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Critical Analysis of the Issues of Gun Violence and Its Control

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Gun violence stands for usage of guns in an attempt to harm someone or cause any sort of casualty intentionally or unintentionally. The discussions with regard to the ownership of firearms and proposals for combating gun violence have been largely controversial and have amassed divided public opinions as well as conflicting constitutional claims. In an attempt to tackle this problem, conflicting interpretations of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (“the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”) should be taken into account.

There are nearly 200 million guns in private hands as a part of recreation (hunting and target shooting) but are now being used against people during commission or defense against crime. Advocates for firearm possession consider them an important source of protection while control advocates condemn them for the damage they do in the hands of criminals. The data collected from various research surveys illustrate the scale of the problem. According to a research by Politifact there have been 1,516,863 gun-related deaths on US soil since 1968 until 2015, compared with the 1,396,733 war deaths that include revolutionary war, The Mexican war, the civil war(Union and Confederate), the Spanish-American war, the first world war, the second world war, the Korean war, the Vietnam war, the Gulf war, the Afghanistan war, the Iraq war along with other conflicts in other countries including Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Somalia and Haiti. Out of the 33,000 gun violence deaths that take place each year, about 500 (1.5%) are a result of mass shootings. Suicides cause two-third deaths. [1] [2] [3] [4].

As per the data validated until 19th of February, 2018, for the year 2018 there have been 7,168 incidents related to gun violence out of which 1,984 have caused deaths whereas 3,434 have caused fatal injuries. Out of these, 34 of them have been cases of mass violence which has seen an upward trend over the years. [5] Currently, the right to keep and bear arms in the United States is protected by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which has remained to be largely debatable by various sections of the crowd. The people eligible to possess and own firearms within the United States (with further restrictions) include ‘US citizens, permanent resident aliens and non-immigrant aliens admitted into the United States for lawful hunting or sporting purposes or if the non-immigrant falls under one of the following exceptions : possesses a valid hunting license/permit issued by any US state, official representative of a foreign government who is accredited to the United States Government or the Government’s mission to an international organization having its headquarters in the US or is enroute to or from another country to which that alien is accredited, official of a foreign government or a distinguished foreign visitor who has been so designated by the Department of State, a foreign law enforcement officer of a friendly foreign government entering the United States on official law enforcement business or someone who has received a waiver from the Attorney General as long as the petition shows this would be in the interests of justice and would not jeopardize the public safety under 18 U.S. Code § 922(y)(3)(c).” [6]

The firearms market is constituted of two types of markets, namely primary and secondary. The primary market involves acquisition of new and secondhand firearms from federal firearms licensees. FFLs require customers to provide identification and sign a form that validates the fact that they aren’t prohibited from buying a firearm along with conducting a proper criminal background check on the customers. A privately owned gun can be transferred in ways not involving FFLs through classified ads and at gun shows. This constitutes the secondary market for firearms. Young offenders have been noted as active in illegal market both as buyers and sellers of guns through their networks of friends, family and street sources. These guns also have high value in exchange and are used by the youth to trade for money, drugs or other items like video games, phones etc.

The vast majority of Americans support gun control and yet the Congress has failed to toughen laws even in the wake of a series of mass shootings, the primary reason for this being National Rifles Association (NRA) pouring money into political races at record levels for gun lobbying. It has spent US$4.1 million on lobbying in 2018- as compared to US$3.1 million it spent in 2016. [7] Along with lobbying, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United’s decision allowing NRA to be open for independent expenditures has enabled groups and individuals to back or attack candidates. A lot of the organization’s strength also stems from the support of the voters and its ability to push an agenda that appears out of line with the general demographic, which is in favor of stricter gun laws.

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The staggering figures collected from various researches portray the magnitude of the problem that lies. [8] America leads other developed countries when it comes to gun-related homicides by a huge margin because it has way more guns than other developed nations (29.7, homicides by firearm per 1 million people). America has 4.4 percent of the world’s population but almost half of the civilian- owned guns around the world. There have also been more than 1,500 mass shootings on American soil since Sandy Hook, which was a mass shooting that took place in December 2012, when a gunman walked into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and killed 20 children, 6 adults and himself. Supporters of gun rights often cite that it’s inappropriate to bring up political debates about gun control in the aftermath of a tragedy but the statistics which show that America has nearly one mass shooting a day proves that if the lawmakers are forced to wait for a time when there isn’t a mass shooting to talk about gun control, they could find themselves waiting for a long time. Moreover, the old conventional wisdom, that talks about America having more crime than other Western countries are vanquished as US appears to have more lethal violence primarily driven by the prevalence of guns. The need for stricter gun control laws is further realized by the fact that stricter laws in a few states have led to a significant drop in gun violence. With most of the gun deaths being suicides, this has become one of the most compelling reasons for stricter gun control policies. It has also been found that programs that limit access to guns have decreased suicides. However, support for gun ownership has sharply increased since the early ‘90s and mass shootings seem to have little effect on public’s opinion about gun rights.

