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Few topics provide more polarising opinions and heated debates than the topic of gun control in the USA. Established in December 1791, 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’¹. For most of the republics relatively brief history (1791 onwards), US citizens have had the right and ability to purchase guns freely, compared to most other first world countries.
The purpose of the second amendment is to protect the US population from tyrannical governments and street thugs. It must be remembered that the former British colony only had been independent from their past overlords for just over 12 years, and the fear of being enslaved and exploited by a corrupt organisation was rife among the American populace. This right to bear arms may have been essential in the 18th century colonial world, where Americas power was dwarfed by major colonial powers such as the British and French empires, however the modern globalist world (Where Americas military and economic power seems unchecked) may make this amendment redundant. Recent atrocities, such as: Sandy Hook (27 killed), Virginia Tech (32 killed) and The Harvest Music Festival (58 killed), has brought a wave of outraged people suggesting a reform of the second amendment is long overdue. The predominantly Democratic left takes the stance that the second amendment is outdated, and either all guns should be banned, higher calibre and semi-automatic guns should be banned, or more rigorous background checks should be imposed so that guns are not given into the hands of potential mass shooters. However, the Mainly Republican right, blames the mental health of shooters for these massacres and the actions of a few psychopaths should not restrict law abiding citizens from their right to bear arms. The one thing all Americans can agree on is that somehow, the seemingly regular massacres of innocents must be stopped.
The US is home to the most mass shootings in the world. America’s uncommon gun culture has resulted in a country where more of the nation’s population are killed by fellow citizens with guns than in any other high-income nation in the entire world³. ‘Americans own 42% of the estimated 650 million civilian owned guns worldwide, according to the Congressional Research service 2012’. The distinct correlation between America owning the most civilian guns, whilst also experiencing the most mass shooting in the world, surely shows the US government must act somehow. Whether it’s tightening on gun control, banning guns or tackling mental health problems, something must be done to contain this epidemic. The recent appointment of the right-wing, Republican, President Donald Trump, seems to suggest that second amendment will not be tampered with for the foreseeable future. Does the second amendment protect the US population from the potential of a tyrannical government wishing to enslave them or will it simply provide mass murders with the tools to commit atrocities.
Prospect Magazine suggests that America needs to ‘grow up and ban guns’ as ‘an adult, civilised society does not consider it necessary for a private citizen to own an assault rifle’. The article uses the example of the Las Vegas mass shooting where just a single man ‘opened fire from a hotel window into a vast crowd of concert-goers, killing over 50 and injuring more than 400’. Straight away this fact shows the absolute carnage guns can inflict upon innocent civilians. The fact that only one man could endanger the life of hundreds of people in the space of minutes is a terrifying prospect. The gunman, Stephen Paddock (A local 64-year-old man) had over 10 rifles in his possession. To think that a civilian needs more than ten rifles just for himself is ludicrous. The second amendment states that ‘right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed’, however the whole point of the second amendment is to protect the American people from danger. How can allowing one man to own more than 10 rifles for personal be safe?
Many US citizens have arsenals which could adequately equip a small army. Surely, it would be beneficial if the government placed a restriction on the number of guns one person can own. Personally, I don’t feel as strongly against the right to bear arms as the source does, since I believe in the American citizens rights to bear arms. Although, the fact brought up about the large collection of weaponry some people own, concerns me and seems totally unnecessary. Personally, I suggest that the US government should introduce restrictions in the number of guns the average American can own. There is absolutely no recreational purpose or need for anyone except a licensed guns sales man to own over 3 guns. The facts provided by the magazine show that Mr. Paddock owned all his guns legally. This fact alone shows that the second amendment doesn’t protect the safety of the American populace as a man was legally allowed to acquire a more than abundant arsenal which can cause the worst atrocity in US history. He is proof of the fact the government can’t be certain that someone will not use guns illegally and to cause harm to innocents. Paddock was licensed to own guns, showed no signs of mental illness and was a responsible gun owner. Paddock most likely could have committed the atrocity if he was restricted to buying only a few guns, but he would never of been able to inflict as much damage if he had less weapons.
