Gun Violence in America

Gun violence continues to be a problem in the United States because of the absurd access to guns, and the failure to push gun policies befitting a modern society, rather than ones that are intended for a militia. Gun violence kills more people in America than in any other country. This is nothing new in the United States, since it is often that there is some type of gun related violence and the gun policies are questioned and then forgotten. Yet, other countries have significantly lower gun violence rates that do not even come close to America’s average of 12,000 murders a year. There are many reasons why this is the case.Different cultures and views on guns for example. Spoken from a French perspective, “….in France you are raised to believe that guns are bad in the same way that in America guns are a normalized part of life” (How Gun Policy in the US Differs from France, Other Countries). It really is the policies of guns that then create the type of culture; if gun policies aren’t made a big deal, then Americans will treat guns like a necessity. There is something very wrong about the fact that any person can easily get a gun and kill roughly twenty people in a school or a movie theatre.

There are many arguments as to why America has the highest gun violence rate in the world. Initially, people blame  music, movies, TV shows, and violent video games. In reality, that is not so much of a valid explanation, because in other countries people often listen to the same music, watch the same TV shows and movies, and play the same video games . The gun violence in other developed countries like the United States is significantly lower, and it is extremely rare to turn on the TV and hear about a mass shooting in France or  China. When other countries give their opinion of the frequent shootings in the United States they often blame gun crazy culture, insufficient gun control laws, and unacceptable ownership of guns. However, the one that stood out the most was the insufficiency of gun control laws.  For example, following the Newtown shooting, the official voice of China’s news agency, “…. called for the United States to quickly adopt stricter gun controls….” (China Calls for 'No Delay' on Gun Controls in U.S.). That was the response from many countries, including Australia, Germany, England, and France. Truly the issue is the policy and the easy access of guns in the United States.

Gun violence kills 12,000 Americans a year on average, and 66.6% of all homicides are gun related in the United States (A Land Without Guns: How Japan Has Virtually Eliminated Shooting Deaths). Easy access and  gun policies are the ones to blame. It needs to be reminded how easy it is to get a gun in the United States. In select Walmarts, K-marts, and sporting goods, one can easily buy a gun and corresponding ammo. These are the same places where two teenage boys from Columbine, Colorado had gotten their bullets to murder 12 members of their high school in the 1999 Columbine High school massacre. As devastating as this was, this is just an incident that has continued to be repeated. The following school massacres included those at Virginia Tech (2007), Sandy Hook elementary (2012), and most recently at University of California, Santa Barbara (2014). Those are just a few out of hundreds that have taken place, although the others weren’t as massive as these. Schools aren’t the only targets, for example the 2012 Aurora massacre that took place in Colorado killed 12 people and not to forget the homicides that the news stations present nearly every night.

If someone could just pull out a gun if they wanted to and go on a shooting rampage, that is a problem with gun policy and access, particularly if a child can grab a gun so easily and commit these acts. There is a big difference between someone who’s “mad” and has a gun and someone who’s “mad” and does not have a gun: in one scenario the person could kill up to a dozen people. In China a similar event  took place in a preschool. A crazed man showed up with a knife and slashed 20 children; there were no fatalities, there were, however, injuries (China Calls for ‘No Delay’ on Gun Control in U.S).  Since the country has a strict ban on guns, he was not able to access a weapon that can cause a mass killing. The difference is evident: if there isn’t access to a gun, no one will shoot. The same applies to someone in a bar who has gotten mad at  another person, and with a concealed gun, he or she killed that person. Without a gun, the worst thing is that he or she could’ve broken the other person’s nose. People want to use “American culture” as a reason for gun violence, but it really is a scapegoat for the real problem, which is access to guns. But it is the U.S.’s gun policies that creates this “gun crazy” country, since the policies are lax, so too are the attitudes, versus how it would be with stricter gun laws.

