is gun control effective

Is Gun Control Effective?

In 2021, the debate around firearms has reached new heights. The division continues to mount as America seemingly grows more and more violent, splitting the nation between pro-gun and pro-gun control. Those who are pro-gun control point to firearms as the source of the violence. Those who are pro-gun point to those who are pulling the trigger.

Those who want to exercise their right to protect themselves are often viewed as apathetic. How can they care about dead children if they don’t want to get rid of guns? How can they know a gun was used to kill multiple people within the span of a mere few minutes and not want to ban the weapon?

Worse, when abolishing the Second Amendment is taken off the table, why are they pushing back against some minor restrictions? What’s so wrong with implementing universal background checks and making it more difficult to obtain guns? Surely adding more restrictions and hoops to jump through will prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands.

Unfortunately, the truth is much more complex.

In our world of instant gratification and brevity, we look for easy, simple answers. One-liners we can tweet for validation from the court of public opinion. The problem is simple: guns. The solution is simple: get rid of them.

Except neither the problem nor the solution is simple, though we all wish they could be.

PRO-GUN or PRO-GUN CONTROL?

Reasons for Gun Control

We all hear numbers on the news, such as 40,000 people per year die from gun violence. We hear stories about blacked-out, military-style assault rifles that are “fully semi-automatic.” Why would anyone need to own a weapon designed to take out a helicopter?

In fact, many proponents of gun control own firearms themselves. They may have an old .22LR sitting in the closet, or maybe they just like looking at old black powder pistols. Even Joe Biden says, “Buy a shotgun” and just “shoot it in the air” in case of a home invasion (though please don’t take this horrible safety advice, as what goes up must come down). They know Grandpa used to hunt, but he never used a blacked-out fully semi-automatic 5.56 NATO like the AR-15, right? Why would you even want to hunt when you can just go to Walmart for meat?

Those who are in favor of gun control are smart enough to know the entire purpose of a gun is to kill in the most effective way possible. They look at the horrible gang crime in cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and even our country’s capital, and can see the obvious increase in firearm-related deaths.

The obvious answer to the gun violence in these cities is to take the guns away. Many gun control advocates call for universal background checks, mental health evaluations, and mandatory buy-backs (“just like Australia”). Restricting access to firearms can only decrease firearm-related deaths.

Banning standard capacity magazines is another large focus. The idea is that only being able to carry 10 rounds per magazine will limit the amount of damage done by mass shooters by making them reload more often.

The gun-control advocacy group Moms Demand Action claims they just want universal background checks. This means a father selling his firearms to his son would require a background check. The only way to enforce this program would be to have a federal firearm registry to track all firearms in the country, which is fought by many 2A advocates.

Reasons To Protect Gun Rights

One argument that anti-gun Americans always seem to bring up is mass murders. Columbine. Sandy Hook. These Americans claim that gun proponents don’t care about the loss of life in mass killings.

The opposite is true.

Gun advocates care just as much about the loss of life. They are equally as horrified. After a mass killing, gun advocates agree that the act was heinous and should not have happened. They would simply prefer the blame be placed on the person committing the act instead of the weapon used.

Our country was founded by revolutionaries who knew how important it was to make sure the people had a right to defend themselves. As we saw during the riots of 2020, the police aren’t always there to help you. Several court cases have found that police do not have any duty to protect your life at all unless expressly stated.

Since firearms have been part of our way of life for hundreds of years, we are currently at a point where we have more guns than people in this country, and getting rid of them all would be impossible, as people on both sides of the argument generally agree. There is no magical red button.

The disagreement seems to be whether to use the button if it did exist. Many people believe if you got rid of all firearms in the world, bad people would still commit terrible acts of violence. Pushing the magic red button would simply ensure that the criminal would have the upper hand.

Most people willing to break the law to commit murder aren’t following magazine limits or any restrictions that are placed on law-abiding citizens. A person willing to commit 20 murders in a day most likely isn’t very concerned with carrying an illegal magazine.

Further, while a shotgun may be an excellent form of home protection, many times they are mischaracterized as the best. For a smaller woman of 100 lbs, the recoil of a 12 gauge could put her right on her butt, whereas the lower recoil of a 5.56 carbine or pistol may end up being much easier for her to handle safely. If criminals are not going to follow magazine bans or laws against murdering children, maybe we should allow citizens to have a way to match the force so they stand a fighting chance.

