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There seems to be an epidemic of gun violence in this country, however it is not caused by “assault rifles”. Every time a shooting occurs both sides of the political spectrum begin the arguments for and against gun control, with neither side willing to budge on the issue. Phrases like “common sense gun control” are almost always brought up. But what is common sense gun control, and does gun control really work? No one can ever seem to agree on anything.
Neither side wants to budge, and extremists on both sides are doing nothing for the cause. To solve the issue of gun violence in America, both sides of the coin must be looked at. Our inalienable rights of the 2nd amendment, and the protection of our youth and preventing violence in the streets and schools of America.
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.
That is the opening of our 2nd amendment and it is arguably the most debated topics of our time. Both sides of the political spectrum will argue this for the rest of the foreseeable future. Democrats and Republicans will begin to argue about gun control immediately following a tragedy, before the bodies even get cold, and loved ones have had time to grieve we have arguments flaring up about what could have prevented this from happening. But what is meant when common sense gun control measures are brought up?
A look at the numbers for gun violence in America shows that there have been over 33,000 firearm related deaths in America.
That is an overwhelming number, however when you break it down two-thirds of this number is related to suicide. There are also factors such as defensive gun use, police intervention, gang violence and justifiable homicides which are lumped into that number of 33,000. Mass shootings are only a small percentage of that 33,000 and assault rifles are used in an even smaller percentage.
Defensive gun use is something which has not been studied all that much, due to blocks from the left and right, and funding, however it is estimated that guns are used defensively between five hundred thousand and three million times. That is a large estimation, but it is all that is out right now as per the CDC. Now that is not considering if a shot was fired or the mere sight of the firearm was enough to prevent an attack, which is sometimes all it takes for a violent offender to flee.
Bill Clinton introduced an assault weapons ban in response to the mass shooting at Luby’s in 1993. This assault weapons ban had little effect on overall crime however studies have shown. In 2003, a study was conducted by “The task force on community preventative services” and they had determined that there was insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of the assault weapons ban. In 2004 a study was conducted by the National research council and they had determined that the assault weapons ban “did not reveal any clear impacts on gun violence out comes”. This is largely due to the fact when you look at gun violence, a small percentage is due to mass shootings in which an ar-15 was used.
Common sense gun measures are often brought up after mass shootings. But what are they? You often hear that banning of ar-15’s would alleviate much of the gun violence which is plaguing our country, but what is an ar-15? AR stands for armalite rifle, not assault rifle which so many seem to believe. An ar-15 is based off the military version of the m16 or m4 variants. It is not an assault rifle since it does not have select fire capability, it is a semi-automatic rifle which fires the 5.56×45 NATO or the .223 Remington. This rifle has been produced since 1954 and was called the “most beloved and the most vilified rifle in the united states” by the New York times. It is the most vilified, by far. In response to the massacre at Sandy Hook, governor Andrew Cuomo introduced the Safe act which banned rifles due to their features. However, he did not ban the mini 14 which operates almost identical to the ar-15. The Ny safe act did nothing to curb the gang violence plaguing New York city, it more focused on the aesthetics of the firearms themselves.
Chicago is an example of somewhere that has strict gun control and a soaring homicide rate. As per Madhani (2018) on August 6th, 2018 over 72 were shot and 13 murdered, in one of the deadliest weekends in Chicago. In 2016 Chicago had 785 murders as per McLaughlin (2017) and Chicago also has quadruple the homicide rate of New York city, and double the amount of homicides as los Angeles. Baltimore is another example of gun control not correlating with a decrease in homicides or violent crime, 2015 was Baltimore’s deadliest year with 344 murders. Both Chicago and Baltimore have strict gun laws but still have a massive homicide rate. Restricting access to certain types of firearms will not solve the gun violence issue in America, as was shown during the assault weapons ban of the nineties.
Although the common occurrence in mass shootings seems to be the ar15, handguns are used in more homicides then ar15s and restricting the access of the ar15 did not stop the Santa Fe school shooter since he used a pump action shotgun and a .38 revolver to commit his act of horror. Those are two firearms which no one has ever suggested banning, and yet someone was still able to commit a horrific act with them.
How as a nation can we curb gun violence, and simultaneously respect the inalienable rights of the 2nd amendment? That is the question which will be debated until the end of time. Gun owners and the national rifle association will have to compromise and agree to certain things, like expanded background checks. Both sides of the political spectrum need to agree on things, not only protecting the 2nd amendment, but also doing something to curb the gun violence in our streets and in our classrooms. Whether it be better mental health capabilities, armed school safety officers or universal background checks, compromise needs to happen.
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