Every twenty minutes an American is victim to gun violence ending in death. The current theme of gun control is a very sensitive and controversial topic which is now in the spotlight of discussion. In the wake of recent tragic mass shooting governmental agencies from around the globe need to address this increasing issue of mass shootings and gun violence, enforcing some laws and investing in protecting citizens. This paper will be focusing on the US and why it is important to integrate various laws, concepts in order to try and control gun violence. The US is one of the six countries that contributes to over half of the worlds deaths due to gun violence a year. This is according to an article on “Vox” written by German Lopez, a senior news correspondent and journalist. Compared to the other 5 countries on the list who are all have low-economically institutions and justice systems, US has one of the most stable and prominent governments in the world but is struggling to control the outbreak of gun violence throughout its citizens. I believe stricter handgun control laws, licensing and immigration laws are necessary to saving lives and protecting citizens.
In the USA, shootings are happening so regularly that the government and then in turn, the citizens are numb to the fact that this is becoming a extremely recurring issue that is now apart of our society. News articles now don’t cover a lot of the shootings due to them not being as bad as the previous ones. They only show the massive shootings but the fact is guns are being abused everyday. In the US constitution it states in the second amendment ‘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.’ This protects the rights of the citizens to “bear arms” and give them the right to carry and stash guns. The government believed that by passing this law they would prevent shootings and keep criminals as well as mentally ill people from getting guns. However, the statistics show that since this amendment was last reexamined in 1992, gun violence had increased drastically around the world, especially in America.
One of the largest shootings recorded in the United States was the Las vegas shooting that took the lives of 58 people at a music festival, shook the nation.
Even before and after this shooting, multiple people in congress were still fighting to loosen the guns laws, even after many fatalities in this event and many that had already occured.
Straight after the shooting US President Donald Trump said this on twitter sourced from the Atlantic paper “My fellow Americans, we are joined together today in sadness, shock, and grief,” President Trump said from the White House in televised remarks shortly before 11 a.m. “It was an act of pure evil.” However, although his words of good will and prayers were in support for the victims and their families this same type of sympathy didn’t arise when it came to dealing with this increasingly recurring situation as a president in the governmental scene. A blind eye was turned and the focused was solely on the attack itself, not how to move forward and to prevent this from this happening in the future.
Multiple senators also gave their condolences including Richard Blumenthal and Catherine Cortez Masto. However, they were then quickly shot down on social media and by other senators saying that these statements are beating around the bush and not solving the problem of gun violence.
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, had a strong opinion around gun laws, putting his colleagues in the firing line saying “It is positively infuriating that my colleagues in Congress are so afraid of the gun industry that they pretend there aren’t public policy responses to this epidemic. There are, and the thoughts and prayers of politicians are cruelly hollow if they are paired with continued legislative indifference. It’s time for Congress to get off its ass and do something.”
After this event many democrats failed to tighten up gun laws and background checks. Most of the people in power in the white house, especially the republicans want to loosen gun laws and make it easier for people to get them as a weapon of “self defense”.
One of the powerhouse associations in helping sway the government’s opinion on gun laws is the NRA (national rifle association) who advocate for easier gun laws, using $3 million dollars a year in a bid to influence gun policies, and so far this strategy has worked at keeping the gun laws from becoming more strict. They argue that more guns will make the world safer and want to expand gun rights to “open carry” which means that gun owners will be able to carry weapons, unsealed in most public places.
One instance on where the NRA has had influence on the gun laws is when there was an increase with mass shootings at k-12 schools throughout America, with 24 occuring in 2018 alone. After the biggest shooting happened, with 17 killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, there was a massive riot that occured by the victims, families and friends of the deceased that rallied for extremely tighter gun rights, stopping the majority of people from easily buying guns and for the government to change the laws now. However, the NRA got involved, voicing their divergent solution that is in support of the 2nd amendment. The association suggested that instead schools should place highly trained resource officers with guns on the school campus, and teachers should also be armed and trained to carry a gun in order to protect the students in another event such as this one. The government then responded to this opinion, with President Donald Trump tweeting in support of this “reasonable suggestion” saying “Armed educators love students and will protect them. Must be firearms adept and have annual training”
In the hours after it happened, people from all over the world were coming to show support to the victims and their families. Within the next week, Jacinda ardern and the Nz parliament had changed their gun laws to try and prevent this from happening again.
