The United States has gained quite a reputation for being gun happy among the industrialized world.
Unfortunately, the data only supports our notoriety. Although complete data for 2017 has yet to be released, over 420 mass shootings have taken place. That breaks down to over one mass shooting a day. These numbers don’t even consider those countless other smaller acts of gun violence. These numbers aren’t normal. Examining statistics from nations countries reveals some startling data. Oher industrialized countries just don’t seem to have the same gun problem we do. There are a lot of different factors that need to be considered.
However, no one can argue that their stricter gun control laws have nothing to do with this. Not surprising, there is a correlation between gun ownership and gun violence. Also not surprising is that American civilians own a lot of guns. Although only 37% of Americans report having a gun in their household, he U.S. has the highest firearm to civilian ratio in the world. Estimates claim that there are anywhere between 270 million and 310 million firearms owned by civilians in the U.S.
alone. That breaks down to pretty much one firearm per person. Research has provided countless pieces of evidence demonstrating the danger associated with such numbers. Yet, the U.S. continues to have some of the most lenient gun control laws of the industrialized world.
Why would the federal government enforce to allow such detrimental policies? They continue to allow gun regulation to be dictated by an amendment passed back in 1791. The second amendment argues that Americans have the rights to “bear arms.” There is a lot of controversy surrounding exactly what this right means.
All that is clear is that it was implemented in order to prevent the government from prohibiting weapons. Considering the political climate of the time, this law served an important purpose. However, it is not 1790 anymore. This amendment was written during the infancy of the U.S. A lot has changed over the last two centuries. We need to make changes to our laws accordingly.
While the rights of the constitution were meant to protect the people, they are unable to keep up with technological advances and cultural shifts. Using the second amendment to defend your handgun or hunting rifle is debatable. Using the second amendment to justify your AK-47 is ridiculous. The second amendment was written nearly a century before the first machine gun was even invented. There is a huge difference between the firearms that existed back in 1791 and the machine guns available today.
There is no justifiable reason to why a civilian should be entitled to one as a God-given right. Machine guns do a lot more damage than your typical firearm. They can fire multiple rounds of ammunition without reloading with the single pull of a trigger. These guns were not designed for hunting sport or personal defense. They were designed by militia with one intention in mind -killing masses. There is no better evidence for the sheer destruction these weapons can cause than the tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017. Stephen Paddock opened fire on a crowd of over 22,000 people with a fully-automatic machine gun. He took the lives of 58 and left more than 500 injured before turning the gun on himself.
Having the access to the military-grade weapon allowed him to commit the largest mass shooting in American history. This kind of gun ownership serves no other purpose than to show off or cause tragedy. This is not the kind of weapon that the second amendment could have even predicted. How can someone argue the centuries old amendment supports this? Although the government has taken some legal measures against machine guns (such as banning the sale of new fully-automatic rifles), it clearly isn’t enough.
Although difficult, it is still perfectly legal to obtain one of the guns registered before 1986 which got grandfathered in. Even with the number of extensive fees and strict restrictions put in place to discourage this kind of gun ownership, obtaining one is still legal. As long as legally obtaining a machine gun is possible, it is possible for it to fall into the wrong hands. Without serving any real, functional purpose, allowing any civilian machine gun ownership outside of the military seems like a risk that isn’t worth taking. Putting this ban on military grade weapons would not even infringe on the rights of other gun owners. These weapons are relatively rare and are not the kind of thing your grandpa keeps in the shed for deer. Still, we as a nation have failed to do implement these stricter gun control laws without facing significant resistance.
Those in favor of keeping all weapons legal often have arguments surrounding the principal of ownership. These people argue that they want to limit government involvement and maintain their rights as declared in the constitution. Although I can understand the argument for a limited government, there comes a time where you have to evaluate your priorities. There are other things more important than preserving the rights to own military grade assault weapons. Things like keeping guns out of churches and schools.
We should be working on trying to reduce the amount of mass shootings we have. We need to start following the example of other industrialized nations who have abandoned lenient gun ownership laws in favor of safety. We have do decide whether we would rather be a nation with excessively lenient gun ownership, or a nation that does what it can to keep its citizens safe. Data shows we can’t have it both ways.
I believe that keeping our citizens safe is more important than being able to brag that I can own a military grade weapon. No one is entitled to own such an instrument of destruction.