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Guns

In the United States of America, there is a large ongoing debate on the topic of gun politics. Within this debate, there are two main sides fighting. One side claims that America needs to have stricter laws for firearms. The other side pushes for protection for the freedom of gun rights. According to Kim Parker, Ruth Igielnik, Juliana Menasce Horowitz, Baxter Oliphant, and Anna Brown in their 2017 study The Demographics of Gun Ownership, Currently in the United States, three in every 10 adults claim to own a firearm. Also, of these people that claim to own firearms, 2 in every 3 claim to own more than one firearm. Though only three in ten people say they currently own a firearm, roughly 52% of non-gun owning citizens state that they could see themselves owning one in the future. Though there is no true way to determine the exact population of anti-gun citizens vs. pro-gun citizens, we can safely assume that the people who cannot see themselves owning a gun in the future, or who do not currently own a gun accurately represent the anti-gun population. This leaves the pro-gun citizen count at roughly 66%, and the anti-gun citizen count at approximately 33%. Something that is important to understand while looking at gun debates in America is the 2nd Amendment which represents the right to bear arms. The 2nd Amendment states “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” What the 2nd Amendment boils down to is the core function that people have a right to weapons in order for them to maintain a free state. Now let us delve further into both the pro and anti gun arguments, along with their respectable beliefs. Both sides have many great arguments and claims, but in order to properly formulate an opinion on the matter, it is important to understand both sides. To start off, let us assimilate information on pro gun activism. Many pro gun activists believe that any able citizens should have a right to own a firearm due to the second amendment. Any laws out of reason which aim to restrict gun rights would infringe upon the right to bear arms. According to Justice Antonin Scalia in the District of Columbia vs. Heller court case which happened June 26th, 2008, “The Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defence within the home”. Many pro gun followers also claim that gun ownership discourages crime rather than encouraging it. They claim that people will think twice about commiting a crime with the knowledge that many of the people around them carry a firearm. According to Mark Gius in his Journal An Examination of the effects of concealed weapons bans on state-level murder rates published on November 26th, 2013, applying bans on assault weapons does not cause a significant difference on murder rates at a state level. Mark also determined through his study that states which did not allow concealed carry to be practiced had higher crime rates. Another argument put forward is that by revoking people’s right to bear arms, you deny them the comfort of feeling safe. Without a firearm, some people may become hopeless in the case of an attack. On October 6th, 2014, the NRA stated that guns are used at least 2.5 million times yearly for self-defence. According to Pew research Center in their article Why Own a Gun? Protection Is Now Top Reason posted on March 12th, 2013, 58% of women claim that it will be more difficult to protect a household and its inhabitants without guns, and 61% of men agree. Yet another argument is that attempting to regulate guns will not prevent criminals from obtaining them. According to a study conducted in 2014 by Mark Follman, Gavin Aronsen and Deanna Pan in which they took information from many cases having to do with death from a firearm, “Of the 143 guns possessed by the killers, more than three quarters were obtained illegally”. This just goes to prove that whether or not guns are made illegal, people will still gain access to them illegally. Many crimes committed with a firearm were committed with firearms which were illegally obtained. Without the protection of guns, the people no longer have a means to fight back their own government if it were to become corrupt. According to Larry Pratt, the executive director for the NRA, “The second amendment deals with keeping the government from going astray tyrannical direction”. Pro gun activists state that though guns are often used in suicide, suicide rates would not go down in their absence. According to GunPolicy.org, the country Lithuania, a country with only 0.7 guns per 100 people, in the year 1999 had a suicide rate of roughly 45 per 100″,000 people. This was the highest suicide rate among the 71 other countries contained in the study. This just goes to show that guns aren’t what cause people to commit suicide. If a person wishes to end their life and does not have a firearm, they will find another means to do so. Also, firearm supporters state that without firearms, people would have no means to defend against a foreign invader that has arrived on U.S. soil. In 2016, Marco Rubio stated during his senator campaign that “If God forbid, ISIS visits our life, our neighborhood, our school, any part of us, the last thing standing, the last line of defense could very well be our ability to protect ourselves”. And lastly, gun supporters claim that firearm control has been proven to not work in the past. According to a Lancet study conducted in March of 2016, most state-level gun control laws do not reduce firearm death rates. Though this information is only enough to scratch the surface of a much larger beast, it is sufficient to create an understanding of the pro-gun activist’s side. Now let us analyze the anti-gun activists beliefs and standings on the matter. To start, anti-gun activists believe that an incline in laws which encompass gun regulation would reduce the total number of gun deaths in America. