Sadly, Susan’s story is not uncommon. According to an Associated Press analysis of FBI and Florida data, an average of 760 Americans was killed between 2006 and 2014 with guns by their spouses, ex-spouses, or intimate partners (Foley, par. 6). In 2003, the American Journal of Public Health conducted an eleven-city study to identify the risk factors for women in abusive relationships. According to the study, if the abuser has access to a gun, the victim is five times more likely to be killed (Campbell 1). Susan, the domestic abuse victim, and Frank owned a 0.25 caliber semi-automatic handgun, the murder weapon, as well as several other handguns, a shotgun, and an assault rifle. Victims of domestic violence, like Susan, can be affected by a firearm without the trigger even being pulled. There is also a psychological component to gun uses in an abusive relationship. Although guns were only fired in ten percent of domestic incidents, 69% of the time it was used to intimidate or coerce the intimate partner (Jeltsen, par. 12). The effects of gun violence extend far beyond just domestic abuse cases.
Guns are the cause of numerous deaths in the United States. Every day, one hundred Americans are killed by guns and hundreds more are shot and injured (“Gun Violence in America”). Furthermore, gun violence also effects the millions of Americans who are witnesses, know the victims personally, or live in fear of being shot themselves. Although the right of private ownership of guns is ensured by the Constitution, stricter gun laws need to be implemented to reflect the advanced guns owned today. Since the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791, the reliability, accuracy, range, and affordability of guns have greatly improved. The law should evolve to remain relevant to the objects it is intended to regulate. These stricter regulations would lower gun deaths, including those caused by domestic abuse, suicide, and unintentional injuries as well as help the 71% of people, both gun owners and non-gun owners, who would feel safer when others in their communities acquire firearms (Hemenway 124). Three strategies that have been used to address gun violence will be reflected upon and two more creative solutions will be proposed.
Some have suggested that gun control programs similar to those of Britain, Australia, or Japan should be implemented. However, this strategy is not possible because of the Constitution. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms independent of lawful purposes, including self-defense within the home. This ruling invalidated extensive gun-control measures like a complete ban on handguns. Yes, this decision can be fixed if the Second Amendment is repealed, but the process for passing this amendment is extremely challenging. Rather than taking on the Constitution directly, an easier route would be to add more liberal-leaning justices on the court to discard the District of Columbia v. Heller precedent.
Another strategy that has been suggested to prevent gun violence is to require a doctor’s note to purchase a gun. Although background checks are supposed to alert sellers of this information, these records are not always reliable or available within the state and federal databases. Countries, such as India, Germany, Japan, Brazil, and Russia, already require some sort of doctor’s note before a person can own a gun. This approach has faced a lot of opposition from physicians. Lack of standards and training as well as concern over divulging private medical information has made physicians reluctant to be the final arbiters of a person’s right to purchase, own, or carry a gun.
Arming teachers is another strategy that has been used to address the problem of gun violence. Although this approach is supported by 45% of adults (Horowitz 1), it is widely criticized by experts, teachers, and school resource officers. Currently, there is no research that proves that arming teachers prevents mass school shootings. Conversely, there is plenty of research that suggests that the present of more guns in our communities leads to an increase in violence. In a school, the potential for accidental gun violence could not only put the children in danger, but also further traumatize them. This approach to ending gun violence, specifically in schools, will likely never be implemented across all of America because schools and teachers across the country have thus far strongly resisted the idea.
Strategies such as repealing the second amendment, requiring doctors’ notes, and arming teachers are messy solutions that might hurt the nation more than they would actually help. The potential benefits of these solutions are weighed down by the potential costs. These ideas would most likely be ineffective or may result in more violence, not less. The solution that leaders might employ to resolve the problem of gun violence is the closing of gaping holes in FBI gun background check system and the lifting of the ban on gun-control research.