Gun Control: Why Guns Lead to Problems and Not Solutions Guns are a rather contentious topic to discuss. Chances are–if you haven’t been living under a rock—you’ve recently heard some form of televised debate on their legality at some point. One of the major topics being discussed in the 2016 Presidential campaign is the right to own a gun and how the legality relates to the Constitution. The very concept of gun ownership has come to be a symbol of masculinity, rebelliousness, and freedom from government regulations. We are at a point where people from other countries don’t understand Americans’ bsession with guns.
While people may think one handgun can protect them or their family, guns really aren’t as useful as most Americans think they are. Guns cause more problems for Americans than other methods of self-defense, and are used in many homicides and suicides around the country. Although gun rights activists say banning guns does not change anything, banning or regulating the sale of certain guns will greatly benefit the United States in terms of living conditions and safety by means of reducing the homicide and suicide rates and lowering the possibility of major tragedies.
The Second Amendment is ne of the subtopics of gun control that gets brought up every time any argument for gun rights surfaces. Gun rights activists interpret that the Second Amendment is an entitlement for all Americans to be able to keep one or more guns in their household, but that is controversial. The Second Amendment was written back when America was under the threat of attacks from the British during the Revolutionary War. The Second Amendment’s intent was to give guns to militias, since they needed them to quickly defend themselves from British attacks (“The History” 1-2).
Nowadays, we have the National Armed Forces to protect our country from would-be attackers, so this should not be an issue. A militia is defined as a small group of people who do not belong to any military force, that are trained to act like soldiers and are called upon in times of emergency. This concept of the militia, as stated in the Second Amendment, is arguably obsolete, simply because advancements in national security is now entrusted to our armed forces. The reason the concept of a militia is controversial is due to the fact that it can be interpreted in two different, opposing ways.
In one way, a militia can be seen as a group of non-military men who come ogether for a specific purpose—defending the state. This way of looking at it leaves out the individual citizen, because it would seem that citizens have a right to bear arms only if they come together as a militia (Ehrman 1). On the other hand, the fact that militias are composed of ordinary citizens implies that ordinary citizens have the right to bear arms (Ehrman 1). Another argument that gun rights activists use frequently is that “guns keep people safe”.
By that logic, the United States would have no crime at all, since its citizens own more guns than in any other country. There is currently very little evidence to show that arrying a concealed weapon keeps anyone safer (“Stronger 2”). There are many developed countries with stricter gun regulations with a lower homicide/suicide rate than the United States. Countries such as Germany, France, and Italy require you to pass a mental health exam and require you to not have a criminal record in order for you to purchase a firearm. The United Kingdom and Japan both completely outlaw the possession of any/all firearms.
Australia hasn’t had a mass shooting since 1996—the same year their current gun control policies were enacted (Donohue 5). The United States has a igher gun-related suicide/homicide rate than all of the aforementioned countries. Another reason this argument is can be considered flawed is that guns usually can make problems worse. Even though approximately 108,000 guns are used in self-defense each year (“The History” 1-2), statistics show that a handgun in someone’s home is more likely to accidentally injure someone else than to be successfully used in self-defense (Donohue 2).
Many gun users are inexperienced, and are likely to accidentally misuse a gun it due to being in a high-pressure situation. In fact, the person invading your home is twice as ikely to take your gun for themselves (“The History” 1-2). In a study conducted from 2007-2011, in 99. 2% of nonfatal crimes involving victims with a gun, didn’t actually use it to defend themselves (Donohue 2). The point is, guns may not always be the best choice when it comes to self-defense, and in some cases, they may worsen the situation.
That begs the question: if guns are so problematic as a means of self-defense, then what could possibly make some people want guns so badly? The answer may lie in something called hegemonic masculinity. Hegemonic masculinity is a concept that states the dominant structure of gender roles. It explains why men feel more powerful and superior when they can prove themselves to someone by means of verbal or physical attacks. American culture has associated guns with masculinity as long as guns have been around.
A study conducted by the news organization Mother Jones found that 61/62 mass shootings since 1982 have been done by white men that have felt “like an outcast” at some point in their lives (Esposito and Finley 74-103). Even the Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were bullied, according to some accounts. This may make some people want a gun to feel empowered; to feel as though they have the ability o deal damage if they feel threatened. Even though guns may seem to satisfy the need for self-assertiveness, they may not satisfy a need for self-defense as stated in the above paragraph.
American popular culture portrays the concept of freedom as “freedom from the government” and “the ability to be independent”, and a gun is a symbol that lets people know that. If society changed its interpretation of a “free person” from that of a “rugged individualist” to more of a productive and engaged member of a community, then people wouldn’t feel the need to buy a gun to feel secure about themselves. The final solution for nding gun violence may not be about restricting guns, but completely changing the country’s culture (Esposito and Finley 1).
Putting it bluntly, many people want guns not because they feel unsafe, rather because others think guns are manly, awesome, and because it is a way for people to feel empowered. But that’s not to say that all guns should be banned. I am aware that people use guns for recreational purposes too, such as hunting and trap shooting. That is perfectly acceptable. However, many major shootings are done with military-grade weapons such as AR-15s. It is unnecessary for someone to purchase an AR-15 for hunting or self-defense urposes. Military-grade weapons are called “military-grade” for a reason.
Despite this, there are quite a few guns that are very powerful in the wrong hands that are perfectly legal. For example: According to XM42, a manufacturer of a “portable handheld flamethrower”, flamethrowers are legal in every state except California and Maryland (XM42 1). That provides a perfect opportunity for someone to use one to harm others. No sane human needs a flamethrower for home protection purposes. Sanity has prevailed, and some actions to prevent the legality of other dangerous weapons have been taken.
President George H. W. Bush signed a bill banning the importation of Uzis and AK-47’s into the United States. President Bill Clinton signed two bills in 1994: one that dealt with requiring a five-day waiting period plus a background check for the acquisition of a gun, and another that banned nineteen different military-grade weapons (Miller 1-4). Despite all of this, guns are still a part of American culture and identity. We Americans have a special attachment to guns that is so unique to us that it even puzzles other countries. As long as that continues to be the case, we will need specific gun regulations made to make American homes safe.
Military-grade guns should never be part of the regular household, simply because they will lead to problems and opportunities for tragedy involving innocent people. The people of America need to understand that as useful as guns may seem, there can and will be people who will use them for malevolent intentions. Getting a gun should not be easy; it should require a license and a mental health evaluation to make sure it does not end up in the wrong hands. Instead of thinking about protecting “myself, my home, my belongings,” we should be protecting our society and community as a whole.