Hold Your Fire: The Tipping Point in Gun Control

Alle Inzinna, feature editor

America may have reached a tipping point in its gun conversation.

In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history and the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history last month, a majority of Americans support stricter gun control, according to a poll by Politico. Sixty-four percent of voters want more gun restrictions and as many as 41 percent of those strongly support it.

According to Vox, between 2000 and 2014, there were 133 mass shootings in public, populated areas. Of the other industrialized countries, Germany has the next highest rate of mass shootings with a mere six. According to the United Nations, the rest of the top ten industrialized countries, which include Canada, Finland, Australia, Norway, Switzerland, England and France, have suffered from three or less. Before 2011, mass shootings in America occurred once every six months on average, but since then only two months pass between shootings.

Taking from this evidence, the rhetoric surrounding mass shootings, or the “nothing we can do about it” attitude proves false. Everyday people in other industrialized countries go about their day to day lives without fear of gun violence, unlike America. Gun ownership for other industrialized countries is like owning a car. It requires a license, training and it represents a privilege that can be taken away if abused.

Not in America.

It is written in the constitution that almost any citizen above the age of 18 has the right to bear arms. Sure, certain groups cannot legally obtain guns, but private dealers online do not have to do background checks, according to Politifacts. The loophole leaves room for virtually anyone with access to the internet, and the right people, to get a gun. It is not a privilege, it is a God-given. And it shows. In 2015, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. had more guns than people. Charts show a direct correlation between the amount of guns a country has and the amount of gun-related deaths. The right to own a gun proves a right that leaves carnage in the wake of people who take advantage of it.

It is legal to have a weapon capable of shooting 640 rounds per minute, and, in 31 states, to openly carry that military grade killing machine. It only becomes illegal when the owner starts pulling the trigger, the invisible bonds of a weak and ineffectual restrictions represent the only thing holding them back.

Unlike other industrialized countries, America does not require a license to buy or register a gun, to cite a reason for that purchase, to take a safety training course or find safe storage for the gun. All of their gun death rates plummet way below the U.S..
Ninety-two people die each day from gun-related violence in the U.S., according to Vox. Thirty of those deaths are homicides, and about two of those are from mass shootings. The rest are accidental shootings and police violence. The highest number by far of gun-related deaths in the U.S. are suicides, with 58 dead per day.

America has the highest suicide rates among industrialized countries, and the largest number committed with guns. It is important to understand that guns make it almost impossible to survive a suicide attempt. According to Vox, people who survive suicide attempts do not usually die from suicide later on in life, but a gun makes it virtually impossible to get a second chance.

Even without gun-related homicides, America’s homicide rates would still be above other industrialized countries, however, homicides by guns push the U.S. death rate so much further above that of all other industrialized countries.

The same policies that keep weapons away from mass shooters may not keep guns out of the hands of someone who could hurt themselves, or near inner-city gangs. Banning all guns is an impossible and impractical feat, not one worth arguing for.

Whether by screening applicants more closely, closing the loopholes or amending the Constitution, any sort of restriction could save lives.
But Conservatives seem to have a fetish for the Second Amendment. Arguments often point to the founding fathers when on the defensive, but the founding fathers would undoubtedly balk at the fact that more Americans were killed by guns in the last 50 years than in all U.S. wars combined, or that gunshots have exceeded 2-3 rounds per minute.

Sure, the Second Amendment has precedence in American society, but its loose reign gets people killed. The arms industry makes up a multi-billion dollar capitalist machine which bundles profits on the fears of citizens. In times like these, with mass shooting every 60 or so days and terrorist attacks, the NRA and the gun industry see dollar signs and more memberships.

The “nothing we can do about it” attitude seen from lawmakers in Washington represents a facade that puts weapons and profits ahead of human lives. The argument is invalid.

America can regulate guns just like every other industrialized country. But it doesn’t.
At this point, every argument against gun control translates to preserving a piece of American nationalistic nonsense. No defensive argument comes close to sufficiency when the numbers coming out show gun violence in America as exponentially greater than in other industrialized countries. No argument could ever excuse the lives lost, nor fill the empty rooms they leave behind.

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