Will Gun Control Change Anything?
In the United States of America, approximately 32,000 people will die from firearms. 60% of these are classified as suicides, and 34%, about 11,000, are classified as homicides, according to the CDC. Clearly, this is a problem in the U.S. Many gun control advocates will cite the 32,000 death statistic because it makes it seem like these deaths are a majority of homicides. (Hawkins, 2015) This is due to the media constantly covering violent crime with firearms, and as a result of this, public opinion is that most gun deaths are homicides instead of suicides. This can ruin the image of responsible gun owners because people believe that they are the cause of the violent crime. However, it is clear that mentally ill individuals who are not receiving adequate treatment make up the majority of this statistic. Most gun control advocates claim that reducing gun magazine sizes, banning “assault weapons”, and requiring extensive background checks and psychological evaluations will assist in dropping the number of deaths associated with firearms. This may be true in a very select few situations, such as suicide, but are completely impractical and useless when a basic knowledge of guns is applied.
Government officials have been trying to ban “high capacity” gun magazines since the Clinton administration. They claim that it will create a problem for mass shooters when they are trying to reload. They say that during the mass shooter’s reload, someone could run up and potentially stop the shooter. The problem with this claim is that it assumes too many things to be the same when they are actually variables.
The first is the assumption that the shooter will be unfamiliar with firearms and therefore not able to reload in a timely fashion. However, if someone is completely unfamiliar with guns, it would be extremely unlikely that they would even be able to operate a firearm without having some sort of previous knowledge or research into how to function a gun. This is because there are many steps that go into prepping a firearm to shoot. First, the magazine must be loaded with individual rounds. Magazines do not come fully loaded. For those who are completely unfamiliar, a magazine is a container that holds a select number of cartridges (bullets) that are to be fed into the breach of a gun. Magazines are reusable, and it is sad that I have to say that because there are many politicians who believe that magazines can only be used once. After the magazine is loaded then the gun must be loaded with the magazine. The next step is having to rack a round in the chamber, which can vary from gun to gun. After this the safety must be turned off, and the trigger pulled.
The other assumption that the gun lobby takes in this situation is that firearm reloads take a long time and if a shooter has to reload more often, then that will give a passerby time to take down the shooter. As demonstrated by this video, magazine size has extremely little effect on the amount of time to fire thirty rounds. This video also disproves the other assumption of the lobby that a passerby would be able to run and tackle the shooter during a reload. As previously stated, changing magazine capacity in firearms will have little to no effect on mass shootings.
The other move that the gun control lobby wants to take is to ban “assault weapons”. The problem with this statement is that they have failed to describe what constitutes an assault weapon. It seems that many, like Senator Kevin de Leon (D) from California, do not understand what firearms are legal or how firearms function in general. In the video, for instance, De Leon talks about “undetectable” firearms. He states that “undetectable” firearms can slip through metal detectors un-detected because they are made of heavy duty plastics and the like. This is completely wrong.
What Senator de Leon does not know about firearms is that almost the entire bolt of the gun, the part that essentially initiates the firing of a bullet, is metal. Also, every single gun is held together with screws and uses metal bullets and casings made out of either steel, brass, or lead. So even if a criminal were to slip past a metal detector with a so called “ghost gun”, they would not be able to conceal the bullets for the gun. This is the issue with many politicians in government trying to ban guns or gun parts. They do not know how firearms function, and therefore, cannot adequately describe what an assault weapon is.
Most people will describe “assault weapons” as ar-15s and ak-47s because they are able to fire automatically. This means that for a single pull of the trigger, the firearm will continuously shoot until the magazine is empty or until the trigger is released. What many citizens of the Unites States do not know is that there is already a ban on automatic firearms. What ak-47s and ar-15s can do is shoot semi-automatically, meaning it can fire one bullet per trigger pull. This is exactly the same for all magazine loading pistols, and even some revolvers. The other misconception about ar-15s is that most people do not know what the ar part stands for. They think it means “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle” when in reality it stands for “ArmaLite Rifle” which was the company that first adopted that design of firearm. Many of the claims that the gun control lobby makes are all based off of misconceptions. It is incredibly depressing especially in the age we live in today where people can just go online to find information, and yet, so much of the U.S. population is misinformed on firearms.
The last point that the gun control lobby will try to drive home is that if extensive background checks and psychological evaluations are performed, then less suicides and mass shootings will occur. This point could be partially true. Background checks are already required, and fairly extensive. (Gura, 2013) I say that not because more extensive background checks would be necessary, because they already are necessary, but because the United States has a problem that has been plaguing it for many years, mental health. Psychological evaluations could actually be incredibly useful and create way to find help for those who are mentally ill. For example, if someone is suicidal and they try to buy a gun, with a psychological evaluation mandated, they would be evaluated. If the evaluation found them disturbed in any way, then they could not buy a gun and then they could be recommended to see a doctor or therapist of some kind. This would be an interesting law to fiddle with and see if, at least with guns, the suicide rate would drop.
Somewhat unsuccessfully, Canada has already tried this. They have psychological evaluations on citizens who desire to buy a firearm, and yet, have a suicide rate, per 100,000 citizens, that is greater than that of the United States. Interestingly enough, guns are not the leading method of suicide in Canada. But perhaps it is because people will find a method to commit suicide despite whether they have a gun or not.
The biggest problem surrounding firearms is not the guns themselves, it is the misconceptions that people spread and proliferate about them. If more people educated themselves in topics such as gun control and actually looked into what different bans and proposals entailed, then maybe more people wouldn’t be arguing about gun control. They would be arguing to increase outreach for people with mental health problems, because that is an extremely ignored topic in America. Unfortunately, most people tend to just push mental health issues under the rug because they are either embarrassed or think it makes them seem abnormal. This is completely untrue. 40 million Americans have anxiety disorders, and 14 million Americans suffer from depression. (Egen, et al.) There needs to be more of an outreach for citizens who have mental health disorders because inanimate objects cannot kill someone unless acted on from an outside force. Therefore, someone can use a gun to commit suicide, but a gun will not just get up and shoot a person at random. Therefore, we as a society should be focused on the people doing the killing. These people need help either psychologically, emotionally, or financially, so we should pay more attention to them instead of an object that cannot do anything by itself.