Within the past few years school shootings, mass murders, and accidental occurrences have taken the lives of many young children and adults. Gun violence in America kills 30,000 and injures 70,000 individuals each year. This has affected most everyone from ages as young as five. The debate of whether or not to enforce more laws on guns has been a big issue in America. There are just as many individuals that want stricter laws as there is the ones that oppose it. How can America have better gun control? One option is having better background checks and mental health evaluations on those that want to own a gun. Another option is making sure to properly educate gun owners, teaching them how to use, and store guns efficiently. Lastly, limiting the amount of guns an individual can own per household can contribute to more effective gun control. Having better gun control will result in fewer crimes and deaths.
Making it harder to buy guns could keep the wrong individuals from legally obtaining one. It is important that individuals are getting proper background checks and mental health evaluations. Individuals with a history of mental health issues, domestic abuse, and criminal records should not be able to obtain a gun. In the article “What should America Do about Gun Violence?” author Wayne LaPierre states, “I think we can also agree that our mental health system is broken. We need to look at the full range of mental health issues, from early detection and treatment, to civil commitment laws, to privacy laws that needlessly prevent mental health records from being included in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.” The federal law doesn’t require states to make mental health records as part of the background check system. That could potentially lead to mentally ill individuals owning guns. For example, the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary that took the lives of twenty-eight students and staff members was considered the deadliest mass shooting at a grade school in U.S. history.
The shooter Adam Lanza’s acts of slaughter strongly suggested undiagnosed schizophrenia. LaPierre blamed “delusional killers for violence in the United States, while calling for a national registry of persons with mental illness.” Shortly after the shooting, many states passed bills that required mental health professionals to report patients that showed concerns of mental illnesses to local officials who could then confiscate any guns they might possess. The article “Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and the Politics of American Firearms” states, “Reports suggest that up to 60% of perpetrators of mass shootings in the United States since 1970 displayed symptoms including acute paranoia, delusions, and depression before committing their crimes.” Early detection of these signs could help mentally ill individuals get the help they need before it progresses to the point that they might commit serious crimes. Evidence strongly suggests that mass shooters are more often than not mentally ill. Making a change in our system that required better background checks and mental health evaluations could lead to a decrease in mass shootings in the U.S.
Another option that could help decrease gun violence in the U.S. is to educate gun owners better. Having gun owners take classes and learn to store guns properly can have a great affect. Teaching safe and responsible gun ownership is very important. It should be required that all gun owners complete a basic gun training but only about 61% of gun owners in the U.S. have received training in handling their guns. Most states don’t even require gun owners to be licensed, much less require them to be trained. There is a lot that goes into using a gun, and it’s important to know when to legally use it.
Teaching children gun safety is also important because there have been many cases in which children have had access to guns and accidentally shot someone. LaPierre states, “Our “Eddie Eagle” children’s safety program has taught over 25 million young children that if they see a gun, they should do four things: “Stop. Don’t touch. Leave the area. Tell an adult.” As a result of this and other private sector programs, fatal firearm accidents are at the lowest levels in more than 100 years.” This problem is could be improved even more by a simple action of teaching gun owners how to keep guns in a safe place where children cannot put themselves or others in danger.
The article, “Childhood Firearm Injuries in the United States”, concluded that, “On average, from 2012 to 2014, nearly 1300 children died each year in the United States from a firearm-related injury. Fifty-three percent of these were homicides, 38% were suicides, and 6% were unintentional firearm deaths; the remaining 3% were due to legal intervention and deaths of undetermined intent.” Guns are the third leading cause of death from ages one to seventeen years old. Guns are common in U.S. households and only 39% of families keep their guns locked, and unloaded. That leaves for a high risk of children and teenagers to access guns in their own homes. The U.S. should continue working to reduce gun violence by encouraging families to store guns safely.
Lastly, limiting the number of guns individuals can own per household is important to the contribution of reducing gun violence. Currently there is no federal legal limit on how many guns an individual can own in America. The average gun owner has at least seventeen guns which is way more than what it used to be. The 2017 Las Vegas shooting killed fifty-eight and injured 851 individuals. The perpetrator Stephan Paddock stockpiled thirty-three guns in twelve months and fired more than 1,1000 rounds. The incident reignited the issue of gun laws in the U.S. Many individuals were upset over the fact that it was legal for an individual like Stephan Paddock to own more than two guns without a justifiable reason.
The article “Two Guns Per Person”, explained a simple proposal that protects both Americans’ lives and liberty. It states, “Why shouldn’t we require someone who wants to own more than two firearms, and who isn’t legally in the gun business, to file an application? Send some paperwork to the Bureau of ATF; submit fingerprints and a photo; and send in a $200 fee along with the make, model, and number of additional weapons you’d like to purchase. You would agree to undergo a thorough criminal, domestic violence, and mental health background check, knowing that if a permit to purchase additional firearms were granted, such a background check would be performed every six months. Finally, and most important, the reason for requesting additional firearms would be stated on the application.” Following that proposal would have a huge impact on reducing mass murders.
Allowing individuals to own so many guns at time is simply making it easier for them to commit massive crimes. A Harvard University study found that, “For every person who uses a gun for self-defense, six others use them to commit a crime.” The number of individuals that actually use their guns for self-defense is nothing compared to the number of crimes being committed. It would be more effective to control the number of guns an individual can own rather than just allowing them to have as many as they wantt.
There is nothing more important than feeling safe at all times. Every student and every teacher should be safe at school. Individuals shouldn’t need to rely on carrying guns with them to feel safe. Lately individuals worry about sending their kids to school, going out to the movies, and even going to concerts because of the mass murders that have taken the lives of so many innocent individuals. Having better background checks, mental health evaluations, basic gun training, and limiting the number of guns an individual can own can all contribute to lowering the number of crimes and deaths a year. Although it’s hard to claim that gun control will prevent shootings, something must be done to prevent the devastation everyone is becoming accustomed to.