Second Amendment: Gun Violence Statistics

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Introduction

The right to bear arms was inserted into the constitution and has been something that has remained in place today. With all the violence and deaths by guns that has been occurring throughout the United States in the past decade, it has caused law makers and politicians to question that constitutional right and begin taking steps to eliminate and maintain its meaning. As stated in the United States constitution, “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.” (U.S. Constitution). Having been created in the late 1700’s, the bill of rights has served to protect and allow people the chance to stand up to government if things began to go sideways. Our founding fathers created these precedents to serve as a cushion to the people of the United States. For over two thousand years we have followed these precedents, but at the same time we have seen deadly violence increased and many blame guns for being a big part in that. Some of the biggest internal threats we face today include shootings at churches, schools, or other public places. They have caused major tragedies that many believe could have been avoided. Today, many gun owners are becoming concerned about politicians trying to take away the second amendment because it is taking away their legal rights. Many of these gun owners possess their weapons for hunting, sport, and home protection. To take away the second amendment, you would have to force these law-abiding citizens to give up their guns which would in the end be difficult to do. Throughout this paper we will break down the second amendment and understand why and how we have got to the point we have on gun possession today and what steps could be taken to help reduce the issue. At the end of the day it should be the people possessing the guns that we are focused on, rather than the gun itself, as statistics will show gun violence hasn’t increased that much over the past 30 years.

Defining the Problem

Guns today have played a major role in society for both positive and negative reasons. Due to politics and recent mass shootings, the concerns over possessing guns have increased and become an important topic of interest across the United States. There are many reasons for why we have reached the point we have today on guns, and the fight to end violence from them is being pursued more than ever before. When looking at the issue surfacing around gun control, concerns are raised over the second amendment and what the true meaning of that really is. When the constitution was created, it was a completely different time period in terms of how people live and interacted on a day to day basis. That is why many politicians have called for changes to the second amendment, or the elimination of it completely. For gun owners, this is outrageous as they believe their rights are being violated and they should be able to keep the guns that they legally own. Their argument is that it is to easy to purchase a gun both legally and illegally, causing the wrong people to come into possession of one and create the horrific crimes that have occurred over the past decade in schools, churches, and office buildings. This then creates an image over all the gun owners which isn’t necessarily the right thing to do. The fight between the two sides has created tons of attention to the issue and the pressure to solve it grows by the day. In the end you have one side arguing it’s the guns causing the problems, while the other side argues they should be focusing on the person for the blame, not the guns.

Background

For a long time, guns have played a major role in society and have helped shape the way we live. When introduced into the constitution, the goal of the second amendment was to allow people to own guns in case of a government emergency that needed society’s intervention and help. It would prevent a tyrannical form of government from coming to life and taking over the rights of the people. (Shaw, 2016) To have followed these rights for over two thousand years has been impressive, but gang violence and mass shootings have made this right become questioned more than ever. Recently, there have been some shootings that have occurred leading to the questioning of the second amendment. Mass shootings in California, Florida, Vegas, Pittsburg, and Texas did tremendous damage and took the lives of many innocent people. Those shootings have helped spark the debate because they were so deadly and occurred in places that were supposed to be safe from danger for ourselves and our kids. Although these mass shootings have led politicians to constantly question gun control, gang violence from ms-13 and gangs all over the United States have used guns as a main weapon of choice for their battles. The difference here is that these guns were being purchased off the streets illegally. Looking at the city of Chicago alone, there is almost two deaths a day from gun violence and the gangs are usually the ones to blame. Constantly fighting and looking for respect these criminals first thought to solving situations is by killing, and the ability for them to access these guns is way to convenient and easy.
Looking at the news and social media platforms is also important when talking about gun violence. Rappers in the United States have become so hungry for attention and fear that they are constantly rapping and talking about gun violence and crime like it is no big deal. Having grown up and seen this violence firsthand, many of them are creating videos which show them carrying assault rifles and other handguns bragging about what they have and would do with them. This type of exposure on the issue is hurtful and is helping encourage young children to partake in this violence thinking it’s acceptable. Finally, the news stations have played a crucial part in helping make guns the focus of violence. Even with all the protective measures that have been introduced to help reduce or limit gun violence, the problem is still occurring and has many people wondering if guns over people should be the first focus. While many people are using guns the correct ways, the select few who go out and commit these horrible crimes are the ones that should be looked at heavily. Understanding how and why they were able to purchase these guns along with their mental health is important in understanding where the violence is stemming from. In many of these mass shootings you have seen some severe physiological issues occurring within the shooter and that sometimes is overlooked because of the gun violence issue.

