On January 25, 2016, President Barack Obama put into place his strategy on how to deter gun violence through executive action. Obama’s implementation of regulations that promote stricter gun control is a step in the right direction for the future of gun safety in the United States.
The uprising of gun violence caused by the laxity of gun control laws and lack of preventive measures has long needed to be addressed. President Obama’s measures focus on expanding federal background checks as well as increasing mental health treatment. Violent shootings in Charleston, San Bernardino and Colorado Springs have brought an immense media coverage to the issue, and this executive order came as a response to these and many other mass shootings that have clouded headlines in recent news.
Obama also stressed placing a greater importance in obtaining a complete and accurate criminal and mental health history of gun-buyers so that the checks can be completed in a thorough manner and decrease the chance of error in the system. This development in gun control policy is extremely beneficial because it will deny criminals and people with mental disorders of any chance to slip through the system and obtain a lethal weapon.
This action, however, is not enough in context of the issue. In addition to Obama’s executive order, the government must further control and monitor the flow of gun sales and trade throughout the country, even if it is faced with a large backlash from certain groups of Americans.
According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, every day in the United States approximately 297 people, of all ages, are killed due to any form of gun violence ranging from murder to suicide. Of those 297 men, women and children, 31 people are murdered. These are innocent people, many who are simply at the wrong place at the wrong time, but this violence must be stopped by implementing tougher gun control laws.
One of the outlying factors for the increase in gun violence in the US is the widespread poverty. Neither side of the gun control debate are willing to admit this, but the low prices of guns make them an ideal weapon for a destitute individual who has no regard for the law.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) keeps track of gun-related deaths in each state and have compiled these data points into a recent study. Their study showed that eight out of the ten states with the highest rate of gun violence had a poverty rate of over 15.8%, the national average. This discrepancy in the annual income in many poverty-stricken communities has led a greater need for these individuals to resort to crime with whatever weapon is the cheapest. Guns have been the answer for many of these individuals.
For example, a 12 gauge shotgun costs about $20 to manufacture if all the pieces are bought individually. Compared to its retail price of $200, this is an incredibly low price for such a volatile object, and this must be brought to light. If the government can control the supply of common gun materials, many gun can be prevented from going into the wrong hands.
Many proponents of lesser gun control cite the Second Amendment and self-defense as the main reasons for a greater need for easily accessible guns. Although these are valid responses to the gun control debate, the sheer facts say otherwise. The government needs to strictly monitor and control gun sales in order to prevent thousands of shooting deaths brought upon by lenient gun policies proposed by the Republican party.
A study released by the Violence Policy Center (VPC) found that of the 8,342 murders by guns, only 258 deaths were considered justifiable by the law. That is a miniscule 3.1% of all gun-related deaths that related to self-defense. In no stretch of the imagination can the claim of self-defense be a reasonable argument for the need to lessen gun control laws.
“Purchasing a gun may help enrich the firearms industry, but the facts show it is unlikely to increase your personal safety,” VPC’s executive director, Josh Sugarmann, said in a statement. “In fact, in a nation of more than 300 million firearms, it is striking how rarely guns are used in self-defense.”
The Second Amendment is a much trickier argument to dispute, and many passionate pro-gun activists have taken it up as their major reason for the minimization of gun control policies. The Second Amendment states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Not only is this phrasing somewhat ambiguous, the complicated wording can leave many interpretations for whom this amendment was created for.
It uses the phrase “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” to imply that this is an individual right, but it also say “a well regulated Militia” which could also imply an army or police force. The ambiguity and general confusion over the Second Amendment will forever cloud the gun control debate, and unless it is seriously reworded or cleared up by the Supreme Court, it will still be an important document in favor of minimizing gun control.
Although 259 people a year, on average, owe their lives to their legally-owned guns, over 200,000 guns are stolen from houses through burglaries and put into the hands of criminals. These same criminals will misuse their firearms and kill over 8,000 people a year. The statistics not only show the lethality of firearms, but also should make the general public push for stricter gun control laws.
President Obama has started in the journey to stricter gun laws through his Executive Order, but the people of the United States must understand the political aspect of this and stop supporting gun lobbyist groups, like the NRA, who only fund the supply of guns and increase the severity of this critical issue. The NRA, and many other businesses in the gun industry sponsor politicians, especially conservative ones, in their efforts to slow down gun control laws that could have an impact on their business. These companies are putting their personal greed over the lives of thousands of innocent Americans who die every year from these companies’ negligence. By denouncing companies and groups publically, people can make a difference and truly stop the resistance to gun control policies that are only making America safer.