Attention must be paid towards the favorite arguments that are used by gun lobbyists which can be easily invalidated through a number of research studies. It has been widely said that guns don’t kill people but people kill people but the crux of the matter is that people with access to more guns tend to kill more people- with guns. States with higher gun ownership rates have higher gun murder rates- as much as 114 percent higher than states with lower gun ownership rates. It is also widely reported that an armed society is a polite society however, various studies suggest that being armed increases your chances of getting into a confrontation. Moreover, what is also taken as an argument by lobbyists is the fact that more good guys with guns can stop the bad guys, however the number of mass shootings that have been stopped by armed civilians in the past 33 years is 0, clearly invalidating their argument. One of the primary reasons for firearms possession being safety at home is invalidated as well with research studies suggesting gun ownership leads to higher risks of homicides, suicides and accidental deaths by guns. Moreover in 2013, more than 5 times more women were shot by husbands, boyfriends and ex-partners than murdered by male strangers completely contradicting the argument that guns make women safer. What is widely popularized by these lobbyists is the fact that no more gun laws are needed but only the ones that exist need to be enforced properly, however weak laws and loopholes backed by lobby has enabled people to get guns easily and the existing laws aren’t preventing guns from getting into the wrong hands. [9]

There are plenty of reasons that can be cited as root causes for the excessive gun violence in the United States. Gun rights have been established in the US constitution itself, in the Bill of Rights passed immediately after ratification. These laws are covered in the Second Amendment, which is only secondary to laws guaranteeing freedom of expression. Mental Illness is cited as one of the primary reasons for gun violence, which at the first glance seems plausible but researches and statistics prove otherwise. People with severe mental illnesses (schizophrenia and bipolar disorder) do have an increased risk of violence as compared to the general population but the absolute risk they pose is not high, and vast majority of people with mental illnesses aren’t violent. Mentally ill people, on the other hand, are far more likely to be the victims of gun violence. Moreover, only a distinct minority of the population suffers from severe mental illnesses, which contributes not much at all to the overall problem. Although, it must be added here that while mental health isn’t the key to the gun homicide problem, better mental health treatment and gun control can be effective in combating the problem. Only about 4 percent of violence acts committed against other people is caused by serious mental illnesses. Substance abuse has been another popular theory, but its involvement in the gun problem has been largely debatable. Drug violence by drug cartels and their subordinates, can be prevented by legalizing drugs, with an example being Colorado witnessing a significant drop in crime rates, particularly a 24 percent reduction in homicides after the legalization of recreational marijuana. Alcohol misuse, dependence and addiction are also risk factors. As a part of a study in New Zealand, it was found out that alcohol dependence might have a ‘casual association’ with about 10 percent of the impulsive crimes including assault, which can hold true for disputes that turn deadly due to proximity to firearms. Video games have been cited as to have spurred gun violence, with all these arguments against them being proved baseless by numerous researches and statistics data. United States is separated out when we look at how much a country spends on games and how many gun deaths there are relative to the country’s population. Generally the countries with most deaths from gun violence aren’t the ones spending the most on video games; United States is an outlier in that regard, given the high number of gun deaths. Japan is a great example of how baseless the claims are, with Japan being a country of 127 million and with rarely more than 10 gun deaths total per year. Violent video games don’t kill people but lax laws that make dangerous firearms too easily accessible kill people. Of the 200 countries with the highest rates of deaths from gun violence and 100 countries that spend the most per capita in video games, only the United States is in the upper quintile on both the metrics. Although there have been instances where a shooter may have specifically acted because games ‘shaped his thoughts’. [10][11]