The second amendment plays no part in a modern society, and should be outlawed from the constitution. Truly, the original purpose of the 2nd amendment was not to grant guns for individual use, but for the security of the militia. In this article by the Violence Policy Center, it explains the “hidden history” of the 2nd amendment, “the purpose of assuring this constituency that congress could not use its newly acquired power to deprive the states of an armed militia. It continues to say “it was not hunting, self-defense, national defense or resistance to governmental tyranny, but slave control” (Second Amendment History). Today there is no militia, slaves, or slaveholders, therefore, the 2nd amendment has no value in a modern society and should be banished. What good has it done? Americans with guns claim it is for self-defense, yet what defense when they have killed unarmed people walking in their neighborhood at night? It is fair to say that the majority of Americans don’t agree with  current gun laws corresponding with the 2nd amendment. Two thirds of Americans have called for regulations following the Columbine massacre, yet nearly two decades later little progress has been achieved (Why Americans Can’t Pass Gun Control).

Every amendment in the Bill of Rights is designed to protect  citizens from government abuse. In other words, the right to bear arms protects citizens from  future regimes that could wreak havoc and cause oppression. For example, the system of checks and balances limits one branch of government from dominating the other, and the 2nd amendment is the citizen’s check against its government. The Declaration of Independence makes it clear that citizens reserve the right to rebellion. It is a privilege to not be shackled to the tyranny of a government, but it is also a curse because gun loving Americans take advantage of gun culture and abuse  the laws. The 2nd Amendment scares  Americans, because it makes them  terrified of other citizens by allowing them the right to have guns in their  homes or even on them in public. The means of self-defense is really the means of paranoia; Americans have been taught to not trust one another and live in constant fear of their neighbor. Comparing the rate of gun violence in the U.S. to the rest of the developed world is problematic because the American historical experience is unlike any other. The United States has the world’s longest democracy. Americans need to ask the question whether “the right to bear arms” is that important, because by not doing so they are accepting mass murders as a part of life.

After one major shooting massacre one would think gun policies and access to guns would change immediately, but the path to new gun policies continue to have hurdles. After Newtown, gun control garnered  attention from Congress, but for a short period of time. The topic of gun control seems to have not been discussed until the next shooting. A similar opinion was shared, “It seems familiar to the media, who reflexively transform the victims into heroes and the perpetrator into a telegenic outsider. It feels familiar to the politicians, who find only empty clichés. And it feels familiar to the nation, which mourns for the short time and then clicks away.” (Mad About Guns: Americas Deadly Weapons Obsession). This is true because, although it certainly is not the first time, there will be a tragic shooting  in which the country will be in complete shock, and then this cycle will repeat again and again. It’s like a game, a dangerous and sickening game of who’s next, who are the next victims and how will congress fail the majority of Americans again. It has been a struggle to pass gun control laws in the United States, due to the many hurdles.

Even after the horrific tragedy at Newtown President Obama has had little success enacting substantial gun control laws. The NRA (National Rifle Association) is a major hurdle in regulations. Many Americans that are in favor of gun control blame the NRA for influencing a “gun loving” culture in America, given the fact that they are a wealthy organization.  The reason why Obama and the Democratic Party have failed to respond is because the NRA is very powerful, “NRA has money because it is powerful, not the other way around” (Why America Can’t Pass Gun Control). The NRA is powerful because they are cunning at derailing the construction of the political system and pinpointing swing voters’ congressional districts. The importance of this is that Mitt Romney had carried 228 out of 435 house districts (52.4 percent) during the 2012 election against Obama, but Obama had won the popular vote by 4 points (Why America Can’t Pass Gun Control). Its predicted in 2014 that the Democrat party will have a hard time working their way back up to the House since they will have to run against Republican leaning districts.  The 2012 Presidential Election resulted in 35 districts, which were battleground states controlled by the House; this gives tremendous power to undecided voters that live in swing states. As a result this all benefits the NRA, giving them more power since many NRA members live in rural swing states. The NRA has a lot of political power, in which they can spend 18 million dollars on Presidential Elections and on senator votes. The NRA’s job has been made easier since they have 35 swing districts they can target, which allows small numbers of NRA voters to form a strong voting bloc, since only 5 percent of a vote in a swing district can make all the difference. This gives pro-gun swing voter and NRA advocates immense influence in the United States political system. It is possible for Obama to ban the authorization of semi-automatic rifles, “But any hope that he will lead an effort to enact substantive gun control is pure fantasy…demography is destiny” (Why America Can’t Pass Gun Control).


The Mount