Debate about it: Gun control in the United States of America

Ayyan Chaudhry, Opinions Editor

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With the “normalization” of mass shootings within American society, it is imperative that the US Federal Government takes action to prevent gun violence. The best possible way to curb violent crimes committed by guns is to remove guns altogether. In Australia, after the Port Arthur Massacre, the government, under Prime Minister John Howard, implemented the most comprehensive gun laws seen in a developed country. Some of the gun laws banned the purchase of semiautomatic weapons and removed the ability to purchase gun for many. While many may argue the Second Amendment protects their right to a firearm, in reality, times are much different than the start of the American Revolution, and removing guns may be a necessity to ensure a stable, thriving democracy. If the United States remains complacent to acts of violence, societal welfare will erode, leading to a lower quality of life.

After the Port Arthur massacre, Australia passed some of the strictest laws of any country, which lead to an enormous drop in the country’s mass shootings (two people or more) and gun crime. According to BBC, “Less than two weeks after the Port Arthur massacre, all six Australian states agreed to enact the same sweeping gun laws banning semi-automatic rifles and shotguns – weapons that can kill many people quickly. They also put more hurdles between prospective gun owners and their weapons. Australia has 28-day waiting periods, thorough background checks, and a requirement to present a ‘justifiable reason’ to own a gun.” After such restriction, Australia has never had an occurance of a mass shooting. BBC reports, “The number of Australia’s mass shootings dropped from 11 in the decade before 1996 to zero in the years since.” If the United States implemented some of the gun restrictions which Australia has implemented, gun violence would decrease exponentially.

Take, for example, a universal background check. This simple impediment for criminals to get firearms is only implemented in 13 states within the U.S. Studies find that, if this required was established in all 50 states, then gun violence could decreased exponentially. According to Boston University, “A nationwide study that shows just 9 of 25 state gun laws are effective in reducing firearm deaths suggests that if three laws implemented in some states were adopted nationwide, they could reduce gun deaths by more than 80 percent.” In states that have adopted such laws, there are less occurrences of mass shootings and gun death per acura. The Centers for Disease Control finds that, “From 2009 to 2012, states that required background checks on all handgun sales or permits had 35% fewer gun deaths per capita than states without that background check requirement. Researchers have also found that, after adjusting for population, states that require background checks on all handgun sales experience less than half as many mass shooting incidents (52% fewer) as states without that background check requirement.” Such analytics support the fact that stronger restriction on guns within the U.S will save lives, a moral obligation the federal government has to its citizens.

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