Data Collection

When trying to understand exactly how gun violence reached the level of conversation it has today, you are able to realize that speaking out about it was the main reason for that. In 2001 and 2014, there were about the same number of deaths that occurred throughout the year which show deaths haven’t been increasing that much from guns (Galea, Vaughan, 2018). Today, we experience about 34,000 deaths annually from firearms and its been around that number for nearly two decades (Galea, Vaughan, 2018). The most interesting part of this reading mentioned how mass shootings were accountable for only 1% of the deaths caused by firearms (Galea, Vaughan, 2018). That was intriguing to learn because mass shootings have been the reason why guns have become the center of attention when discussing gun violence. While many politicians are convinced stricter gun laws could have prevented mass shootings, statistics are showing that this is only part of a bigger problem at hand. A survey was conducted looking at both gun owners and non-gun owners. When asked 24 questions, 23 of the respondents were ok with restricting gun ownership (Barry, 2018). The questions were focused around things that should or could prevent someone from purchasing a gun and if they were supportive or un-supportive of it. When looking at the figure in the reading, you can see how non-gun owners support percentages were higher on most questions than gun owners which is completely understandable (Barry, 2018). People who don’t own firearms themselves are usually against guns and would be arguing that they are not necessary for citizens to possess.

Not a day goes by in the news today where you aren’t hearing about the issue of gun violence worldwide. Kids have seen a major concern aiming their way as school shootings from young individuals has created a conversation about the dangers of exposing our young kids to violence. In 2014, over 21 million dollars was spent on video games and two of the most popular were shooting and adventure games (Entertainment Software Association, 2014). The exposure to our youth is important to their growth and allowing them to engage in violent activities could hurt them getting older. As touched on earlier in the paper, the influences these young kids follow is also crucial because today grabbing attention and doing things that are wrong over social media are socially acceptable. That problem is creating bigger problems for our society and the constant violence we see from guns is only a problem that has been present and unsolved for over 30 years.

Solution One

Trying to combat the gun violence issue has been harder than many expected. Trying to take away the second amendment right from the people to solve the issue isn’t coming with ease and may not be the best way in stopping it. Since the issue has been raised due in large part because of the mass shootings that have occurred, it is causing many to establish ways of preventing this tragedy from occurring again. When focusing on schools, the topic of arming our teachers has become a serious subject as of late. In 2018, there was a span of over 18-gun related injuries in schools in less than a hundred days (Ahmed, Galea, Vaughan, 2018). According to DeMitchell and Rath, “we fear that our schools no longer serve as a safe harbor for our children and adults.” While arming teachers may seem like a crazy idea because it is introducing guns back into the building, having personal in your district who are qualified to have them could be beneficial in the end. The fact that a safe place like schools are being targeted is concerning because there is much stopping someone from walking in and committing a heinous crime like that. Following a deadly shooting at a school, it was researched and found that enrollment numbers were dropped and created the sense that people were afraid of the protection present (DeMitchell, Rath, 2014). While having armed personal or teachers in schools seems like a logical idea, issue with it are present and can create more concern. Bringing more guns into school for many seem like something that would not help the issue because it is exposing the youth to them. Many people question whether arming a teacher is beneficial because there are many teachers out there who could lose their temper after a while and do something completely unimaginable making this controversy even worse than it is.

Solution Two

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The second solution I choose to analyze focuses on children and their exposure to violence and guns. Having a family and being a gun owner is a very common thing but where and how you keep that gun raises concerns. To parents, the ability to access your personal guns should be difficult especially if you have children. Creating an opportunity for them to have access to this weapon is dangerous and is something that should be monitored more. According to national data, there are 8 kids a day who are killed or injured unintentionally by guns (Lee, 2018). According to Lee, “Three out of four kids know where guns in their homes are stored, according to the campaign. And 1 in 5 of those kids have handled a gun when their parents were not around. About 4.6 million children live in a home with a gun that is unlocked and loaded.” To think that young kids have access like this is unacceptable and called for more attention on the parent’s part. This lack of attention is disturbing and shows how kids can get their access so easily. When looking the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, it was learned after that Adam Lanza who was responsible for the shootings, was able to obtain his guns from his mother who was a legal owner (Barron, 2012). This resulted in the death of over 20 children when in the end it could have been prevented easily. To believe your kid would never do something like this and not taking the measures to protect them from acquiring these guns, is exposing them to the idea of pursuing it.

