Gun violence in the United States has been a problem for an extended period. The US has been considered the country with the most deaths from gun violence. Gun violence happens in schools, at homes, and in neighborhoods. Because of the threat it brings towards individuals’ lives, human rights activists and organizations have vocalized areas that lead to gun violence and how provided knowledge concerning the issue. The United States governments, both federal and state, have gun laws that prohibit unlawful gun use and violence. Through analysis of gun violence causations and regulations, the rates of gun violence can be reduced significantly. While investigating gun laws, more sources will be used to support my stand on the effectiveness of gun laws.
- What are the statistics related to gun violence in the United States?
- What are the economic, political, and socio/cultural causes of gun violence, and what are their effects?
- What are the existing arguments against gun regulations?
- Since gun laws are different in all states, should they be regulated by the Federal Government?
- How are the gun laws different in the US and European countries, and how can they be effective in the US?
- How have current gun laws evolved from the past, and what more can be done for the rules to remain effective?
Gun violence in the United States has been a problem for an extended period. The US has been considered the country with the most deaths from gun violence. Gun violence happens in schools, at homes, and in neighborhoods. Because of the threat it brings to individuals’ lives, human rights activists and organizations have vocalized areas that lead to gun violence and how they provided knowledge concerning the issue. Gun violence has made innocent families victims of poverty and even traumatic experiences through endless court procedures. Fortunately, I have not experienced gun violence at an up-close level, but hearing it from news outlets and its prevalence in schools creates an awful surrounding for all American citizens. This is why I chose to focus on this topic. Not just the mortality rates in the country but as a tool to inform others how the laws concerning the purchase and use of guns can better help reduce the occurrence of gun violence. The United States governments, both federal and state, have gun laws that prohibit unlawful gun use and violence. By analyzing gun violence causations and, most importantly, regulations, gun laws can significantly reduce gun violence rates.
Background of Gun Violence and the Laws
Gun violence didn’t just start in the 21st century. The most popular gun violence act happened around the mid-1960s when the perpetrator shot a university in Texas and killed more than ten people within one and a half hours. Weapons then were highly developed, which allowed him to kill those amounts of people within a short period of time. Further on, in 2017, in Las Vegas, the killer murdered 58 people and injured 526 people, all within 10 minutes (Phillips and Romanek). Investigating gun violence and its regulations requires us to understand the scope of gun violence, including the causes and effects of gun violence, the statistics involved, and the history of gun regulations.
In America, about 100 are reported dead through gun violence. This is either through homicides or suicides (EFSGV). Unfortunately, these numbers keep rising every year. In addition, states such as Alaska, Mississippi, Wyoming, and New Mexico have a record of having the highest gun mortalities. Some of the victims were either targets or innocent civilians caught in a crossfire. The analysis of gun violence can continue to be broken down into the popular demographic in terms of gender and also race. Male are more likely to be perpetrators of gun violence than women in both homicides and suicides. Gun violence ranging from homicides and police shootings, is more prevalent among the black and Hispanic community in males aged 24-35 years.
Causes and Effects of Gun Violence
The causes of gun violence revolve around social, cultural, and economic factors. One social factor that causes gun violence is police brutality. Police brutality has been a recent issue, especially among people of color facing discrimination due to their stereotypes. Police are being accused and prosecuted for violence against innocent civilians leading to death. Due to the community’s knowledge of these acts, they engage the police in gum crossfires, leading to more casualties. The black and Hispanic communities have been victims of gun violence within their neighborhoods. The same exposure can also be a social factor that leads to gun violence since it is something that is already embedded in them (EFSGV). Sometimes, gang-related gun violence comes from families, whereby these cats are passed down from one generation to another. Hence, one family can experience a lot of deaths throughout generations. In addition, gun violence is also a result of poverty, whereby male-dominated households are seeking help from firearms to steal from others. The gap between the rich and the poor has always been a bone of contention that has led the poor community into gun violence. The financial gap also extends toward public resources such as affordable housing and healthcare. This also becomes an economic factor causing gun violence. Aside from these factors, one cause of gun violence is mental health. However, mental illnesses alone can’t result in gun violence. One has to access firearms for them to become a threat.
