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Imagine, you are sitting in an office on a random Wednesday. You are thinking to yourself, “wow I can’t wait to get home today to see my family. Today is killing me.” You have been in this job since you graduated college and are less than five years away from retirement. All of a sudden, two armed men with masks on storm into the office and order everyone into the middle of the office. Scared for your life, you only have seconds to react. You then remember the handgun you have stored in your desk. You have always owned this gun, but never thought the day would come where you would have to use it. Instinct kicks in at this point and you grab the gun and begin to make your way silently to the front where the armed gunmen are held up. You then see another one of your colleagues with the same plan in mind. One a count of three, you both pop up firing one shot each. Both of the gunmen hit the floor instantly. They both lie there motionless, most likely dead. 911 is then called and the situation is over. The sad reality of this situation, however, is most Americans would never have the opportunity to defuse a situation in this way. According to the NRA, only 30-34% of American adults own a gun. Most Americans in this situation would be stuck, defenseless, with two armed gunmen threatening their life. Gun control laws are necessary in some cases, but the United States needs to relax its gun laws in order to protect its citizens to the fullest extent.
The gun control debate is a very touchy subject, with school shootings such a Columbine and Sandy Hook, and terrorist attacks such as Paris in January and November becoming a part of everyday life. While there is not a shooting every day, it sure does seem like it. The country is split in half, but it should not be that way. While people would argue that the Columbine and Sandy Hook victims wish that guns were abolished, my family has a very different prospective. My dad grew up in Centennial, Colorado, and his sister and her four kids still live there. My cousins currently attend Columbine High School. Yes, the Columbine that was the place of one of the first mass shootings in the United States. While my cousins did not attend Columbine during the incident, my aunt and uncle vividly remember that horrific day. At the time, they lived less than two miles from the school. They remember hearing the gun shots, and not knowing what was going on. They took shelter with their infant children in their house. After that horrific day, details came streaming in. After all of the debate about gun control, my aunt and uncle still stick by the statement they have always believed. If teachers in that building were armed with guns, that shooting would have been stopped in its tracks. Even though they have their kids at Columbine currently, and had friends teaching at the school on that horrific day, they still stick by their belief in guns. This rationale is not shared by just my family however. Most people in that building that day believe that if certain techers had guns in that building, this tragedy could have been preveted.
There is also an argument that stricter gun laws would lower the murder rate and make the streets safer. Stricter gun laws would actually just take citizens and make them more vulnerable to a violent crime. Chicago is a great example of this. “In 1982, the city of Chicago instituted a ban on handguns. This ban barred civilians from possessing handguns except for those registered with the city government prior to enactment of the law” (Hunt vs Daley). The law also stipulated that anyone who owned a gun prior to this law has to re-register their gun every two years or the owner loses his or her right to own the gun. Common sense would say that after this law, murders in Chicago would plumment down, as the guns in Chicago are no-existent. It is quite the opposite however. “Since the outset of the Chicago handgun ban, the Chicago murder rate has averaged 17% lower than it was before the law took effect, while the U.S. murder rate has averaged 25% lower” (Chicago Police Department). While the gun ban in Chicago did lower the murder rate, it was lowered by less than the national average.
While Chicago got worse when it banned guns, most states get safer when they allow their citizens to carry guns. According to John R. Lott, Jr., PhD, author of More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws:
States with the largest increases in gun ownership also have the largest drops in violent crimes… The effect of ‘shall-issue’ concealed gun laws on these crimes where two or more people were killed has been dramatic. When states passed these laws, the number of multiple-victim shootings declined by 84 percent. Deaths from these shootings plummeted on average by 90 percent and injuries by 82 percent (Lott Jr).
Three states that best exemplify this are Texas, Michigan, and Florida. They instituted their right-to-carry laws in three different decades, but got same same general result. On July 1, 2001, Michigan’s right-to-carry law became effective. “Since the outset of the Michigan right-to-carry law, the Michigan murder rate has averaged 4% lower than it was before the law took effect, while the U.S. murder rate has averaged 2% lower” (FBI). While this is not a huge decrease, it is still a decrease. Texas implemented their right-to-carry law in January 1996 and had a very similar result to Michigan. “Since the outset of the Texas right-to-carry law, the Texas murder rate has averaged 30% lower than it was before the law took effect, while the U.S. murder rate has averaged 28% lower” (FBI). The next, and best, example of the effect of gun ownership is in the state of Florida. “On October 1, 1987, Florida’s right-to-carry law became effective. This law requires that concealed carry licensees be 21 years of age or older, have clean criminal/mental health records, and complete a firearms safety/training course. Since the outset of the Florida right-to-carry law, the Florida murder rate has averaged 36% lower than it was before the law took effect, while the U.S. murder rate has averaged 15% lower” (FBI). This is a very staggering number. Florida’s murder rate averaged twenty percent lower than the rest of the United States. A simple law will not change the murder rate however. The gun laws only work if people step up and choose to own a gun that is legal. If you look at the gun ownership in Texas and Florida, you understand how the murder rate went down. In Texas, where the murder rate was two percent lower than the national average, very few people owned guns. “In 2009, Texas had 402,914 active licensees, constituting roughly 2.4% of the state’s population that is 21 years of age or older” (U.S. Census Bureau). Florida, however, has nearly twice as many gun owners. “As of July 31, 2010, Florida had 746,430 active licensees, constituting roughly 5.4% of the state’s population that is 21 years of age or older” (U.S. Census Bureau). While the argument today is that more guns will result in more murder, Florida and Texas show a much different side.