Breaking Down The Numbers

CNN Says 40,000

We checked the same CDC website CNN used for its figures on gun deaths to see how things were broken down. They stated nearly 40,000 lives were lost in 2019 due to gun violence. While every one of these deaths is a tragedy, what were the circumstances of these deaths? What is included in these numbers?

Suicide

24,000 of the 40,000 lives lost were a result of intentional suicide – over 60% of the total gun-related deaths. Studies show that more people survive attempted suicide when firearms are removed from the homes of mentally ill people, as it takes away the most effective means. This makes many gun proponents think the discussion should be focused more on mental health.

Murder

America has a murder problem, right? Well, not quite. At least not according to the numbers. The gun deaths classified as murder are mostly gang-related and happen in just a few cities across the country. This seems to be an issue of socioeconomic persuasion and is far more difficult to solve than just banning the firearms used.

According to the FBI Database, in 2019, the “gun-loving” states of Alabama, New Hampshire, Montana, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming all had fewer murders combined than New York, which saw more than 500 murders. This is dwarfed by California’s 1,679 murders, 34 of which were caused by rifles including the AR-15, while 252 were from “knives or cutting instruments” and 102 murders were committed with “hands and feet.” Seems like we should be banning knives and hands before we concern ourselves with the AR-15.

Accidental Deaths

Accidental deaths made up around 1,500 of the nearly 40,000 gun deaths in 2019. These rates are much lower in states that have firearm safety programs and 4H clubs that teach firearm safety and responsibility at a young age. Many of these deaths could be prevented if very basic safety training mandated in schools.

In fact, even with all of the gun control California has implemented, the state still had more murders than the very pro-2A state of Texas. California has a list of approved firearms and tons of red tape involved in becoming a firearm owner, yet more murders.

Lives Saved

The CDC page also states that there are between 60,000 and 2.5 million defensive gun uses every year. If we can all agree the lives lost are a tragedy, we should also be able to agree that all of the lives saved should be celebrated.

Defensive and justified uses of a firearm are also included in firearm death statistics. So a woman defending herself from rape at knifepoint with a legally possessed firearm is included in the 40,000 deaths that CNN cited.

Coincidence?

According to DisasterCenter.com, in New York City during the year 1965, the murder rate per 100,000 people was 4.6 and the rape rate was 12.8. After New York has led the charge on gun control and disarming its citizens, murder rates have dropped to 2.9 while forced rape has gone up to 33. Aggravated assault was also higher in 2019 than in 1965.

Measures Already Used To Prevent Firearm Deaths

1. Gun-Free Zones

Many gun-free zones simply use a sticker on the door to prevent mass shootings. Perhaps the theory is that a shooter will walk up, see the sign, and then realize there is no way he can get a gun into the building. Instead, the sticker only tells them that law-abiding citizens are not armed here.

For a “gun-free zone” to truly be effective, there has to be a means of detecting firearms, as well as a response set up to handle the situation when something does go wrong. You will see this in many courthouses and federal buildings but very few schools.

This means there is little to no actual protection for teachers and students, yet most states have laws against teachers being able to carry even if they have a concealed carry permit from their state. So even if teachers are willing to risk their lives jumping in front of the classroom door to protect their students, they are not allowed to fight for their survival with the best tool possible.

2. What Are Universal Background Checks?

A universal background check would require every firearm sale to go through the federal background check system. You often hear of universal background checks relating to the “gun show loophole.” You may hear that you can purchase a firearm at a gun show with a background check.

With the current federal background check system, every time you purchase a firearm through a registered firearms dealer (FFL), you have to pass a federal background check known as the NICS check. This would be at any sporting goods store, and yes, even dealers at gun shows have to use the NICS system.

The only time someone doesn’t need to pass a NICS check is during a private sale when the purchaser is not believed to be a prohibited person. This means you can only sell to someone privately if you have “no reason to believe they are a prohibited person.” 

This allows a father to sell firearms to his son or daughter, a friend, or a peer from the gun range. Maybe your sister is going through a bad breakup and wants protection from an abusive ex. Without universal background checks, you can give your sister the pistol she needs without needing to wait on a federal background check.

