Guns in America: Students share opposing opinions on American gun legislation

Ellie Farner

I think we can all agree that the world would be a better place if assault rifles, weapons of mass destruction, hand grenades, and bourbon had never been invented. However, they have and the reality is that trying to stop people from abusing any of the above products is a futile effort.

New laws and regulations cannot impact the guns already in circulation. New regulations would simply hurt law-abiding citizens who would never think of committing a crime with one of these weapons. While imposing more laws seem like a good idea, hundreds of millions of guns are already available and easily attainable.

There are about 300 million legally-owned guns in America. Anyone who is willing to harm others with a weapon will have little difficulty obtaining one. More regulations will simply change the channel of distribution. From 2012 to 2015, the FBI reported that an estimated 1.2 million guns were stolen. Another study published by the Trans-Border Institute and Igarape Institute estimates that 253,000 guns illegally come across the U.S. border every year from Mexico. The government has no way to regulate these guns or prevent criminals from illegally obtaining them.

Consider what happened in the 1920’s when the government tried to ban the sale of alcohol. The new regulations banning the production, distribution and sale of this product had very little impact on consumers. Alcohol was still produced, distributed and consumed in large numbers.  The only thing that happened was that the distribution went from legal to illegal. When alcohol was banned, it didn’t stop anyone who wanted to buy, sell or make alcohol. Those that previously used the alcohol responsibly were hurt. Those that abused alcohol now had to change where they purchased it in order to continue abusing this product.

While it is true, as mentioned in the opinion above, that Canada has more gun regulations and less major mass shootings than the United States, those numbers are misleading because they do not consider the respective size of each country. California alone has a higher population than Canada does. The United States has over 8 times as many people as Canada and so, based on the population, Canada has had more major mass shootings per capita since 2005 than the U.S.

What tends to get lost in the debate is the fact that guns save lives. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) concluded that  “… defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million, in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008.” Guns are used defensively just as much, if not more than they are used offensively, during violent crimes. These situations, however, often do not make the evening news, as the story seems less dramatic.

Most gun owners are very responsible. They register and license their gun, they go through safety courses and do all that they can to own and use their guns safely. Those aren’t the people who commit mass shootings, but they’re also the only ones who will be affected by new  gun control laws. Establishing longer waiting periods, more extensive background checks or other forms of gun control only affects people who are trying to legally obtain a gun. Making guns harder to access only changes things for those who are willing to follow the law. Mass shooters are not people willing to follow the law. If they don’t follow a clear law that makes murder illegal, why would they go through the process to legally obtain a gun, especially when they can just turn to easier and illegal means of purchasing a weapon?

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