The second part of this solution is understanding the things your kids are watching and engaging in online. When looking at people on social media who can garner millions of followers, it is important to understand what they stand for. When it comes to rappers, gangs and violence are tied heavily together and, in their videos, and music you constantly hear and see signs of violence being indicated. Rapping to a song while holding an AK-47 automatic machine gun rifle makes it seem like it is ok and cool to be in possession of one. To me that is wrong and although I follow that kind of music, the image and reputation these figures are letting off are hurting the younger generation of kids. Also, as touched on earlier violence in video games has played a role. Allowing your eight-year-old son to sit inside for hours playing shooting games could mentally damage him and lead down a bad path. For parents, being engaged is the best thing to do and trying to manage the things they are exposed to at a young age is crucial for keeping them from taking that bad road. In terms of the news outlets, they always seem to be locked in more on the guns than the person who committed the crime. Politics have caused us to look at things more than just the person committing the crime and are attention has been fully awarded to the gun violence issue itself. The media plays a crucial role in helping get information out and expose us to the dangers that are present. When discussing the gun violence issue, they have contributed heavily to this issue growing in conversation. Not a day goes by on the news today where you don’t hear them arguing gun control or discussing ways of reducing its use.

Solution Three

Establishing health centers and increasing public awareness could be a keyway in trying to slow down gun violence. Becoming an issue that is keeping people in their homes, offering physician support could be important in preventing a major disaster. Offering classes and lectures for both parents and individuals, could help offer insight into signs and triggers that could make someone think in a negative way. Looking around today, it seems families aren’t doing enough to understand their love ones and realize the dark things they could have built up. Trying to learn the best ways of keeping yourself and family safe is beneficial to not only you, but the people who may be around you. Tragedies like these can happen at any moment, at any time, at any place, and understanding how to handle a situation like this could save the lives of many people. When looking at many of the shooters in the past decade, many have had some serious psychological issues that were never looked at thoroughly and led to bad things. The emphasis on our physicians who are working with the youth should be at an all time high. Having the ability to read and understand what people might be feeling and going through can allow us to root out the bad demons and help that individual mentally. To find out someone mentally unstable was able to go out and purchase guns easily, is scary to think and calls for me to be done in preventing that from happening. With these huge mass shootings, you always see the parents talking about how they believed their kid could never do something like this. Until it happens, you are left without doubt, but when it does it makes you go back and realize if you were doing enough personally to help prevent it.

Final Solution

Although they seem to be doing a lot already, the best solution present is getting our government and the National Rifle Association (NRA) to do more towards the cause. First, keeping guns out of the wrong hands is priority number one. In only 13 states is there a system that subjects gun owners to more than a full background check (Trace, 2018). This has red flags written all over it and can easily be the blame for easy access to guns. In the thirteen states that do require more than a background check, they force you to get the permit from local law enforcement which means you will be heavily investigated (Trace, 2018). Looking more into what the government can do, creating more laws and regulations should only be the start. With these laws, they must make the penalty’s stricter than they are to create fear within people trying to obtain them. The type of guns you can purchase should be looked at closely to. For no reason whatsoever should there be someone possessing an automatic rifle in their home. The constant efforts to ban these guns have been made, but people’s access to the weapons haven’t become that much harder. According to statistics, “from 1994 to 2004, when the assault weapons ban was on the books, there were 12-gun massacres, resulting in 89 deaths. The ensuing decade had 34-gun massacres, which caused 302 deaths” (Trace, 2018). To think they helped limit the issue with this ban and seeing the results after, it shows how this issue is bigger than a few regulations. Focusing on magazine sizes, you can see why these have become a main topic of discussion. With some of these gun magazines able to fire hundreds of bullets in minutes, there should be government regulations restricted the sale of all of them. Allowing these guns and magazine sizes to flood the street is senseless and creates the chance for a catastrophe. The government has provided some important things in helping get guns of the streets including centers for selling your gun to the government. Opening these facilities and encouraging people to come and sell their firearms was smart thinking and helped free thousands of guns that were on the street. Though this was a creative and successful attempt, it still hasn’t solved the issue at hand.

The National Rifle Association is a major player in the gun violence issue today. Looking to protect their rights and freedoms, gun activists have been under heavy fire for their gun loving attitudes and distribution. They have been connected by many for being responsible in handing out guns and encouraging people to buy them. While may politicians’ side with them and their rights, they are constantly facing heat from oppositions and activists who blame them for tragedies that occur. While they aren’t completely guilt free, they believe the focus should be on the individuals that are committing the crime rather than the weapon they used. The attention that has come to this outbreak has forced them to work even harder in defending their case and rights.

Conclusion

Entering completion of this paper, I have found there to be many interesting findings regarding gun violence. With all the attention focused around the guns and what are government is doing to prevent these tragedies from occurring, the underlying issue resting are the shooters themselves. Every time a mass shooting happens, the first thing people resort to blame are guns. Having seen statistics on gun control throughout this paper, you are able to identify many different steps taken to combat the issue and not much production being shown from it. This has further amplified the discussion and pressure that has been created to solve it is continuing to grow.

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