By Joy Francke
Gun violence is occurring so often in the United States that it is becoming a new norm. This tragic phenomenon has resulted in the loss of tens of thousands across the nation every year. Obtaining a gun in the United States needs to be drastically more challenging than it currently is.
Gun control in the US is a very controversial topic. Despite the countless horrors that occur because of firearms, many argue that having a gun at home is a necessity to protecting oneself and one’s family. The most powerful group in condemning and disagreeing with almost all forms of gun control is the National Rifle Association (NRA). The organization argues that under the second amendment, the right to bear arms is crucial and should not be regulated or adjusted more than the meager amount it is today.
“We’re proud defenders of history’s patriots and diligent protectors of the Second Amendment,” says the NRA, as reported on their website.
Partially due to organizations like the NRA fighting to keep guns easily available, the United States has an incredibly high number of guns in households.
53% of households in America have a gun, and 67% of the gun owners site their reasoning as protection according to Pew Research Center.
Many supporters of the Second Amendment argue that good guys with guns are needed to stop a bad guy with a gun. This is often not the case.
Take the recent shooting in Las Vegas. The shooter had 23 firearms and shot at concert-goers from a hotel room, murdering dozens of innocent people. Even if the witnesses, or good guys, were armed, they would not have been able to slow the firing from above. In a terrifying, unexpected situation, the odds of someone being able to aim perfectly, remain calm, and avoid hitting anyone but the target are incredibly slim.
Guns are also severely impacting the lives of children. Heartbreaking statistics show that seven children die daily in the United States due to gun-violence, making it the third leading cause of death for American kids. A common misconception around gun violence is that it is increasing as dramatically globally. This is false. In fact, when comparing American children to other high-income countries, children at age 4 and below are 34 times more likely, and children ages 5 to 14 are 14 times more likely, to be killed by a gun.
On the topic of school shootings there have been over 200 nationwide since January of 2013. The guns used often come from households. “Of shootings perpetrated by minors at primary and secondary schools and for which the source of the firearm was known, more than half the kids obtained the gun at home,” says research group Everytown For Gun Safety.
There is also a growing problem surrounding the link between gun attainability and suicide rates. Approximately 90% of gun suicide attempts end in death, while the death rate for other forms in abundantly lower. “Across all suicide attempts not involving a firearm, less than 10% will result in death,” says research group Everytown For Gun Safety.
This means that if the suicidal person does not have access to a gun, their chance of survival is much greater.
Attaining a gun in the United States needs to be much harder. The US owns almost half of the civilian guns worldwide, yet makes up less than 5% of the world’s population. This is a major factor is the nation’s struggle with gun violence.
For only $200 a citizen can purchase a handgun, and for $1,500 an assault rifle. In comparison to other countries this is cheap. On top of this, for a legal citizen over 21 qualifying for a gun does not require much more than a background check. And getting a gun illegally is as easy as asking to borrow a friend’s or stealing a parent’s.
In contrast, other high-income countries such as Denmark require the individual to pass a background check, be licensed, explain why they need the firearm, and be input into law enforcement records, allowing all guns to be accounted for.
Acquiring a gun is even harder in the Netherlands, where the owner is required to be a member of a gun club for at least a year and the only two acceptable reasons for attaining a gun are hunting and target shooting. Owning a gun is viewed as a privilege, not a right, and protection is not an acceptable motive. There are also specific storage restrictions and regular storage checks from the government.
In 2010 a study by the American Journal of Medicine, found that Denmark and the Netherlands had only 2 homicides by firearm per 1 million people each, while the US had 36.
This number is unacceptable. To make the United States a safer place for everyone, attaining a gun needs to be much more challenging and tedious, similar to other high-income countries with innumerably fewer accounts of gun violence. There should also be a push for safe gun storage. Steps need to be taken to lower the calamitous number of tragic deaths.