San Bernardino. Colorado Springs. Newtown. Sandy Hook. These towns are just a few on the ever-growing list of mass shooting locations in the United States. Gun violence has been an issue in this country for years. The Huffington Post reported, “15 of the 25 worst mass shootings in the past 50 years have occurred in the US.” That is 60 percent of the worst mass shootings in the world.
The New York Times states that America has a murder rate that is “roughly 15 times” more than other countries. Why is it that America is plagued so badly with violence like mass shootings? The answer is simple: other countries that have experienced mass shootings have passed tight gun control laws. For example, in Australia there was a mass shooting in 1995 where 35 people died. As a result, the Australian government passed tighter gun laws, banned assault weapons and tightened the license process. As a result, “firearm homicides in Australia dropped 59 percent between 1995 and 2006.” An astounding comparison can be made between Japan and the US in 2008. Japan only had 11 incidents involving gun violence, while the US had 12,000.
The U.S., despite all of the mass shootings and violence, has not followed in these other countries’ footsteps. No new legislation has been passed to stiffen regulation on guns. In January, Obama held a conference to talk about gun control and new possible legislation. According to the New York Times, Obama has been pushing for “tougher laws that would target criminals while preserving the Second Amendment rights for law-abiding citizens.” Despite his emotional plea, many conservatives are unsure if their Second Amendment rights will be upheld.
These kinds of tragedies always heat up the debate of gun control. Politicians from both sides use these events as a platform to stand on, declaring whether we need more guns or need better gun control. Conservative Republicans believe that if more citizens are armed, then armed assailants can be stopped. Donald Trump tweeted after the shooting incident in Paris that it was ironic that Paris had such a tragedy yet also has strict gun control laws. While this tweet was horribly poor taste, Trump is voicing the opinion of many conservatives. Liberal Democrats, on the other hand, believe that there should be stricter gun control laws.
One of the main issues that pro-gun believers have with gun control is that they do not want their weapons to be taken away. It would be a violation of the Second Amendment to attempt to do so. However, the driving force behind the gun control movement is not to take away guns all together (of course, just like most issues, there are extremists who believe in getting rid of guns all together). Moderate believers in gun control wish to change legislation to ensure tighter background checks. These background checks would ensure that no one with a bad criminal record would be able to purchase a firearm. Also, those with mental illnesses would be restricted from acquiring any kind of firearm. A majority of citizens would still be able to obtain and keep a gun as long as they follow proper procedure.
The United States’ gun related crime statistics are deplorable. Legislation has already recognized that we as a nation have a problem, as shown by Obama’s address. Yet, no progress is being made, resulting in the number of shootings inclining at an alarming pace. Gun control measures need to be implemented; there is no doubt about it. Gun control is the only way to ensure good citizens are able to uphold their rights while also ensuring that guns do not fall into the wrong hands. Citizens deserve the right to bear arms, but national security needs to be made a top priority.