Protection or problem: gun use in America

Erin Burchill ‘25, Entertainment Section Editor

Every day, when Americans turn on the news, there is another shooting on another street and another five people are dead; we see reports of children getting shot, innocent people in critical condition in hospitals, and survivors of gunshot wounds who are in constant pain, all because of gun violence.

According to the CDC, 316 people are shot in the U.S. every day, with a third of those people dying as a result. As stated by data collected by the Small Arms Survey in 2018, the U.S. is the leading country in civilian gun-owners. The first national legislation attempting to control gun use was passed in 1934, almost 100 years ago, yet death by gun statistics still remain high. 

The issue of whether or not citizens should be allowed to own guns has existed since the Second Amendment was written into the Constitution in 1791. Its main purpose was to control military forces and allow armed forces to be put together quickly in case of war; that was over two centuries ago. We no longer have reasons to arm everyone in the country—there are specific military groups for that. The common excuse among average Americans is that they want or need guns for self-defense, but that kind of self-defense is not necessary against children, neighbors, or innocent bystanders.

In only a month, Everytown recorded 22 gun-related incidents at youth sporting events, some of which saw people fatally shot. Over 530 mass shootings occurred across the U.S. in the past nine months alone, more than 100 of them being school shootings. We see reports of shootings on the news nearly every day, yet all of that is just a fraction of the real threat guns pose in this country. According to data collected by the FBI, guns account for 73 percent of all homicides. There is absolutely no reason the numbers should be this high.

In Japan, only police and those in the military may purchase and own handguns and rifles; average citizens are only allowed to own shotguns and airguns for hunting and sport shooting, both of which are extremely regulated. As a result of these gun control laws, firearm-related deaths are nearly non-existent in Japan. If the U.S. would consider implementing stricter laws, we might start seeing less people get shot and killed.

Another country that sees barely any firearm-related deaths is Norway. In a deleted tweet from Oct. 13, Representative Lauren Boebert commented on a recent shooting: “A man in Norway just killed a bunch of people with a bow and arrow. Norway has some of the strictest gun laws around, yet mass shootings still occur.” She continues by claiming that “liberals need to understand” that guns and laws are not the problem, criminals are. Her argument, however, ignores some key statistics: 2 people killed by gun violence in Norway in 2020 versus over 40,000 people shot and killed in the U.S. in the same year. This data clearly displays the importance of gun control laws and the vast difference they can make in yearly deaths.

Possibly the worst part of this is that nearly half of Americans believe gun violence is a very big problem in the U.S. today and that we need stricter laws against it, yet almost nothing has been done to combat this issue. The last successful attempt to limit gun violence was the establishment of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in 1993, which requires a background check on anyone attempting to buy a firearm; everything since has been either a neutral or negative change, which is the opposite of what this country needs.

The Second Amendment has existed since the birth of the United States, but that was a different time. We no longer have a need for constant violence and self-defense; readily-armed militias are no longer needed to fight in wars, and there are better ways to solve arguments than pulling guns on one another. These ideas on civilian gun use are extremely outdated and can no longer be applied to our society. The age-old cliche of “violence is never the answer” is reflected in some countries’ tight gun control, but certainly not ours; the U.S. needs to follow the example of countries like Norway and Japan so that mass shootings are no longer a normal, everyday occurrence.

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