With gun access, or even a gun ban would

With the recent onset of mass shootings and terror
attacks in the United States, the topics of gun control and gun laws have been
on the rise. In light of the recent tragedies in Las Vegas and Orlando, the
effectiveness of gun laws and regulations have been put into question. While
many believe that tougher restrictions on gun access, or even a gun ban would
help reduce/ prevent mass shootings, suicides, and gun related violence,
supporters of the second amendment argue that heavier gun control laws will not
be able to reduce these types of incidents and that these regulations would be
considered a violation of human rights as stated by the Constitution. While the
mainstream media and anti-gun politicians use tragic events, such as the Sandy
Hook Elementary School shooting and other misleading statistics to push their anti-gun
agendas, they tend to overlook crucial information about the usage of guns, the
effects they have in our society and their accessibility. While the effects of
gun related violence can indeed be devastating, I would like to argue that
restricting access to guns is not the way to solve this issue, and is in fact a
violation the constitution. In fact, access to guns should be extended to
non-immigrants and non-citizens in order to promote their protection and
safety.

            For my first point, I would like to point
to a survey done by the University of Chicago which shows that the household
ownership of firearms in the United States is on decline. In 2014, only 31% of
households reported having firearms. A more recent example is the Gallup and
General Social Survey showing that only 22-29% of Americans are gun owners in
2017. This is the lowest percentage of gun owners in America in the last 30
years. The relevance of these statistics comes in to play with my first point:
the guns are not the problem, but rather the people that own them. If people in
America own less guns than ever, why is it that there is an increase in mass
shootings and gun related violence? As opposed to what is shown by the media,
this is not the case. Statistics by the FBI show that the number of active
shooter incidents in America are actually on decline. The FBI statistics
mentioned show that in 2014 and 2015 there were only 20 active shooter
incidents. While these numbers were higher than the incidents that occurred in
2013, which were 17, they are still lower than previous years such as 2010 and
2012, having 26 and 21 annual incidents. The numbers from these statistics,
aside from slight discrepancies in certain years, do not show a linear increase
in incidents in the past 8 years, but rather parabolic trend line peaking in
2010, and staying more or less on decline since. More up to date statistics
reported 2016 having only 16 active shooter incidents, showing that overall,
annual active shooter incidents have been on decline since 2010.  

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For my second point, I’d like to argue that
restricting access to guns could potentially threaten the safety of the general
public as their methods of defense will be limited. According to the FBI, between
2000 and 2013, 45.6% of shootings happened in businesses and 24.4% at schools
and institutions of higher education. For the most part, these are places where
people are not allowed to carry or have weapons with them, putting them at a
higher risk of danger and inability to defend themselves. In fact, the amount
of mass shootings in gun-free zones from 1950 to 2016 is 98.4%. Clearly these
criminals attack the places where they are to face the least amount of
retaliation as these victims have no way to defend themselves. Once on site, a
gunman could EASILY go down a school cafeteria or hallway shooting whoever they
please for a while before law enforcement or some sort of security were to
arrive and take action. Ask yourself this, if somebody were shooting at you,
what would be your options? Punching the gunner? Physically attacking him?
Chances are, if you were to try any of those you’d be dead within seconds. On
the other hand, having the ability to shoot back would not only tremendously
increase your ability to stop him, but also your ability to take cover, and
attack from relative safety. If a criminal is attempting to obtain a firearm, a
law will not prevent them from getting one. There are numerous ways a person
can obtain a firearm without legal permission or accessibility. These methods
can range from stealing, to purchasing from black markets. One of the most
common ways criminals end up with guns is through straw purchase sales. A straw
purchase is when someone not allowed to purchase guns legally, or wants to do
so anonymously has somebody else do it for them. In fact, the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives states that only about 8% of the
nation’s 124,000 retail gun dealers sell the majority of handguns that are used
in crimes and gun related violence. The bottom line is that if someone
desperately wants a gun, he/she will find a way to obtain one, legally or not. With
this, we move on to my next point. If a person’s intent is hurting people,
removing access to guns will not prevent them from accomplishing their goal. This
can be seen on the March 2014 Kunming train attacks in China, a country which
heavily regulates the ownership of guns, where 30 people were killed and more
than 130 injured by 10 knife wielding attackers. This attack however, was not
an isolated incident, as more non-gun related mass violence attacks have been
taking place in China. A few examples are the Tiananmen Square attack, in which
a man drove an SUV into a crowd and set it on fire, killing 5 people and injuring
40, and the Chenpeng Village Primary School Stabbing.  An argument could be made that if the teachers
in the school or the people at the train station were carrying guns, they could
have stopped the attacker from killing so many people. Likewise, another
argument could be made that an attack such as a knife rampage could potentially
injure more people, as knives are easy to conceal and do not make noise when
used, as opposed to a gun, which sets off a loud bang, alerting people that
something is happening.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide
Prevention, 49.8% of suicide deaths are caused by firearms. While it makes
sense why people would want to restrict access to guns from this statistic, one
must consider the outcome of such decision and the effects it would have on
society outside of this issue. Much like criminals finding alternative ways of
hurting people, a person so set on taking his or her life that he or she is willing
to use a gun to commit suicide will not be stopped by having access cut off
from them. While an argument can be made that having no guns would prevent
instant death and could give a suicidal person a chance to change their mind,
one could counter argue that the second they pull the trigger they have already
made that decision. Instead of instant death, they will find alternative, perhaps
even more painful methods that could elongate the persons suffering, such as
slitting their wrists and bleeding out. While the suicide death rate from
firearms will most likely decrease when access to guns is restricted, other
methods such as suffocation, or poisoning are sure to spike up accordingly, not
having any real influence on the fact that people are still killing themselves.

