Gun Control … As with any controversial issue, the facts tend to get twisted and it can be hard to tell fact from fiction. Before you decide your stance on gun control, take a step back and look at all the facts and statistics with an unbiased eye. Our ultimate guide to the gun control debate will help you see both sides of the story from two completely different perspectives.
INTRO: The Policies and Suggested Changes
The gun control debate isn’t black and white. Anti-gun control activists believe American citizens have a right to own guns and the government should not be able to put restrictions on gun ownership. Pro-gun control supporters feel that the government should have strict gun laws, making it hard for private citizens to obtain guns. On both sides of the fence, you can find extremists. There are also those who sway along the top of the fence, believing that guns should be controlled but not too limited.
The argument centers around the Second Amendment of the Constitution, which states, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” There are different ways to interpret this amendment, and that’s where the trouble lies.
The current firearms policy is based on the Gun Control Act of 1968, a law preventing criminals, children under the age of 18, and select other groups from buying guns. In 1993, there was an amendment to this law requiring people to obtain a background check before being able to purchase a gun from a federally licensed dealer. There are ways around this law, so not everyone who legally owns a gun has had a background check.
In 1993, there was an amendment to this law requiring people to obtain a background check before being able to purchase a gun from a federally licensed dealer. There are ways around this law, so not everyone who legally owns a gun has had a background check.
Those who are pro-gun control want to limit the types of guns allowed in US homes. Currently, there are very few limitations. For a short time period semiautomatic weapons were banned, but that’s no longer the case. Today, no laws ban semiautomatic guns, .50 caliber rifles, or large-capacity ammunition magazines.
1. Where do criminals get their guns?
It doesn’t matter. What matters is that criminals will always find ways to get their hands on weapons. That could be guns, knives, or even bombs. What matters is that most criminals do not want to face confrontation. If we armed more responsible citizens, we would see a reduction in crime. If every teacher in this country over the age of 30 had the option to conceal carry, do you think criminals would target schools? Think that’s fair fetched? In Utah teachers can carry guns. Do you know how many mass shootings they’ve had in Utah schools? 0. Take this same model and spread it across the country. Arm responsible ADULTS who are mentally capable and over age 30.
Illegal guns don’t grow on trees- they come from a legal source. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives estimates that in 2012, 190,342 registered guns were lost or stolen. A majority of those weapons were stolen from the homes and vehicles of legal gun owners. Legal guns are getting into the hands of criminals.
In 2012, 190,342 registered guns were lost or stolen.
It’s no mystery where guns for mass shootings come from. Between 1982 and 2012, research shows that 49 out of a total of 62 mass shootings were done with a weapon obtained legally. Most of these shootings were done with semi-automatic weapons. A ban on semi-automatic weapons might prevent more mass shootings.
2. Do countries without guns have lower crime rates?
The United States has the highest rate of gun ownership per person in the world. More guns = more gun-related crime, right? Wrong. Data proves that the US has the highest rate or gun ownership but does not have the highest firearm murder rate by any means. Switzerland, which is ranked 3rd for gun ownership, has a relatively low rate of homicide by firearm as well. Countries like Italy, Finland, and Serbia also have a high amount of guns per 100 people and yet have low rates of homicide by firearm. It’s further evidence that guns don’t equal crime.
A Harvard study went on to show that countries with more guns do have lower crime rates. Countries like Norway, Finland, France, and Germany have plenty of guns, but still maintain low crime rates. On the other hand countries like Bermuda have banned guns altogether and yet their per capita murder rate has skyrocketed to almost double the global average. Gun ownership has nothing to do with crime.
Oh, and gun free China? Headline: Man stabs 22 children.
Considering that countries without guns seem to have very low crime rate, taking away guns clearly reduces crime. Japan is a perfect example. Most guns are illegal in Japan, so very few people actually own guns. The homicide by firearm rate is astonishingly low. In 2008, there were only 11 cases of murder attributed to guns, compare that to the USA’s 12,000 firearm related murders and the data seems to support the argument that fewer guns = less crime.
3. Are guns useful in self-defense situations?
It’s difficult to find statistics on the effectiveness of guns in self-defense because crimes that are stopped are never crimes and we don’t have stats for crimes that don’t happen. That said, there is some information to provide insight on the issue.
When someone is threatening you or your family, having a gun can keep you safe. In 1994 (yes that was a long time ago), a US study revealed that people were able to protect themselves with a gun around 1.5 million times. Even as a gun advocate I think that sounds excessive. Other studies show a smaller number. A more recent study found that,
“Defensive gun use by victims is at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year, in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008.”
The same study reveals that when guns are used for self-defense, the victims have a lower rate of injury then unarmed victims.