(Most of the people that have committed mass shootings, have then turned the gun on themselves at the end. (could be linked to a mental disorder or sick mind))
Through the previous years of constantly increasing mass shootings and suicides associated with gun violence, the contradicting topic of mental illnesses and psychiatric disorders has been looked upon as the blaming tool for a majority of these incidences linked with gun violence around the world. Multiple court cases where gun violence is involved the assailant will opt for the “insanity plea deal” which argues that the assailant is not to be blamed for the actions of the crime/assassination due to the episodic or psychiatric diseases while it was being committed.
There are various stakeholders that are affected by this theory that mental illness could be to blame for the increase in gun violence in America.
The national Rifle association, which has greater control over the status of firearms rather than the general public, heavily blames the increased gun violence, especially the mass shootings on the untreated mental illnesses and psychiatric disorders of the assailants, rather then the unregulated guns. They also stated in the Journal ‘Annals of epidemiology” written by Jeffrey swanson that they proposed for a national database of persons with mental illnesses. Mental health organisations are now faced with the problem of trying to keep guns out of mental health patients hands, however in the Journal “Annals of epidemiology” pg 367 shows many health board and psychiatric doctors believe that what they saw as the “scapegoating” of people with mental illnesses, the vast majority will never act violent towards others and this is backed with epidemiologic data.
A vast majority of this debate is that public perception states that mental illness and gun violence are both interlocking factors, fueled mainly by the articles and stories in the media. One way this topic is exploited and taken advantage of, is when prosecutors allow to offender to accept the “insanity plea deal” which argues that the assailant is not to be blamed for the actions of the crime/assassination due to the episodic or psychiatric diseases while it was being committed. Because we have to take mental illnesses and psychiatric disorders seriously, many people committing these acts start to play the system and blame their behaviour on “mental problems”.
Many qualified psychiatric doctors however believe that they were completely sane and able to make rational decisions and used the vulnerability of the system to get a lighter sentence. Still, the majority of cases involving the violence of guns are associated with suicide. Suicide is a very sensitive subject especially when linked to such weapons associated with violence. The mental health and wellbeing of a person, most of the time is not treated due to the harsh stigma and embarrassment associated with thoughts around suicide. I believe that protecting citizens from being able to easily purchase and get a hold on guns needs to be a priority. I also believe that this heated conversation on mental illness and gun violence could be a positive reinforcement that this issue needs to be addressed immediately.
Official gun committee, gun manufacturers and the government have a prominent part in influencing the laws surrounding guns and firearms, especially when it comes to exposure of these weapons to the public. I personally don’t believe that these stakeholders are looking at this issue from a birds eye view. Money plays a dominant part in the ideas of losing the gun laws to make them more available to the public. Multiple successful firearm and gun manufacturers such as Smith & Wesson carry a yearly income of $773 million dollars, selling 91.3% of their products to domestic consumers. You would think due to the increase in deaths and mass shootings that gun sales would drop as they would be associated with extreme violence.
However, both the government and gun agencies flip that association around saying that this is why more people need guns so they can protect, fell secure and arm themselves so if anything were to happen they could end it first. This manipulating of reason then showed a spike in firearm purchasing after the Las vegas shootings and many other mass shootings in the recent years. The firearm companies shares went up around 6%- 8%. “The financial times of London” also reported that the sales 52% in the year after the Newtown shooting.
There are multiple assumptions that are associated with this very controversial topic such as that all people who own guns are going to abuse the right, commit a crime of violence. I am not saying that every person who owns are gun is psychotic and is going to abuse the right to a gun, however I am saying that I don’t believe that guns should be that easily accessible to the general public, especially the issue of assault rifles and handguns.
Another assumption is that everyone who committed the crimes of the mass shootings and who shoots people are mentally and have a psychiatric disorder. Although this may be true for some cases, I believe the stigma around mental health is too connected with gun violence, making people assume that is why they did it. However, I believe that most people are mindfully capable of making logical decisions and they do it for a particular gang or cult, control their emotions, put themselves in a powerful position etc.
On concluding this research paper, there are multiple, controversial opinions and positions on the issues around gun violence, around the world but especially in the United states. I believe that throughout there has been various arguments to suggest why implicating stricter handgun control laws, licensing and immigration laws are necessary to saving lives and protecting citizens. I believe it is something that needs to be promptly addressed, as the more numb we as citizens become to the constant news stories, funerals and memorials that are the products of gun violence.