The Big US Gun Debate - My Turn

Too many times have we seen US schools and colleges devastated by shootings, watched too many students get an education in grief. Isn't it time for a new approach to gun violence?

I live in the United Kingdom so it may not be my place to speak on this issue as it is mostly based in America, but I feel as though an extra spoon in the mixing pot won't do too much harm. In the US, more than 60% of gun deaths are suicides, the vast majority of the rest are homicides. Gun enthusiasts may scoff and sneer at including suicides, saying that without guns people would kill themselves by other means. In many cases, though, that’s not true. Here in Great Britain, people used to kill themselves by putting their heads in the oven and asphyxiating themselves with coal gas. This accounted for almost half of British suicides in the late 1950s, but then Britain then switched from coal gas to natural gas, which is much less lethal. Sticking one’s head in the oven was no longer a reliable way to kill oneself — and there was surprisingly little substitution of other methods. Suicide rates dropped, and they stayed at a lower level.

Ovens weren't, but they were made safer. The same needs to be done with guns. I'm a liberal person but even I can admit that "liberalist" efforts, such as a ban on assault weapons, wouldn't work and would spark a huge backlash from the National Rifle Association (and I don't want angry people with guns after me). Facts and evidence must be used in order to make a real difference, such as is used for cigarettes. I highly doubt anyone will ever have to balls to eliminate all guns in America, so instead it has to be figured out how to coexist with them.

Some say that cars are a bigger risk to us all than guns and so ^hilariously^ suggest that we ban those too. Actually, cars exemplify the public health approach we need to apply to guns. Cars were never banned, but driver’s licenses, seatbelts, airbags, padded dashboards, safety glass, etc are all prerequisites. Thus, the auto fatality rate has reduced by 95%.

The statistics on gun deaths are shocking and appalling: an average of 92 people die every day in America as a result of guns. Since 1970, more Americans have died from guns than died in all US wars going back to the American Revolution in the 1700s (1.45 million gun deaths since 1970 - including suicides, murders and accidents). 

Consider this: in America, more preschoolers are shot dead each year (82 in 2013) than police officers are in the line of duty (27 in 2013).

Public health experts cite many ways we could live more safely with guns, and many of them have broad popular support. A poll this year found that the vast majority of people, even gun-owners, favour universal background checks, tighter regulation of gun dealers, safe storage requirements in homes, and a 10-year prohibition on possessing guns for anyone convicted of domestic violence, assault or similar offences.

We should also be looking towards technology to create "smart guns", weapons that fire only with a PIN or fingerprint, for example. This isn't technology reserved for 100 years from now, with a bit of work it can be done now.

So what's the problem with politicians and why are they doing relatively little about this issue?

The gun lobby argues that the problem isn’t firearms; it’s crazy people. This is awful yet true, America’s mental health system is a disgrace. To me, the "crazy" ones are those who are sitting back and letting it happen, coming up with excuse after excuse until all of the carnage leaves America resembling a battlefield. The logic that 'if more law-abiding citizens had guns, there would be fewer mass shootings' is completely flawed  confounding to the point of nihilism. Where would it end? Should every teacher have
 a gun in their desk to prevent another massacre like Newtown? Every vicar? Every shopper, every commuter, every person who just wants to enjoy their life? Surely this would reach a point where everything is reduced to anarchy and violence in every single social venue in the country.

If one can make a compelling argument as to why we have laws requiring safety locks on medicines to protect children, but no law requiring a safety lock on a gun, please inform me of it. If you can make a compelling argument why a mentally disturbed youth should be able to easily stockpile military-grade weapons because of loopholes in the law and no background checks then again, please inform me of it.

Personal handguns and hunting rifles will never be banned in America and even suggesting such a thing will end up with nothing at all being achieved. If one classroom of children can be saved just by requiring background checks, wouldn't it be worth it? If the answer is no, or the answer is just more vicious rhetoric, then we should all be ashamed.

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1 comment:

  1. I (sadly) agree with all of this. It is a fundamental flaw in their system to allow the possession of firearms by everyone and anyone.