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Counterpoint: Is Gun Control the Answer to the Violence Question?

Elaina Martin, Opinions Editor

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   Due to the recent tragedy in Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the issue of gun control has become  increasingly prevalent in the headlines yet again. But the answer is obvious — gun control should increase. Tighter restrictions on gun ownership and tighter gun control regulations will decrease episodes of gun violence and suicide, increase awareness about the issues firearm use can cause, and overall, save lives.

   According to the Huffington Post, gun ownership in the United States proportionally exceeds that of any other developed country. The US holds 4.4 percent of the world’s population, and 42 percent of the world’s guns. Possibly as a result, the US also sports the largest number of gun-related deaths compared to any other developed country (huffingtonpost.com). To support this notion, an accumulation of research done by Harvard University showed that “…after controlling for poverty and urbanization, for every age group, people in the states [US] with many guns have elevated rates of homicide, particularly firearm homicide” (harvard.edu). In the US, more guns clearly means more death and violence.

   Therefore, civilian-owned guns are problematic. But will stricter gun laws really solve anything? Well, studies show that they will. One commonly used example is what happened in Australia. In 1996, the country experienced a devastating mass shooting and, as a result, a huge government buy-back took place and assault weapons were banned. As such, no mass shootings have happened there since, and according to a business research website, there has been a 96 percent reduction in gun-related murders (businessinsider.com). It is clear that tighter gun control, possibly paired with the banning of assault weapons, reduces gun-related homicide rates.

   Some might argue that gun control doesn’t work, because those who want to perpetrate gun violence will just figure out a way to get guns illegally. However, gun control doesn’t necessarily mean making it harder for law-abiding citizens to get guns. It can mean more comprehensive background, psychological stability, and mental health checks, which shouldn’t affect those who are of sound mind. Ensuring that the people who are buying guns are mentally stable will certainly deter potential mass shooters, or at least make it more difficult for them to purchase a deadly weapon. Take the recent Parkland shooting. According to a news website, the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, legally bought the AR-15 weapon used to execute his plan (newsweek.com). If there were more stringent mental health or background checks, or even an age limit on gun purchases, the Parkland shooting might have been prevented.

   While fresh in our minds, the Parkland shooting, unfortunately isn’t the only example of mass gun violence in recent American history. According to BBC, a gunman killed 49 people in an Orlando nightclub in 2016 (bbc.com). The LA Times reported that in 2017, an armed gunman killed 58 in Las Vegas and another gunman killed 26 in Sutherland Springs, Texas (latimes.com). In four seemingly unrelated crimes, there is one similar factor. Every single murderer was armed with an AR-15 weapon. Obviously, these assault rifles have one purpose, killing mass amounts of people. These guns are not for hunting, they are for war, and unless a person is a soldier, fighting for the country, he or she should not be in possession of one.

   Arguments against the banning of assault weapons frequently cite the Second Amendment as proof that banning any gun violates a United States citizens’ rights. However, in a constitution that was written 230 years ago, could the Founding Fathers really have foreseen the technology and problems that technology would cause? The answer is no. As put by a reporter for the Washington Post, no one needs an assault weapon to protect his or her family or to even to hunt a deer for sport (washingtonpost.com). Had each of the crimes listed above not been carried out with an assault rifle, fewer lives would have been lost. It’s safe to say that if one could go back in time and explain this predicament to George Washington, he would want to protect the people first, and not gun privilege.

   Recently, gun control has gained more support. According to CNN, 71 percent of people polled support preventing people under the age of 21 from buying any type of gun and 63 percent support a ban on the sale and possession of high-capacity or extended-ammunition magazines (cnn.com). Senior Alondra Borja said, “There must be tighter gun control. To add, there should be regulations as to what will happen to those who do not obey the law in order  to have a safer country as a whole.” If citizens wholeheartedly support gun control, then there should be action to put more in place, regardless of what the National Rifle Association and their lobbyists want.

   In the end, nothing can eliminate human violence, but the presence of tighter gun laws might help soften the devastating effects these people cause. Maybe we should view tighter gun laws more like birth control — it won’t always work, but it’s better than no protection at all. In America, there will always be disagreement about gun control, but if passing laws could keep even one person safe from being murdered, how can anyone really argue against it?

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Counterpoint: Is Gun Control the Answer to the Violence Question?