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), in total there have been roughly 464″,00 gun deaths, 270″,000 suicides, 175″,000 homicides, and 9″,900 accidental deaths due to guns between 1999 and 2013. Anti-gun activists also believe there should be a ban on high capacity magazines because they often are used to commit mass murder. According to Mark Follman and Gavin Aronsen in their article “A Killing Machine”: Half of All Mass Shooters Used High-Capacity Magazines published on january 30th, 2013, at least half of all mass shootings that have happened between 1982 and 2012 were done with high capacity magazines. Another point that anti-gun citizens bring up is that a women’s safety is at risk, especially in cases of domestic abuse when a gun is present. According to Arkadi Gerney and Chelsey Parsons in their 2014 article Women under the Gun: How Gun Violence Affects Women and 4 Policy Situations to Better Protect Them, at least 5 women are murdered with a firearm each night. Also, as cited by Charlene Baker in her 2010 journal, a woman’s chance of being killed in a domestic violence situation increase by 500% if a firearm is present. Anti-gun debaters claim that guns are rarely used in a situation involving self-defence. Michael Plantey and Jennifer Truman from the Bureau of Justice stated that of all crimes committed within 2007-2011, only 0.79% of victims of violent crime protected themselves with a firearm. Another argument offered is that guns are stolen often by criminals who are not legally allowed to use the firearm. The National Academic Press stated in 2013 that a vast majority of firearms used in criminal acts are acquired through illegal transaction. Also, anti-gun owners believe that high capacity magazines should be illegal. Another belief is anti-gun activists push forward is that the presence of a gun is more likely to make a situation violent. Susan Baker states in her 1985 journal that in the United States, roughly two thirds of brawn related deaths were due to firearms. Anti-gun citizens argue that countries with restrictive gun control laws have lower homicide and suicide rates. They also believe that the second amendment does not encourage all able citizens to own a firearm, but rather it states that militias can own firearms. According to Michael Waldman, head of the department of justice in NY university school, The supreme court never mentioned anything about the individual’s right to bear arms, but rather the right for militias to bear arms. He also mentions that before the U.S. Constitution was released, the right for individual people to bear arms was rejected 4 times. Lastly, anti-gun activists argue that there is no need for someone to own a military grade weapon, no matter what their profession is. Many people believe that whether or not the right to bear arms should be allowed for the individual, there is absolutely no reason for any civilian to own a military grade rifle. Anti-gun enthusiasts have pushed forward these beliefs and many others. Though this is only a small sliver of what has been argued, it is an amount substantial enough to formulate an understanding on the anti-gun activists point of view. In current times, the most debated topics in relation to gun violence are those gravitating around school shootings, and whether personal gun ownership should be legal for a civilian. In the U.S. there is a major dilemma when it comes to school shootings. In the current year, 2018, we are averaging at 1.25 school shootings per week. Each of these shootings include at least one person being shot who was not the shooter themself. The U.S. has the highest number of school shootings of any country in the world. This raises many red flags. After seeing this statistic, people begin to draw the conclusion that the U.S. is far worse than other countries when it comes to gun crime. Many anti-gun citizens state that an accurate solution to end the gun violence problem would be to ban guns for civilian use completely. However, when it comes to gun violence in America, we find that though we may have more school shootings than other countries we are far from the worst in the world in overall gun violence. In the cited figure below from the Crime Prevention Research Center’s 2018 article, we can see that when it comes to overall public mass shootings, The U.S. is actually ranked at number 11 in the world, close to other developed countries such as Austria, Canada, England, Germany, Russia, Italy, etc. It is simply inaccurate to state that the U.S. ranks the worst in the world when it comes to mass shootings. Still, People claim that if firearms were out of the picture, we could significantly lower the death rate in our country. Though