In regards to mass shootings, it is true that guns have not been effective at stopping mass shootings but people, at least in my lifetime, don’t attempt mass shootings in places where they know they’ll be fired back on. Schools, movie theaters, churches are the targets because they are easy targets. That doesn’t make it right, it’s sick, but taking guns away from sane, law abiding citizens is not the solution. Then all you need to do is look at other countries with stricter gun laws to see that mass shootings still happen. Checkout this article full of facts,
Make guns harder to get, and explosives become the weapon of choice…The biggest mass killings in US history have used bombs (like Bath, Michigan), fire (like Happyland Nightclub) or airliners. There is no law you can pass, nothing you can say or do, which will make some not be evil…The average number of people shot in a mass shooting event when the shooter is stopped by law enforcement: 14. The average number of people shot in a mass shooting event when the shooter is stopped by civilians: 2.5. The reason is simple. The armed civilians are there when it started.
When there’s a mass shooter, owning a gun doesn’t help at all. In fact, between 1980 and 2012 a gun stopped a pathetic 1.6% of mass shootings and people have been killed while trying to take down a shooter with their own gun – owning a gun puts you in harm’s way. Unless you’re a trained soldier or member of law enforcement, guns don’t help. Most people with guns don’t know how to handle them in a high-stress situation.
In a recent study, it was found that guns are rarely used for self-defense. The Violence Policy Center determined that people being threatened by a property crime tried to protect themselves with a gun .1% of the times they were threatened. People aren’t using guns for self-defense, so there’s no reason for people to own gun for protection.
A cook at the Waffle House in Atlanta thought he was defending himself when he took out his gun and threatened two customers who refused to leave. Instead of scaring off the men, he shot and killed one of them. Although trying to defend himself from a fight, the cook ended up murdering someone. Relaxed gun laws make it too easy for this to happen.
4. Is gun availability linked to suicide?
Gun ownership has no impact on suicide. Although the rate of gun ownership has increased since 1970, the suicide rate has not changed. Without access to guns, people with suicidal tendencies find other ways to commit suicide.
When people have access to guns, they are more likely to commit suicide. Most gunshot wounds aren’t accidental. In 2010, suicide was the cause of every 3 out of 5 gunshot wound deaths. A study done by the CDC showed about 50% of all suicides in 2010 involved a gun. Just having guns around can be enough motivation for someone to pull the trigger- having a gun can push someone with suicidal thoughts over the edge.
About 85% of those that attempt suicide using a gun die. In general, it is estimated that 1 person out of 25 who attempt suicide die by suicide. If those people didn’t have access to guns, we would have had a chance to save a life.
5. Do more legal guns lead to more crime?
Crime will happen whether or not people have access to guns. If more guns caused an increase in crime, then the US would have an increasing crime rate. Yet, evidence doesn’t support this. The DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics shows a 39% drop in gun-related homicides throughout the US between 1993 and 2011, but a drastic increase in gun ownership. A record number of people (2.78 million) went through a background check to obtain guns in December of 2012. If more guns led to more crime, one would expect the crime rate to skyrocket, not to drop.
Most firearm related deaths aren’t even caused by crime. From 2000 to 2010, 61% of the deaths from firearms were suicides. Guns don’t play a major part…
In Kenneshaw, Georgia, the head of every household is required to own and maintain a gun. This law was enacted in 1982, and by 2005 the crime rate was much lower than it was before guns were required. Gun ownership has limited crime, not contributed to it.
Oh..and don’t even get me started on Australia. Gun haters love to talk about down under but what they leave out is that Australian citizens NEVER had a constitutional right to own firearms. Guns in Australia were on as needed basis mostly for hunters or those that needed them for work. Even when they did enact the 1997 buyback program, they didn’t take away all the guns. The gun crime rate in Australia has gone up and down since the buyback program was enacted but the fluctuation good or bad is not attributed to the buyback program. Australia is not relevant to gun control arguments and people need to get over it.
Guns play a major part in homicides; more than 2/3rds of homicides in the US involved guns in 2011. Without so many guns in the US, homicides would decrease.
A recent study theorized that lenient right-to-carry laws increase aggravated assaults (an attempt to cause bodily harm) by 8% or more. Based on 20 years of data, statistical models were created and all of the data shows that guns create crime.
6. How frequent are gun accidents?
Only .5% of fatal accidents are gun related. It’s more likely that you would be killed by a natural disaster than a gun accident.
.5% is .5% too many. That’s still around 500 human beings not even counting the non-fatal injuries! An Idaho State University professor was exercising his right to carry a concealed weapon while he was teaching class. The gun was in his pocket and accidentally discharged, shooting him in the foot. When gun-control is strict, these accidents are far less common. Guns aren’t worth the risk.
Follow The Facts
Gun control isn’t an issue that can get swept under the rug. With so many individuals owning guns, gun control will continue to be a hot-button topic. Having all the facts is essential to being able to discuss the topic, whether you’re pro-gun control, anti-gun control or somewhere in the middle, feel free to respectfully and factually continue the conversation below.
One tip…. Do you really want to help? Then stop reading newspapers who report on the killer. Don’t learn their names. Don’t share their stories. Stop. Just stop. If you share a story about a killer, learn his name, read an article, then you are contributing to the problem.