Just a few days ago, I wrote a satirical piece about the upcoming event, Gun Appreciation Day, which is to be held this Saturday. I want to repeat that this piece was entirely satire, and since there were some who didn’t seem to pick up on this fact (even though it seemed pretty obvious to me, especially considering this photo), I felt I should write another piece to clear a few things up.
First: I am 100%, unequivocably, unambiguously, without a shred of a doubt in favor of stricter gun control laws in this country. The evidence is clearer with every new mass shooting in the U.S. that we need to change a few things regarding our gun laws, or lack thereof.
Second: I am perfectly fine with the Second Amendment that states that we have the right to keep and bear arms. When used responsibly, the Second Amendment doesn’t pose an issue. That being said, we are NOT using it responsibly.
It isn’t as if we don’t have the evidence that gun control works. Richard Florida of The Atlantic, along with his colleague Charlotta Mellander examined gun related deaths on the state level and looked at the factors associated with these deaths. The correlations they found were clear. States with stricter gun control regulations, like having an assault weapons’ ban, trigger locks, and safe storage requirements, show substantial negative correlations in firearm deaths.
“Firearm deaths are significantly lower in states with stricter gun control legislation. Though the sample sizes are small, we find substantial negative correlations between firearm deaths and states that ban assault weapons (-.45), require trigger locks (-.42), and mandate safe storage requirements for guns (-.48).”
A recent study by Mother Jones concerning mass shootings only confirms the need for greater firearms regulations in this country. What reporters Mark Follman, Gavin Aronsen, and Deanna Pan found in their research was striking. There have been at least 62 mass shootings across the country since 1982. Of the 142 guns possessed by the shooters, over 3/4 were legally obtained, including dozens of assault weapons and semiautomatic handguns.
For all the propaganda spewed by the NRA and the rabid gun lobby in the United States that if we regulate guns in this country, only the bad people will have firearms, the statistics just don’t add up. With regards to mass shootings, illegal guns play only a small part in the violence. It is the guns obtained legally that have done the most damage. What’s more, the gun lobby’s argument that more guns in the hands of good people will make us safer has also proven to be false. As part of a year-long investigation into gun laws and gun violence in the U.S., Mother Jones reporter Mark Follman also found that more guns in more hands have shown a positive correlation with gun violence. Of the mass shootings examined by Mother Jones over the last 30 years (a total of 62 cases), in not a single instance was the shooter stopped by a civilian carrying a gun. Again: In not a SINGLE CASE was the shooter stopped by a civilian carrying a gun. More guns in the hands of “good people” will not make us safer. In fact, more guns in the hands of civilians and less regulation of firearms, as evidenced by this chart, has put us in more danger. As firearms regulations become fewer and fewer and new laws make it increasingly easier to carry guns in public places, our country, even our children, become less and less secure. The Mother Jones piece states that, “In the past four years, across 37 states, the NRA and its political allies have pushed through 99 laws making guns easier to own, easier to carry in public, and harder for the government to track.” One striking example of this is that in Kansas, permit holders can carry concealed weapons inside K-12 schools.
Ezra Klein writes in The Washington Post that the over-politicization of the issue of gun control has made it so that even talking about the subject illicits an extreme backlash. For years, politicians have been so fearful of the gun lobby that they won’t even touch this issue. Klein writes,
“If roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing. If terrorists were detonating bombs in port after port, you can be sure Congress would be working to upgrade the nation’s security measures. If a plague was ripping through communities, public-health officials would be working feverishly to contain it.
Only with gun violence do we respond to repeated tragedies by saying that mourning is acceptable but discussing how to prevent more tragedies is not. “Too soon,” howl supporters of loose gun laws. But as others have observed, talking about how to stop mass shootings in the aftermath of a string of mass shootings isn’t “too soon.” It’s much too late.”
And it is certainly a conversation that we must have. According to Klein’s research, in the past 50 years, 15 of the 25 worst mass shootings in the world occurred in the United States. Finland was second with only two entries. Klein is correct, if the United States was the leading country in any other epidemic, there would be a public outcry and the government would be responding. Raise the topic of considering stricter regulations on firearms (like Joe Biden did with his recent task force on gun violence), however, and the laments of the gun lobby drown out all other criticism.
This Tuesday, Biden and his task force identified 19 executive actions that President Obama could take to move on gun control. His recommendations are expected to include things like renewing the ban on assault weapons (the 1994 law that expired in 2004), instituting universal background checks, and prohibiting high-capacity magazine clips. Additionally, there could be an executive action to give the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authority to conduct research on guns and to push for greater enforcement of our existing gun laws.
And this is what SHOULD happen. We SHOULD have more conversations at the top-level about what can be done to prevent another shooting like the tragedy at Sandy Hook. We SHOULD consider the implications of people being allowed to own high-capacity magazine clips and assault weapons like the ones used in so many mass shootings over the last 30+ years. We SHOULD require universal background checks of those looking to purchase firearms. Guns are not going to be outlawed in this country. We have a Second Amendment and I don’t imagine that any President could or would try to abolish that amendment entirely. But with the Second Amendment, as with all of the rights and privileges that we enjoy in this country, comes accountability. We have the right to keep and bear arms. We also have the responsibility to protect our citizens, especially those among us who cannot protect themselves from harm, like the children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. There is a burden that comes with our rights, our social contract, to use those rights in the best possible ways. As it stands now, we are not fulfilling our part of the bargain.