this solution makes sense from an outside perspective, it is of utmost importance to understand this situation from every angle. Guns are not the main cause murder in America. In accordance to data cited from the FBI by the Daily Caller, in 2016, knife deaths outnumber gun deaths 5 to 1. They also stated that “1″,604 people were killed by knives and other cutting instruments, while 374 were killed by rifles”. After analyzing the data presented and seeing that even the countries with far more mass shootings have less school shootings than us, we can draw the conclusion that in order to stop school shootings in America we needn’t ban guns. We should instead increase the security of our schools. The outcry of the adult and student population of the U.S. has become prominent in modern news. Clearly something has to be done to solve the immediate threat of school shootings, and help for long term safety in the classrooms of our country. This, however, is where the waters become murky. People often dispute between the best way to keep our schools safe in a country with civilian firearms. Some people state that schools need to be better protected and have more means of security. Ideas for added security measures include the implementation of clear backpacks so the contents of a backpack are clearly shown, and incorporating a way for a small number of teachers to legally conceal and carry a firearm on school property. By looking further into these topics we can see whether or not they are effective. If they are not effective, then we can discuss possible solutions. Let’s start by talking about the see through backpacks. On February 14th, 2018, Stoneman Douglas High School experienced a mass shooting in which 17 people were fatally shot. In response to this incident the school has set up barricades, increased police presence, and made it mandatory for every student to wear a see through backpack. After the implementation of clear backpacks, students immediately began to reject the idea. For example, student Carly Novel stated April 2nd “These backpacks don’t protect us. We aren’t any safer than we were before. Now, it’s just more complicated.” Another example from a student Kyra Simon’s April 2nd post where she stated “To clarify, my issue is that statistically we face no threat of further violence on campus. Increased police presence, barricades, and clear backpacks are a waste of my community’s resources and do nothing to ensure our safety. Focus should be on buyback programs, counseling etc”. It is clear that the students are not comfortable with this transition. School is meant to be a place of learning. By enforcing clear backpacks the school is invading the students privacy, and punishing the students for the crime of school shooters. Coming up with a solution to prevent school shootings is not something that should be rushed. Now let us look into concealed carry and how it can effectively be used in a classroom. Many people are appalled by the idea of arming school teachers with firearms as they fear it creates an unsafe environment for the children. I am here to argue, however, that even if guns are the tool of a school shooter, their presence is an outstanding deterrents for crimes. A real world example of guns being used in the classroom can be found in Texas. Texas contains roughly 172 districts in which teachers or staff are allowed to be armed with a firearm on school property. This is due to the Marshall program, a law passed in 2013. Benjamin Wermund states in his article How Texas is a Model for Trump’s Gun-Toting Teachers, “Schools can designate one marshal for every 400 students, or one per building in schools that don’t have that many students”. He also states that “backers insist it’s been effective, pointing to the lack of active shooter assaults at schools in the state”. School Marshals are required to go through a series of psychological tests, physical evaluations, and are even required to take 80 hours of police training. The idea of marshalls receives a lot of criticism from those who have children attending public school as they fear for their child’s safety while around an armed teacher. Although It is completely understandable why they would be concerned, it is important to note that most schools already have an assigned armed police officer. Any school marshall would have to go through the same police training that the school officer had gone through along with the required psychological and physical evaluations. In a case of a school shooting, Marshalls will have a fighting chance to defend the students from an active shooter rather than have to wait for the police to arrive. After analyzing the data, I found that there is a clear benefit that comes with the incorporation of school marshall’s as both a deterrent, and a first line of defence. Overall, Both anti-gun and pro-gun movements have put forward an excellent compilation of arguments that are both heavily valid. However, after carefully studying the data and statistics from each side, I have found that banning guns is not a feasible options. The United States of America should increase the prerequisites for legally purchasing a firearm and increase the security of places susceptible to mass shootings such as schools.

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