Why Gun Possession in the US Does More Harm than Good


Sydney Rubin, Staff Writer

The devastating reality is this: citizens in our country have become almost completely desensitized to mass shootings. With mass shooting after mass shooting, it is obvious that something needs to change; innocent people can not continue to die. To me, the answer seems obvious: legislation regarding gun control needs to happen, and it needs to happen now. But, to those who oppose gun control, they see it as an unacceptable solution that infringes upon personal liberties and defies the democratic principles that this country was founded upon. To those people I ask…how many people need to die before you recognize that gun possession is no longer protecting us, but hurting us instead?

When the topic of gun control surfaces, many who support gun rights turn to the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment guarantees, “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.” Personally, I have trouble recognizing how the Second Amendment protects people from government interjection regarding their ability to own guns, for two separate reasons.

First, the Second Amendment was ratified in order to guarantee that the government had limited control over militias and never grew too powerful; never was it the intention to grant individuals the right to own and use guns for personal issues such as self defense.

Second, during 1791 (the year that the Bill of Rights was adopted), firearms looked incredibly different: most of them needed to be reloaded after each shot, and could fire a maximum of three shots per minute. Obviously, firearms differ immensely in 2017, as some semi-automatic weapons are capable of firing hundreds of times a minute. What I cannot fathom is how an extraordinarily outdated law from 1791 is defining the legality of guns and gun protection today, when the context in which that law is being executed could not possibly be more different.

At the moment, the United States prevails as the country with the highest gun-to-civilian ratio, currently averaging about 88.8 firearms per 100 people according to the Small Arms Survey, a research project run by a Swiss university.  The United States also leads the world in mass shootings, defined by the Congressional Research Service as any shooting that kills four or more random victims in a public place.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to identify this pattern; it’s obvious that this isn’t mere coincidence. These continuous mass shootings are a product of the excessive number of guns present in the United States!”

When asked to comment on mass shootings and gun control, many Republicans in the public eye insist that the two (gun ownership and mass shootings) are not correlated, and that there is nothing the government can do to solve the tragic reality. Specifically, Texas Senator Ted Cruz claimed that, “Sadly, violence will always be part of our lives.” How is it that Cruz, a man who was elected in order to help better this country and make it safer, is refusing to even try to solve one of the country’s most prominent issues?

If anyone wants proof that enforcing stricter gun protection laws will limit the number of gun-related crimes and mass shootings, just take Australia as an example. In 1996, Australia experienced their most tragic mass shooting, in which killed 35 people and another 23 wounded. Soon after, legislation was passed limiting citizens’ right to own guns. Since that horrific event, there has not been a single mass shooting in all of Australia, compared to the 18 they experienced in the two decades prior to the gun restriction legislation.  

In a November 17 editorial, Round Table Opinion Editor Aaron Patashnik deemed it critical to provide help for those suffering from mental illnesses, as these are the people who are contributing the most to gun-related deaths. I absolutely agree that this is crucial. However, how is it that people with mental disorders are able to acquire a firearm in the first place? Clearly they shouldn’t be.

In our country, an individual looking to buy a gun through a gun shop is required to go through an FBI regulated background check. However, individuals can easily obtain guns without going through a background check by utilizing something known as the “gun show loophole.” The gun show loophole is a piece of federal law that allows an individual to buy a gun from a secondary seller (like one you would find at a gun show) without going through any prior background check. To be exact, the law states, “any person may sell a firearm to an unlicensed resident of the state where they reside, as long as they do not know or have reasonable cause to believe the person is prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms.” Call me crazy, but expecting people to openly divulge their mental illnesses to secondary sellers is not only completely unrealistic, but also wildly unreliable.

It is difficult to grasp the extreme extent to which gun violence and mass shootings are out of control in this country. Allow me to try to put it in perspective. In 2017 alone, there have been 11 mass shootings in the United States; since 1997 (including 2017) there have been 74. These numbers are staggering, especially when compared to countries such as Japan and Australia (zero mass shootings since 1997) or even Germany and Switzerland (three mass shootings each). Between the Sandy Hook shooting in December 2012 and June of 2015, there have been 122 school shootings, leaving a total of 94 people injured and 34 dead.

It is not only mass shootings that are a direct result of the country’s lack of gun control; the number of firearm homicides in the United States is appalling as well. According to a 2017 study by the CDC, 11,008 out of 15,872 homicides in the United States had a firearm as the murder weapon.

I doubt anyone would argue that these numbers are unacceptable; still, though, many people are wildly against tighter gun control – and unwilling to budge. They make claims like, “Guns don’t kill people – people kill people.” Although there is some truth to this statement, it doesn’t excuse the reality that guns make killing – and especially killing in appalling numbers – so much easier. The country needs to make it a priority to preserve as many lives as possible and keep its citizens in the safest conditions, and allowing citizens to shoot 600 rounds a minute is not the best way to do that.