In a state like New York, a basic transaction from father to son or brother to sister could take upwards of 8 months. A $140 application fee for a “may issue” permit would allow you to carry a firearm while hunting. After 5-10 months, you get your answer. Then you may spend $200 for an approved concealed carry course. After submitting a letter to the judge, getting another background check, and waiting a few more months, you can finally carry your firearm.

Policies like this do not help the woman in New Jersey who was stabbed to death during the waiting period to obtain her firearm. It doesn’t stop the 20 murders over a single weekend in New York City, or 72 people shot over a weekend in Chicago.

The only people who would follow this law are law-abiding citizens. Criminals would most likely not register a stolen firearm. The difficult part here is the enforcement of the law. How would you stop the guy selling guns to 17-year-old kids in the Wal-Mart parking lot?

3. What Is The Girlfriend Loophole?

Let’s say Person A is a felon with an arrest record. Someone our current background check system would already prevent from owning a firearm. The girlfriend loophole occurs when Person A uses Person B to legally pass a background check and purchase a firearm for them.

This is often referred to as the girlfriend loophole because a prohibited person may enter a gun shop, pick out a firearm, and then ask his girlfriend to buy it. This is known as a straw purchase and is already illegal federally.

You are allowed to purchase a firearm as a gift, but not in exchange for any money, goods, or services. This is great for a father buying his son’s first .22LR, or a husband buying a gun for his lady while he’s out on the road. If you want to get your lady interested in carrying a firearm, read more here.

I have found the best way to do this is by purchasing a gift card in the amount of the firearm and maybe some ammo as well. This allows the person you are buying it for to pick the exact one they want, and they have to pass the background check themselves. Most gun shops will be happy to sell you a gift certificate to avoid any possible issues with firearms as gifts.

4. What is the Charleston Loophole?

This was named after the mass shooting in Charleston in which nine people were shot in a church.

The shooter previously had a felony drug charge that was corrected to a misdemeanor, but the paperwork never got fixed. So a federal agent called the wrong agency looking for information. This allowed the shooter to make the purchase even though it should have been refused, as he was an unlawful user of a controlled substance.

According to ATF regulations, when a background check does not fail or pass, it may be a delay.  This means the ATF has three days to deny your purchase according to [18 U.S.C. 922(b)(2)]. If they do not deny the transaction, it is up to the discretion of the firearms dealer with which you are dealing to determine whether you are able to purchase the firearm.

This regulation was designed to entice the government to do its job. Having no 

The Charleston shooting is a case of the government not using the system it already has in place. More laws and regulations can’t be the answer when the system is already ineffective at stopping mass shooters. For example, one mass murderer was reported to the authorities over 30 times and he still passed a background check for the firearm that was used during the shooting. 

5. Effects On Poor Communities

In Pennsylvania, you can walk into a firearms dealer and pass your Federal NICS background check. The total cost is the cost of the firearm and the transfer fee. A concealed carry permit will cost around $20 and take a few weeks for the local sheriff to run the federal background check and call your references.

In New York State, the cost is $140 to $300+ to apply for a permit that would allow you to carry a pistol while hunting or to have possession of it while on your property. As a “may issue” state, even if you have never committed a crime and all four references say you have outstanding moral character, New York may still deny your application. Then you’ll spend another $200 for the concealed carry course. And another $20 for an additional background check before your permit is issued.

A single mom working two shifts and riding the bus home after work may be able to afford a used firearm, but quadrupling the price with red tape and needing to take time off work may discourage her completely. Getting denied means the money was wasted when it could have gone toward feeding the family she’s trying to protect.

A new Glock may cost a law-abiding citizen of New York over $1,000 when all is said and done. Meanwhile, a high school kid can get one illegally from NYC for $200. 

HOW WE CAN REDUCE VIOLENCE WITHOUT MORE GUN CONTROL

While those who are anti-gun believe the solution is to increase gun control or get rid of firearms altogether, those who are pro-gun believe gun control is already ineffective and more gun control will continue to be the same. Worse, gun control will merely restrict law-abiding citizens’ ability to obtain firearms for their protection and will have no impact at all on criminals who will obtain firearms illegally, as many already do.

With over 20,000 gun laws across our country, it seems we may have passed the point of “common-sense reform.”

What many gun advocates have failed to do is provide an alternative solution. If more gun control is not a solution, what is? How can children and teachers in schools be kept safe? How can we lower crime without increasing gun control?