            While one might think that illegal
immigrants are not protected by constitutional rights because of their legal status
in the United States, many U.S Supreme Court rulings dating as far back as 1896
have proven otherwise, stating that “all persons within the territory of
the United States are entitled to the protection by those Fifth and Sixth
amendments” (Wong Wing v. United States). The protections afforded to illegal
immigrants should be extended to include the Second Amendment as a means to
protect themselves from the blatant discrimination and violence this group
faces.

It is currently a class C felony for non-citizens to
possess or carry firearms unless they meet some special requirements. Certain places
in the United States have even tougher restrictions forbidding non-immigrants
and those deemed “enemy aliens” as well as illegal-aliens from possessing and
obtaining firearms completely, disregarding other states’ exceptions. These
laws are discriminatory and put those who fall into these categories at risk as
they prevent access to personal protection. In fact, immigrants are more likely
to face discrimination and are at higher risks of being assaulted than the
average American because of cultural, religious, and physical differences. Many
non-citizens avoid asking for help from the police and other authorities out of
fear of deportation or other related issues. Access to the Second Amendment
would allow these non-citizens to protect themselves in case of an attack or
other situations in which their lives are thrust into peril. The fact remains
that immigrants, legal or not, are human beings too. And should be afforded the
same opportunities to survive. Why should they be denied the right to protect
themselves when many times they are the target of discrimination and violence?

Having addressed some of the controversy and problems
surrounding gun control, one question still remains: What is the solution to
the gun violence problem America faces? While there might not be a definite
answer to eradicate all gun violence,
several steps can be taken to help reduce it. One of the solutions could be the
improvement in diagnosis and treatment for mental illness. In many active
shooter incidents, the perpetrator struggles with mental instability that goes
undiagnosed or acts in such a manner due to past trauma, abuse, and/or bullying
that wasn’t dealt with properly. A proper and more accurate diagnosis would
help keep guns out the hands of potential aggressors, while proper treatment
could help those struggling with trauma find other ways of coping with their
problems rather than resorting to violent and deadly outbursts. A more extreme
approach would be to standardize psychological tests in middle or elementary
schools to identify and observe possible troubled children, providing them with
the help they need in order to keep them on the right path and diminish future
threats to society. While this might not produce results right away, over time,
crime and violence will decrease, resulting in less gun violence overall. The
first steps to achieving these results would be to increase government spending
on mental health research to develop better treatment options and more accurate
methods of diagnosis. While these solutions might seem like frivolous
speculations, they go hand in hand with one another, and in theory, they could
provide positive results in making the United States a much safer country.   

            With all the uncertainty and
violence faced in the world, the best thing to do would be to prepare for
anything. This includes having an accessible form of guaranteed protection from
an incoming threat. For this reason, it is imperative that we not only protect
the ability for people to obtain guns for personal protection, but also extend
the 2nd amendment to be inclusive of immigrants and other
non-citizens in the United States. Doing this would not only keep ourselves and
our communities safer, but also those plagued by discrimination and violence
who have nobody to call for help. 

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