Access to firearms is also a significant reason for the prevalence of gun violence in the United States. Accessing a gun these days is even easier than getting a driver’s license. The Teen Vogue website mentions that a background check is conducted for one to acquire a firearm, and they do not have to have a firearm license (Nast). This means that underage or mentally unstable people can acquire a gun if they do not have a questionable past. Accessibility to firearms makes the situation more dangerous if the federal and state governments do not look toward amending the current regulations.
Gun violence also has some effects on these segments. For instance, once a neighborhood experiences frequent gun violence activities, many people move, and the neighborhood’s value decreases. This is seen in some areas like Minneapolis. In addition, it becomes difficult to set up a business because it suffers the risk of damage to goods and other business assets. Gun violence also reduces community interactions. Societies lack togetherness because they live in fear of being shot. Additionally, gun violence also leads to PTSD or trauma-related disorders. Once a person is involved or has witnessed mass shootings like in schools, they experience trauma that makes them fearful of going to school, or even in worse scenarios, they become numb.
The best way through which the country can eliminate gun violence is through the regulation of gun legislation. It is calculated that six in ten Americans have guns in their homes. They say that it is for safety reasons. However, most people who have guns at home are primarily involved in gun violence, whether it is domestic, suicide, or homicide. It is easy to manipulate the policies and say that guns at home are for safety; however, during the 1990s, many stated that the purpose of gun ownership was for enjoyment. In addition, in 1996, the National Rifle Association demonstrated against the allocation of money to study gun violence by the CDC. Congress reallocated that money to other research, and gun violence had been left in the open for more than a decade till 2013 when Obama pushed Congress towards the study of the contribution of gun violence to mortality.
However, more still needs to be done since prevention measures are still yet to be established. Gun violence research is not invested in as much as other scientific research. For instance, Roseburg states that this could be due to who gun violence affects (Roseburg). It could be systemic that gun violence research is not being conducted and doesn’t affect the high class in society. He also mentions that study of the prevention of gun violence could help create policies that reduce gun mortalities. Counter-arguments have been made stating that amending gun legislation could create speculations that gun owners are not able to protect themselves.
Furthermore, for gun violence to be considered a menace or require attention, it has to involve more than four people. News outlets only communicate only that which seems essential. However, the constant shootings and violence have surpassed the level hoped for attention, but it is still not being talked about. Once the media channels start communicating about gun violence constantly, Congress will probably review the existing gun laws. Even though leaders call for gun regulations, few states implement those regulations when an incident happens.
Another counter-argument from those who oppose gun regulations is that the regulations have no superiority over the people. Christine Watkins mentioned that those against gun regulations seem to think that gun laws are not a parameter to control people’s behavior and actions (Watkins). In addition, they seem to believe that we should think about the relationship between guns and violence and laws and individual behavior. And since no research has been conducted to prove the effectiveness of gun laws in reducing gun violence, the Second Amendment ceases to be ineffective. This is why research is essential, and it will bring things into perspective rather than just using fear.
Federal and State Gun Laws
Federal gun laws apply to all citizens of the United States, while State Gun laws are applicable only within a state. State gun laws can differ from federal gun laws. State gun laws can also be different from one state to another. For instance, in Washington, an individual must register a firearm, while it is not a requirement (WPR). In states like Wyoming, they are not required to register, have a carry permit or have a purchase permit which could be why they are leading in firearm violence. Federal gun laws have no jurisdiction and are therefore beneath state gun laws. The differences in state laws make the whole country unsafe.
Additionally, the differences in federal and state gun laws can lead to fatalities in the name of jurisdiction. For instance, in the case of domestic violence with a firearm, some relate to federal law while others to state law. Some local police will not respond to some calls because federal law is being violated, and the person responsible is the Attorney General. Such situations are not a “wait and see” situation, and they have to be dealt with immediately. This puts the victim in more danger trying to contact the appropriate legal officer to deal with their case.
Such disparities are why it would be appropriate to have similar gun laws in all states. Gun violence is a countrywide issue, not just a state issue. Having common state gun laws ensures that any legal and enforcement officer can respond appropriately in case of any incident. It also provides that everybody within the country is governed under the same law in maintaining safety for everyone. A shooter in Washington will e tried the same way if they were in Texas or Wyoming.