The gun control debate does not rage on just in the United States. With the ever growing threat of terrorism, whether it be domestic or international, countries are beginning to take a stand on gun violence. Most countries take strong stands against guns, but have not gotten the results desired by these strict laws. Mexico is the best example of this because they have some of the strictest gun control laws in the world. According to a New York Times article in 2012:
Mexico has one gun store in the entire country…Mexico’s gun store is on a secure military base and customers must present a valid ID, go through a metal detector, and turn over cellphones and cameras to guards. To actually buy a gun, customers have to show proof of honest income, provide references, pass a criminal background check, prove any military duties were completed with honor, and be fingerprinted and photographed. If allowed to purchase a gun, the customer may buy only one pistol and one box of bullets (Cave).
Common sense would tell you that Mexico is one of the safest countries in the world. It is nearly impossible to acquire a gun legally, so gun murders must be few and far between. Unfortunately, this is not the case. According to the United Nations Office on Drug and Crimes (UNODC), in 2012, Mexico had 11,309 gun murders compared to the United States that had 9,146 gun homicides” (UNODC). While this does not look like a huge difference, the gun murders per capita tells a much different story. Mexico had 9.97 gun homicides per 100,000 people, while the United States had only 2.97 per 100,000 people. Even though it is nearly impossible to acquire a gun in Mexico, they have more than 3 times as many murders per person than the United States.
The gun control debate does not just reach domestic violence. While most of the debate is focused on the domestic side of gun violence, many lose sight of a much larger, much stronger, and much more dangerous threat. That threat is radical Islam groups. These groups, such as Isis, hate the West with all they have. These people would do anything to destroy the west. If we take guns away from our citizens, terror groups will have a much better chance to inflict damage. Recent events during the past three years in France have proven the threat is much more than we can ever comprehend. A great example of gun laws not containing radical Islam, was a March 6 attack. On March 1, 2012, France strengthened their gun laws once again. Five days after these laws went into effect, a French Jihadist went on a shooting spree and killed seven people. It was not until a police sniper took him out that the shooting ended. The most horrific, and most recent, example of gun laws not working was the Friday the 13th attacks in Paris. The scene is best described by Julian Pearce, a reporter who was in the concert hall at the time the shooting began.
I saw two terrorists with AK-47s entering the concert hall and start firing randomly into the crowd. It lasted for 10 minutes. 10 minutes. 10 horrific minutes where everyone was on the floor covering their heads. I heard so many gunshots. The terrorists were very calm…they reloaded their weapons three or four times. They didn’t shout anything. They didn’t say anything…They began shooting people who were on the floor…I saw 20 to 25 bodies lying on the flooring…some people were very badly injured with gunshot wounds…It was a bloodbath.
On Friday, November 13, 2015, nearly five hundred people in Paris were killed or wounded. Five hundred people had their lives changed directly due to failed gun laws. Thousands of people in the city of Paris will have nightmares for the rest of their lives due to politicians who had an agenda, not their citizens, in their minds. The worst part of these attacks was the response time of the Paris police. Due to gun laws in France, some police officers do not carry a gun. It took armed police over ten minutes to reach the concert hall. For ten whole minutes, armed terrorist with illegal guns were shooting at defenseless people. Men and women of all ages had nothing to do but pray to God that the terrorists didn’t come near them.
If the United States as a whole has paid attention to recent world events, the gun control debate would go away once and for all. Not only due countries that ban guns have higher murder rates, but states within the U.S. where guns are legal are much safer than states where they are illegal. Sadly, the biggest threat is not domestic violence, but the threat of radicals such as Isis. These terrorists will not listen to silly gun laws. Banning guns would not prevent these horrible attacks, they would only leave our great country more vulnerable. After the attacks in Paris in November, Isis released a statement in four different languages. It was a simple one, but one that should make every American go out and find a way to defend themselves. “This attack is just the start of a storm, and a warning for those who wish to draw lessons.” Nineteen words designed to warn America of what is to come. If our politicians in Washington are smart, they will everything in their power to protect Americans. In today’s world, that means allowing American citizens the right, guaranteed by the second amendment, to arm themselves with as many weapons as they feel necessary.
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