Lukas Schroeder, Columnist
Needless to say, gun control is one of the most polarizing issues in the United States.
This split isn’t difficult to notice – Americans on both sides of the aisle typically possess deeply rooted, divergent views on gun ownership and the Second Amendment, views that are not easily altered.
Those who call for more gun control mean well. They wish to decrease violence in the United States, and believe the reduction of gun ownership in our country would accomplish that goal. However, these people are mistaken.
Studies estimate that there are well over 300 million guns in America – it is likely there are more firearms than people in our country. Many on the left claim America’s high rate of firearm ownership is directly correlative to a higher rate of firearm violence, but the facts do not support this assertion.
More firearms do not lead to higher rates of firearm homicide – studies show the opposite. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and the Congressional Research Service, the number of privately owned firearms increased 56% from 1993 to 2013. In the same period of time, the firearm homicide rate decreased 49%.
Another study using 2014 Census and FBI data found no correlation between a state’s firearm ownership rate and its firearm murder rate. In fact, many of the states with higher than average gun ownership also featured lower than average murder rates.
More firearms do not cause more firearm homicides, period.
This fact may be confusing, given misleading data commonly cited by left-leaning organizations. These figures, which report on all firearm deaths instead of just firearm homicides, claim to show an increase in violence over the past few years – Democrats commonly cite these figures as grounds for increased gun control. Why are these figures misleading? They skew the data by including instances of suicides by firearm.
While the rise of suicide deaths is highly alarming, gun bans don’t affect suicide rates. Japan, a nation that has effectively outlawed private gun ownership, has a much higher suicide rate than the United States, up to 70% higher as of 2014.
Be wary when hearing arguments made on the basis of data measuring all firearm deaths, which include instances of those who take their own lives. Instead, trust citations of the firearm homicide rate over time – It is the best measure of the true trend in America: firearm violence is decreasing rapidly.
But what about mass killings? Would more gun laws prevent these tragedies? Sadly, no.
In May of 1927, 45 people were killed in the deadliest school attack in American history. The weapon? Homemade explosives, not a gun.
In April of 1995, Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people in what was then the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil. The weapon? A truck bomb of oil and fertilizer, not a gun.
In July of 2016, an Islamic terrorist massacred 86 people in Nice, France, and wounded 458 more. The weapon? A large truck, obviously not a gun.
Mentally insane individuals, motivated to conduct mass murder, will not be blocked by any gun law – they will use whatever means necessary to commit evil. Those who promise the ending of mass killings through more gun laws are unfounded. Restrictions on firearms don’t impact a madman, but they do disarm his possible victims.
Many on the left claim our current president is an authoritarian figure. Ironically, many of these same voices also call for the abolishment of the Second Amendment, imagining a world where only the government had firearms. By this logic, this means the man liberals decry as authoritarian would be the only figure in control of this nation’s firearms – a hilariously blatant contradiction.
As a general practice, no one leader should ever be have total control of a nation’s weapons – history should serve as our warning. Hitler, Mao and Stalin, some of history’s most brutal killers, confiscated firearms from their people before committing mass genocide.
The founders, with the inclusion of the Second Amendment to the Constitution, ensured this horror could never happen in the United States. The founders knew the Second Amendment would serve as a powerful barricade to tyranny.
Many leftists argue the wording of the second amendment suggests the right to bear arms is limited to only members of a militia, not individual citizens. Unfortunately for them, only one ruling matters in this dispute.
In 2008, the Supreme Court decided: “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia … The [Amendment’s] text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms.” This decision represents the law of the land, plain and simple.
Leah Libresco, a statistician and former writer for FiveThriryEight, used to be a proponent of increased gun control. Then, as a result of her extensive research, she completely changed her mind. In a recent Washington Post article, she wrote: “We save lives by focusing on a range of tactics to protect the different kinds of potential victims and reforming potential killers, not from sweeping bans focused on the guns themselves.”
This is the approach we must take when tackling the subject of firearms in America.
The vast majority of gun owners are law abiding citizens. According to a study from the University of Pittsburgh, legal gun owners are least likely group to commit a gun crime. Let’s focus on punishing criminals using our existing gun laws, and stop demonizing those who legally exercise their Second Amendment rights.
The Second Amendment is here to stay, and that’s a good thing. It is a positive component of the Constitution: it ensures the protection of all other rights that we, as Americans, enjoy. It ensures we can protect ourselves and our families from those who wish to do us harm.