Unlike the United States, the United Kingdom has one of the strictest gun rules among European countries. Only six in a hundred people own guns in the United Kingdom, with a homicide rate of 0.7% per a million people. Firearms in the United Kingdom have been restricted only to military forces, police officers, and people with special permission from home security. In addition, gun owners are required to renew their license after every five years, which can be snatched away once caught on the wrong (Lopez). The existing several gun laws in the UK resulted from concurrent gun shootings that led the public to speak up about it. However, these laws have not entirely done away with gun violence, but they have dropped significantly.
The United States can adopt a strict gun policy like the UK as a point of origin in reducing cases and mortalities related to gun violence. The rate of the flow of guns in neighborhoods in the US is alarming, and gun laws have to be amended to make sure this flow is restricted to only registered and licensed individuals only. Restrictions on the flow of guns ensure that only people above the required age are licensed with guns, hence reducing school mass shootings. States like California and Texas have the highest rates of school shootings because they have little to no strict gun laws.
The state of gun laws in the United States has been in a pending situation. Most of the proposed bills never make it past the Senate, and few are hardly made laws. Congress is trying to make efforts to reduce gun violence while also protecting the rights of gun owners (Bethany Strong et al.). In addition, they are still refusing to provide funds for gun control, which could reduce gun violence. Such gaps need to be filled so as to curb the menace that is gun violence. While gun owners are arguing that owning guns makes them feel safe, the question also lies in what about the rest of the population who do not own guns? They still have to be protected by the same gun owners’ laws.
Gun legislation is essential for the reduction of gun violence. One of the main reasons for the increased rates of gun violence and mortalities is the free gun laws in the United States. The US is the leading country in gun violence, with a statistic of 100 mortalities. Gun violence ranges from school shootings and homicides and also suicides. Gun violence results in a lack of social cohesion since one person is afraid of the other. In addition, gun violence is associated with minority groups like the poor and people of color who experience a lot of social and economic injustices. A number of states in the United States do not have comprehensive gun laws that reduce the reckless carrying of guns on the streets. From countries like the United Kingdom, amending gun laws is a first step toward reducing gun violence in neighborhoods. Other solutions such as equitable distribution of natural and public resources can also reduce gun violence among minority groups. Gun laws are not the “saving grace” for gun violence, but it is an excellent step in making sure that the states and the whole country are safe from regular shootings and killings.
Bethany Strong, MS et al. “Gun Violence And Firearm Policy In The U.S.: A Brief History And The Current Status | The Bulletin .”The Bulletin, 2018, https://bulletin.facs.org/2018/07/gun-violence-and-firearm-policy-in-the-u-s-a-brief-history-and-the-current-status/.
SVG. “Community Gun Violence – The Educational Fund To Stop Gun Violence .”The Educational Fund To Stop Gun Violence, 2021, https://efsgv.org/learn/type-of-gun-violence/community-gun-violence/.
SVG. “Gun Violence In The United States – The Educational Fund To Stop Gun Violence .”The Educational Fund To Stop Gun Violence, 2022, https://efsgv.org/learn/type-of-gun-violence/gun-violence-in-the-united-states/.
Lopez, German. “How Gun Control Works In America, Compared With 4 Other Rich Countries”. Vox, 2018, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2015/12/4/9850572/gun-control-us-japan-switzerland-uk-canada.
Nast, Condé. “7 Reasons It’S So Easy To Buy A Gun In The U.S.”. Teen Vogue, 2016, https://www.teenvogue.com/story/7-reasons-easy-buy-guns-america.
Phillips, Dave, and Devorah Romanek,. “Gun Violence: A Brief Cultural History | Maxwell Museum .”Maxwellmuseum.Unm.Edu, 2018, https://maxwellmuseum.unm.edu/exhibits/temporary/gun-violence-brief-cultural-history.
Rosenberg, Mark. “Considerations for developing an agenda for gun violence prevention research.” Annual review of public health 42 (2021): 23-41.
Watkins, Christine. “Gun Control: The Debate And Public Policy .”Social Studies, https://www.socialstudies.org/sites/default/files/publications/se/6105/610502.html.
WPR. “Gun Laws By State 2022”. Worldpopulationreview.Com, 2022, https://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/gun-laws-by-state.