The Telegraph states that ‘If more guns really made you safer, America would be one of the safest places in the world’⁶. This point is very valid, since the whole objective of the second amendment is to protect the people and to empower them so that they don’t have to live their lives feeling intimidated or controlled. Yet it seems like every other week an atrocity occurs in America. The counter argument that guns can be used to stop the perpetrators is redundant to me. When you look into the accounts and reports of these horrific events, it’s almost always the case that the police or special services stop the shooters. The very thought of untrained civilians rushing into a war-zone like area is chaotic. The last thing we need in a modern democratic nation is vigilantes shooting at criminals. Personally, I believe we should leave this duty to the professionals so that less lives are endangered, and the chance of rescuing innocents is higher. An untrained person with a gun attempting to stop a shooter endangers the lives of the innocents. Also, the article states that ‘seven children or teenagers are shot dead on average every day’. Anyone being harmed is reason enough to take action against the loosely restrictive gun laws, however the fact that 7 innocent children/teenagers are shot per day is a nightmare scenario for any decent human being, let alone a parent. Parents now feel scared to let their children go to school in case of a school shooting occurs,]emphasizing how desperately the second amendment is in need of amendment. Children should never be in danger whilst at school. School is a place of learning and education, where safety of the children is essential. It’s true that it takes a monster to commit a school shooting, however there are thousands of psychopaths in society who will commit school shootings. Since 2009 there has been 288 school shootings in the USA. The entire G7 (The countries with the largest advanced economies in the world) has had 57 times less school shootings. Since 2009: Canada has had 2 school shootings, France 2, Germany 1 and Japan, Italy and the UK have had 0. All these countries are very similar in all aspects of society and law. Except one country who doesn’t have restrictive and strict gun laws. Can you guess which country? This clearly shows that there’s a clear link between free gun laws and school shootings. To me this signifies that the second amendment must be altered and become more restrictive.
Huffpost, writes ‘gun suicides account for nearly two-thirds of all gun deaths, a percentage that has been steadily climbing each year’⁸. You could argue that these people are mentally ill and even without access to a gun they will just use alternative methods of suicide. However, this is not the case. Most people think that suicide through a self-inflicted gun wound is the most painless and quickest form of suicide. If these mentally ill people did not have access to a gun, suicide rates would fall since it would become harder for people to kill themselves, and people would fear using other methods of suicide (e.g. overdose) through fear of it not being successful or even painful. The NRA refuses to admit that suicide has a correlation with gun violence. ‘Suicide is never mentioned in the phony safety campaigns’, thus showing that the US Government doesn’t even acknowledge the vast effect, that free access to guns in America has on the suicide rate. This oblivious attitude to facts among the avid second amendment supporters, who claim facts like this is simply ‘fake news’ is the reason why the gun problem in America is so gigantic. How is it possible, that mentally ill people can acquire guns? This is a recipe for disaster. Its no coincidence that that gun suicide rates are lower in North-eastern states, where gun laws are more restrictive. Obviously, an increase in treatment for mental health would be the best solution to prevent these suicides, however, it would also be beneficial if the access to guns were restricted for mentally ill people. I believe that someone who wants to purchase a gun must pass background and mental health checks. Massachusetts has the lowest rate of gun violence of all states, but it’s also known as a state with strong gun control laws.
We have to remember that the second amendment was adopted in 1791. Now we live in the 21st century, it should be about time that adjust these old laws to the modern climate. The 2nd Amendment and the ‘Right to bear arms’ was only introduced to prevent others from entering private land and committing crime when the law was not so established across the vast planes of America as it is today since it was only a new fledgling post-colonial state. ‘In 2008, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there were…roughly 251 police per 100,000 residents’¹⁰. So surely this amendment is no longer necessary. If a criminal wanted a weapon and guns were illegal, they could simply just buy one off a criminal associate. Surely? However, if such weapons were banned, motivation will fall as the potential criminal would have to go through many black and illegal markets, which are maybe unreachable due to their lack of contacts. Why does anyone need a semi-automatic weapon to kill an intruder? Isn’t a small calibre pistol enough? In summary, the idea of needing to possess a gun, is an outdated concept. We no longer live in the 18th century, so maybe Americans should stop living as people who lived in the 18th century and adjust the second amendment to 21st century life.
You don’t try to add to a problem in order to solve it. For example, you don’t throw more petrol onto a fire to try and stop a fire. Guns are responsible for over 31,000 deaths in America. In Britain, due to highly restrictive gun laws, there are only a mere 35 people killed each year from guns. Also, the 2nd Amendment applies to militias, not civilians. According to the Week Magazine, studies show that there are more cases in which people are killed by guns than saved by civilians with guns. More studies support that when you have more restrictive and tight gun regulations that there will be lower rates crime. For example, in Hawaii, there are 16 laws against guns. There, there are less than 3 per 100,000 gun death a year. It is very easy to gain access to a firearm that could potentially cause a shooting. If you allow a mentally conflicted person to own a firearm, as seen in various mass US shootings, they can easily cause mass damage to innocent civilians. If that mentally unstable person didn’t have access to a firearm, then that mass shooting wouldn’t have taken place. More studies, according to Time Magazine, say that it would take more intense training than a police officer to take down a killer with a gun in a public area.
Therefore, the idea of possessing a firearm is dangerous since more than likely it will result in civilians being caught in the crossfire. I think we can all agree it’s best to leave stopping shooters to the trained and experienced professionals.
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