Before the various solutions for this problem are proposed and discussed, it’s important to know what people think of the problem, the gun control measures and gun ownership issues. Three-in-ten American adults say they own a gun. White adults are more likely than blacks or Hispanics to own guns, and white men are particularly likely to be gun owners. There is vast urban-rural divide in gun ownership rates. 46 percent adults who live in rural areas said that they own a gun as compared to the 28 percent from suburbs and just 19 percent from urban areas. Gun ownership is also linked with party affiliation, with 44 percent of Republicans and independents saying they own a gun as compared to 20 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners saying the same. Amongst the reasons cited for gun ownership, protection constitutes for a massive 67 percent thereby becoming one of the primary reasons for ownership. About four-in-ten gun owners (38%) say hunting is a major reason, while 30% cite sport shooting. Smaller shares cite gun collection or their job as major reasons. Majorities of gun owners who live in cities, suburbs and rural areas cited protection as a major reason for firearm ownership whereas owners living in rural areas have cited hunting as a major reason. Men are more likely than women to say hunting and sport shooting are central to why they own a gun. Two-thirds of gun owners say that they own more than one firearm and roughly three-in-ten say that they personally have five or more guns. About four-in-ten gun owners (38%) say that there is a gun that is both loaded and easily accessible to them all of the time when they are home. About a quarter of handgun owners (26%) say that they carry a gun outside of their home all or most of the time. For most gun owners, owning a firearm is tied to their sense of personal freedom, with three-quarters of gun owners (74%) saying the right is essential. Gun owners and non-owners disagree on many policy proposals, and among gun owners, Republicans and Democrats don’t see eye to eye. Owners and non-owners are sharply divided when it comes to creating a federal database to track gun sales, banning assault-style weapons, and banning high capacity magazines, with the support for these proposals being much higher among non-gun owners and a significant share of owners being open to these proposals. Great majorities of both gun owners and non-owners favor limiting access to guns for people with mental illnesses and individuals who are on federal no-fly or terrorist watch lists, and strong majorities favor background checks for private sales and at gun shows. Republican gun owners are more resistant than Democratic owners to banning assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines as well as creating a database to track gun sales whereas they are more open than Democrats to proposals that would expand gun rights, such as allowing people to carry concealed guns in more places and allowing teachers and officials to carry guns in K-12 schools. About one-in-five gun owners (19%) say they belong to the NRA with Republicans and Republican-leaning gun owners twice more likely than Democratic and Democratic-leaning gun owners to say they belong to NRA. The public opinion on NRA’s influence over gun legislation is divided, with 40 percent saying it’s the right amount of influence, 15 percent saying it has too little influence. While six-in-ten non-gun owners (59%) see gun violence as a huge problem, only a third of adults who own guns say the same. Among all adults, 86 percent say the ease with which people can illegally obtain guns contributes a great deal to gun violence. 60 percent point to the ease with which people can legally obtain guns (Two-thirds of non-gun owners compared to fewer than half of gun owners). [12]

Pro-gun activists frequently use a quote made by Mahatma Gandhi to suggest that Gandhi supported individual gun ownership which goes as follows: “Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest.” In this passage Gandhi references India’s Arms Act (1878) which gave Europeans right to carry firearms and prevented Indians from doing so, unless they were granted a license by British colonial government. The full text of his quote goes like: “Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest. If we want the Arms Act to be repealed, if we want to learn the use of arms, here is a golden opportunity. If the middle classes render voluntary help to Government in the hour of its trial, distrust will disappear, and the ban on possessing arms will be withdrawn.” Gandhi wanted Indians to fight in World War I to prove themselves trustworthy with arms and fit for citizenship, and claiming that he was pro-gun ownership is an oversimplification of his views. However, he did not oppose the use of violence in some circumstances, preferring it to cowardice and submission, he still remained a staunch advocate for nonviolence his entire life. Gandhi’s absolute refusal to use firearms and his quote during his work with the ambulance corps in England in 1914 which says “A rifle this hand will never fire” serve as powerful evidences refuting the claims made by the pro-gun activists. In fact after the replacement of the old Arms Act of 1878 with the 1959 Arms Act and the supplemental Arms Rules of 1962, he didn’t speak out against the Arms Act of 1858 again as he didn’t consider it significant enough to advocate against and remained adamant about establishing nonviolence as a principle of state policy.

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Critical Analysis of the Issues of Gun Violence and Its Control. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 25, 2023, from
“Critical Analysis of the Issues of Gun Violence and Its Control.” Edubirdie, 12 Aug. 2022,
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Critical Analysis of the Issues of Gun Violence and Its Control [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 12 [cited 2023 Sept 25]. Available from:
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