The only purpose guns serve is to kill. The difficulty in purchasing a firearm off the street is little to none, and anyone can get their hands on one. Every year, millions of guns are sold to individuals in “no questions asked” transactions. Experts project that forty percent of guns sold in America go without an accurate background check. In comparison, hundreds of thousands of people in America are annually shot in, assaults, suicides, unintentional shootings, or by police intervention. The reduction of accessibility to guns should be instituted in order to reduce the rates of death, because citizens will find it difficult to have an access to these weapons, hence limit their ability to harm others or themselves. Lethal violence can prompt many citizens to believe that no place is deemed safe anymore and recent tragedies, like the Las Vegas shooting, hold up that statement. In our society today, the shootings that continually take place seem to become more gruesome and heinous, becoming more difficult to watch these appalling stories appear on the news every morning. On October 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire on the Harvest Music Festival, leaving fifty-eight people dead and over five hundred people injured. People limped with bullets in their legs, and people cried over bloodshed bodies laying on the concrete. By the end of the night, men were wearing only shoes, pants, and a hat, using everything else to stop others from bleeding. Over forty families became permanently detached by just a few gun shots. Parent lost their precious children, and children lost their parents. Friends and spouses had their final experiences with each other that night. In just a matter of seconds, the lively stadium instantly became the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. Too often it seems that as a nation, we give little consideration towards existing problems until they end in tragedy- this should not be the way of life. We might wonder what culture we live in where it is possible for a man to hole up in a hotel room with ten rifles and not be previously known to police – probably a deeply broken one. A culture that believes a private citizen should even be allowed to own one assault weapon is a broken culture. Most Americans hold that it is the right of any law-abiding adult to own a firearm. Puffed up on “freedom” and “rights,” they argue that the actions of a few should not restrict the desires of the many, even if the desire in question involves carrying a concealed handgun into the grocery store. They live in a society unnecessarily steeped in fear and their right to own a gun should not outweigh the fact that there are mass shootings almost every day each year. If there is one thing we could do to save a life, do we not have a responsibility to do so? Over forty thousand Americans die every year, leaving tens of thousands more injured. Can you imagine how many restrictions on our rights we would welcome if terrorists were killing forty thousand of us a year? The fact that it is easier to get guns, the easier it is for people to get killed. In 2013, a researcher from Boston University School of Public Health studied the many different variables that contributed to the correlation of gun-related homicides and gun ownership. The results proved the “1 percent increase in gun ownership correlated with a roughly 0.9 percent rise in the firearm homicide rate at the state level” (Lopez 2015). America has a lethal violence problem that is hugely driven by gun availability and we all know it. Imagine if we could prevent all of the lives of gun homicide and suicide victims. Imagine if we did not have to pay the billions of dollars we spend every year treating gunshot victims. Imagine if the police did not kill the many people they do every year because they are trained to believe that anyone who looks remotely harming might be about to shoot them. Imagine living in our country with much less of that fear and grief. The Gun Owners Foundation says that guns protect more lives than they take and prevent more injuries than they inflict. However, that statement is very untrue. Statistics say that there is “one justifiable killing for every 32 murders, suicides, or accidental deaths” (Martelle 2015). For every time a gun is used in self-defense, there are many more shootings that are not. Secondly, it is true that Chicago, a city with very strict gun laws, has a high level of gun violence. However, Chicago’s case does not support restrictive gun laws being incompetent for society. Instead, it demonstrates the need for more widespread laws. People who want guns can easily drive a small distance outside of Chicago, obtain them with ease, and bring them back into the city. Most of the guns used in criminal activities came from a single store located just a few miles outside of Chicago. Thirdly, there have been many different arguments about the Second Amendment that 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” (U.S. Const. amend. II). People in favor of guns say that it is their right to own and carry a weapon. Although the Second Amendment does indeed state “the right to keep and bear arms,” it has been taken out of context. According to the Supreme Court, the amendment granted state militias a right to bear arms, not give individuals an authority to carry a weapon. The last thing we need is an inexperienced person handling a firearm and not knowing the basic safety precautions of it. No matter what legislation might pass, even in liberal states that have already increased restrictions in recent years, we will not get anywhere near banning guns completely. Mainly because we cannot start from scratch, all we can do is trim around the edges and try to find ways to reduce the unending slaughter a bit at a time. The right to own a firearm is not absolute and its practice should depend on an individual meeting several important criterias. The individual must pass a criminal and mental health background check along with a required safety course. They must also display competency with a firearm demonstrated through a skills test, agree to a regular renewal requirement, and must have some form of gun liability insurance. Also, the minimum age requirement to be able to own a gun should be at least twenty-five. This grants individuals who are actually competent to own or use firearms for both sport and self-defense, connect the right to own a firearm with the ability to properly and sensibly use it. This would allow a higher chance for each individual gun owner to be responsible, which means fewer people will die from gun violence. Guns were originally given to us for protection, not for killing other people, which is what we are beginning to protect ourselves from. How many more people have to die before we realize we need stricter gun laws? If we could save at least one person just by limiting the amount of guns in circulation, would it not be worth it? Finding the perfect solution would be near impossible, but we can start small with national background checks and tougher sentencing laws. By then, we can all change our perspectives for the better. The death rate statistics alone should be enough for citizens to stand up and fight for what is right. No one deserves to die in such a lethal manner. Society is always changing in the slightest ways and if we can find a way to pour good into society little by little, change will happen right before our own eyes.
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