be saved.
List of the Disadvantages of Gun Control
1. Gun control legislation would likely create a black market.
If someone wants to own a gun, they’re going to own one. That is a pretty basic principle that applies to legal and illegal gun owners. Gun control legislation attempts to create more safety by creating more loops for legal owners to jump through to own a firearm. There will always be people who steal firearms or alter information on background checks to circumvent laws. Gun control legislation would likely create a separate black market for ownership for those who simply want a self-defense option.
2. Fewer guns doesn’t change the condition of the heart.
Gun control laws have arguably caused gun violence incidents to reduce around the world, but alternative weapons are still used to commit crime. Knife attacks, vehicle attacks, and homemade explosives can do just as much damage as a gun can, and in some instances more damage, when put into the right hands.
3. Most gun-related deaths in the US are from suicides, not homicides.
Out of the 10,000+ firearm-relate deaths that occur every year in the United States, more than 7,000 of them are suicides. That data point shows a need to improve access to mental health services, community supports, and other resources that can help people in crisis.
4. People fear guns because they don’t understand them.
Guns are often feared not because of what they can do, but because of what they represent to an individual. Most people own a firearm because they use it as a tool or for a sport. By getting to know a firearm and learning how to use it responsibly, being around a gun doesn’t need to be a fearful experience.
5. It won’t change the value of a human life.
Gun violence occurs because there is a lack of respect for the value of human life. Arguments devolve into violence because of an emotional reaction. Gangs use gun violence as a way to establish territorial control because they feel like their lives aren’t being valued. Some might say gun violence is a heart problem, but it is a value problem. The US Constitution speaks of equality for all. That should be what is addressed instead of a person’s access to firearms.
The advantages and disadvantages of gun control are divisive. Some see them as controversial. Others see it as a pointless conversation. The bottom line is this: every person offers an important perspective that deserves to be shared. Our stories, combined with the proven facts about guns and firearm violence, can lead us toward the right course of action.
How do you feel about the idea of gun control?