Defend Our Schools

Apps like Mayday Safety developed by Ryan Cleckner can help your child’s school get connected with teachers, missing students, parents, and even police and fire officials in case of an emergency.

Most schools are marked as “gun-free zones.” While this may seem like a great idea, once you walk in the door, there is often no enforcement of the policy. No armed guards or metal detectors to stop an armed gunman, just the sweet old lady in the office that buzzed you in.

States like Wyoming allow the school district to decide if and how teachers should be allowed to carry. This ensures that the people willing to die for our children also have a way to fight for them.

Early Firearm Education

No child should learn about guns in his friend’s closet. “Hey look at what my dad has” is every gun owner’s worst nightmare.

Children should be taught safe and responsible handling of firearms at the earliest age possible. This can start as soon as your child recognizes words. “Stop. Get away. Tell an adult” is the message taught in Ryan Cleckner’s book.

If your child seems curious, then taking them shooting may remove the “forbidden fruit” aspect. You can be the one to teach and engrain the rules of firearm safety with them. If you would rather a professional do the job, there are usually beginner firearms courses offered at your local gun range. This can also be a great bonding experience for parents who are not yet involved with firearms.

Preventing accidental deaths with proper safety and education would be a huge step for legal gun owners.

Better Reporting

The Sutherland Springs shooting was another church shooting where a man killed 26 and wounded 22 more with a “Ruger AR assault-type rifle,” according to Time. This was after passing a background check. According to CNN, “The US Air Force acknowledged Kelley’s court-martial conviction was not entered into the federal law enforcement database at the National Criminal Information Center.” A Texas judge also ruled that the Airforce was at fault for the shooting. More government failures, yet the supposed answer is more gun control?

The same article states Stephen Willeford defended the church with a “rifle.” Turns out after an interview with Stephen Willeford that he had an AR-15 that he had built himself over years.

However, when Time Magazine says “rifle” most people think of an old wood stock bolt action. This is making the same weapon that saved the day look evil. Many people have never even heard of this shooting because it wasn’t widely covered in the media. “Man Stops Church Shooting With Custom Built AR-15” doesn’t really fit the gun control narrative.

Meanwhile, the media discusses the shooter for weeks and digs into every aspect of their lives. We need to refer to mass shooters as the criminals they are, praise the men and women who stop them, and make sure the criminals are prosecuted.

Extended Prison Sentences

Places like New York State offer “No Bail” release programs for offenders. The state claims these programs are only for minor offenses until you look at the list. Conspiracy to commit murder, money laundering, bail jumping, sex trafficking, and “any crime causing the death of another person.” People being charged with these crimes must be released on their own recognizance unless they have demonstrated risk of flight. 

The same state saying “we need more gun control” is also letting murderers out of jail with nothing but a “come on back now, ya hear?” Repeat offenses have skyrocketed in several places with laws like this.

If you don’t feel comfortable with a felon carrying a firearm, maybe he shouldn’t be out of jail yet. Three months for rape isn’t enough for me to believe it’ll never happen again. If you aren’t willing to allow him to carry a gun and vote, maybe he shouldn’t be walking around just yet.

Address the Root of the Issue

Most violence occurs in lower-income areas. Areas with gangs and drug problems unsurprisingly have high amounts of gun violence. Maybe telling the single 23-year-old woman she’s not allowed to protect her life because there are criminals out there isn’t the right approach anymore.

“Disrupting the nuclear family” often forces kids in low-income neighborhoods to be raised by neighbors. Seeing the local crack dealer working the corner every day doesn’t exactly inspire most kids.

Mass shootings are never committed by sane and rational human beings. Looking at ways to get mentally ill people the care they need before something bad happens is essential in reducing mass killings. We need to fund mental health programs and encourage people we know to see someone if they are experiencing issues.

If legal gun owners believed that giving up their firearms would end all violence in their country, many wouldn’t hesitate to do so. However, as countries like Australia have shown us, this is not the case. According to the Australian Institute of Criminology assault rose 47% and sexual assault rose 22%. 

Think of the most violent places in this country. Places like Chicago, LA, and NYC have the strictest gun control in the country. While being escorted by armed security, people like Lightfoot and Cuomo use scare tactics to disarm the people who have to deal with bears and wild hogs.

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