Gun-Control: Many Problems and No Workable Solutions
After an emotional plea from the father of Isla Vista shooting victim Chris Martinez, the gun control advocacy group Everytown USA began urging people to send postcards to “every politician they can think of” as a way to encourage reform of gun control laws. Although such movements are almost always destined to fail because merely the rhetoric about more gun control sparks a buying-frenzy of guns and ammunition.
Still, what could we do to reduce gun violence? There are an estimated 370 million guns in the United States, although this figure only includes privately-owned weapons. That number would most likely sky-rocket considering the rate at which police are arming themselves with military-style weapons. Still, it is safe to assume that there are close to a half of a billion guns in the country. Perhaps the solution could be as simple as banning the manufacture of guns in the United States?
The Second Amendment says nothing about purchasing or manufacturing weapons, so citizens would have the right to bear arms if they could find one for sale. The government wouldn’t be able to confiscate the guns already out there (it would surely end in bloodshed), but guns in America would be a limited resource. Of course, a black market would arise and a significant portion of the American economy would be negatively affected. Also, half of a billion guns is still a lot of guns.
Perhaps the solution is not to make guns illegal or scare, but simply irrelevant. While the reasoning behind the drop in the crime and gun-related homicide rates in recent years sparks academic debate, what is interesting and rarely mentioned is the fact that gun-related injuries are on the rise.
This isn’t because people are worse shots than they once were, but instead because the medical community is getting much better at saving the lives of victims of trauma. A trial of a new procedure in Pittsburgh, PA seeks to place trauma victims (such as those who’ve been shot) in “suspended animation” in order to give surgeons more time to save their lives. Although, no matter how well they do, doctors can’t save someone killed instantly.
The answers to the question, “what can we do?” remain elusive.
Ironically, the gun lobby should probably support the push for increased scrutiny in background checks regarding the mentally ill. Such a move would have certainly made it more difficult for people like Elliot Rodger, Adam Lanza, and Jared Loughner to get their hands on weapons. It is only in the aftermath of these sort of mass-shootings that the discussion returns to the forefront. Chicago’s gun violence claims the lives of the same number of people as many of these mass shootings over a weekend, and because gun laws there are so strict, they don’t easily fit the framework of the gun-control debate.
Most likely there isn’t one simple solution to the epidemic of gun violence in America. Not all gun owners are irresponsible, dangerous, or fanatic. Yet, the hardline stance of those pushing for gun control often forces those people either out of the conversation or on the side of the “gun nuts.”
Photo by KylaBorg via Flickr Creative Commons