The topic of gun ownership in the US is often dividing and polarizing, splitting the country into two camps. One stands behind the Second Amendment that guarantees the right to guns, and the other believes that they promote violence and need stricter control. Both positions have the right to exist, but the laws tend to change under the circumstances. The influx of violent crimes involving guns and mass shootings might make one support more restrictions, but the situation is too complicated to blame the tools.
The reasoning for wanting more rigid gun control tends to link violence with gun availability. Several states saw the relation between high mortality rates and weak laws that enable a certain degree of gun prevalence (Hamilton and Kposowa 95). The latter particularly affects suicides, the rate of which increases proportionally to gun availability in rural states with the white population (Hamilton and Kposowa 91). Stroebe also finds that gun availability affects homicide rates and that those who possess guns without necessarily using them are at an increased risk of being killed (31). Overall, it appears that the correlation between gun availability, which is enabled by the law, and violence exists, and it makes the concerns valid.
The strength of gun control laws varies from state to state, and some have significantly stricter regulations. Generally, most states have a background check on those who wish to purchase guns, although sometimes it only concerns licensed firms, meaning that other channels may circumvent the system (Spitzer 103). However, investigating a person’s past may be sufficient to prevent potential crimes, especially if a person is an alcoholic (Kleck et al. 22). Not allowing mentally ill people and criminals to possess guns may also be beneficial, although the evidence of its success is weak (Kleck et al. 22). The fact that the states have different gun laws creates a loophole that allowed perpetrators of shooting cases to procure guns without difficulty through a state with lax control (Spitzer 3). The bills following the Sandy Hook incident, which served as an incentive for more vigorous actions to promote gun control, failed at the time, so it also determined the current legal situation (Spitzer 216). Altogether, the laws regulating gun availability do not seem to be strong enough as a whole, and one state with stricter requirements does not necessarily solve the issue.
The opponents of gun control tend to cite the Second Amendment and insist that it is people that are to blame for violence, not guns themselves. They may believe the interpretation of gun ownership as a means to fight against the oppressive government, although they might be led by false quotations by the Founders (Spitzer 160). The second argument might be valid, as some gun crimes are attributed to mentally ill people, making the issue about improving mental health rather than restricting gun availability (Smith and Spiegler 241). However, it does raise the question of guns falling into the hands of people who legally should not possess them. Another point against gun control is that it might be abused and put those who are eligible under unwarranted supervision that potentially breaches the Constitution. While the risk of abuse exists, it might be better to have more rigorous regulations than potential gun crimes. In general, the arguments presented by the anti-gun control side raise some legitimate concerns, but they can be addressed to accommodate their interests.
Given the popularity of the thesis that guns are innocent, it is worth analyzing it further to determine whether it is true. As it was mentioned, mentally ill people are usually brought up to prove that it is the person who holds the gun that is dangerous. However, better mental care does not lead to a lower gun crime rate; it should be accompanied by stricter gun control for results (Smith and Spiegler 247). Moreover, mentally ill people are not the majority of those who engage in gun violence, so the rest may do it for other reasons (Smith and Spiegler 248). While it is difficult to determine whether guns enable violence or people who are violent by nature just gravitate towards them, various homicide and suicide cases are linked to gun ownership (Spitzer 114). Those who are prone to commit crimes will probably find another way under stricter gun control, but it might be a major determent for some.
In conclusion, gun control remains a topical and controversial issue, as it will always have its supporters and opponents. However, the evidence suggests that US gun laws are not perfect, enabling violence and crimes against other people and oneself. Some of those are committed by mentally ill people, which highlights the issue of lax gun distribution. Therefore, most gun violence happens for other reasons, and even stricter gun control may not stop homicides. However, it may decrease suicide rates and make those empowered by the existing regulations reconsider purchasing guns. The opponents may continue to use the Second Amendment as a shield, but no one wishes to abolish gun ownership; people want to restrict it within the constitutional right to prevent devastating tragedies.
Hamilton, David, and Augustine J. Kposowa. “Firearms and Violent Death in the United States: Gun Ownership, Gun Control and Mortality Rates in 16 States, 2005-2009.” Journal of Education, Society and Behavioural Science, vol. 7, no. 2, 2015, pp. 84-98. ScienceDomain.
Kleck, Gary, et al. “Does Gun Control Reduce Violent Crime?” Criminal Justice Review, vol. 41, no. 4, 2016, pp. 488-513. SagePub.
Smith, Jacob, and Jonathan Spiegler. “Explaining Gun Deaths: Gun Control, Mental Illness, and Policymaking in the American States.” Policies Studies Journal, vol. 48, no. 1, pp. 235-256.
Spitzer, Robert J. The Politics of Gun Control. 7th ed., Routledge, 2018.
Stroebe, Wolfgang. “Firearm Availability and Violent Death: The Need for a Culture Change in Attitudes toward Guns.” Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, vol. 16, no. 1), 2015, pp. 7–35.