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Gun Violence

Another teenager lays dying in the streets of Chicago, gasping for their last breath of air before becoming another statistic in the rising violent crime rate produced by guns. This has become an all too familiar scenario for families living not only in Chicago, but inner cities throughout the United States. Mainstream media would like for everyone to believe that it is the gun that is to blame for these crimes, while politicians use these unfortunate events to push their anti-gun agendas. Many legislators have addressed the issue of gun violence with ideas from stricter laws, to all out bans on certain types of weapons.

Going back to Chicago, the city has placed a ban on all assault weapons within city limits in hopes of reducing their amount of gun violence. But does the ban on certain types of weapons actually have an impact on violent crime? Sadly, the answer to this question is no. Criminals will not obey gun restrictions, unarmed citizens become victims, and crime rates still continue to increase, with other weapons taking the place of banned firearms. Currently, we live in a country where people are split on whether or not firearms are a good thing or not, and whether banning them is the answer to the explosion of violence that has overcome the nation.

In a National Annenberg Election Survey conducted prior to the expiration of the national assault weapons ban in September of 2004, 60% of Americans favored extending the ban on assault rifles, while only 20% opposed this decision (Adams). Ultimately, the assault weapons ban expired allowing for the purchase of military style weapons such as the AR-15 and AK-47. Not all cities agreed with the ability of citizens to possess such firearms and took the legislation into their own hands. As of today in cities such as Chicago and D. C. it is illegal to possess an assault rifle as defined by its characteristics.

In order for a weapon to be considered an assault weapon it has to have at least one military characteristic such as a pistol grip, threaded barrel, detachable magazine, or collapsible stock. So what has happened in America since the lapse of the federal assault weapons ban? Looking at a timeline of mass shootings shows a total of 38 incidents in the United States since lifting the assault weapons ban, of which only 10 involved the use of assault weapons.

While prior to the expiration of the ban between 1993 and 2003 there were 20 recorded mass shootings, in which assault weapons were used 11 times (Mother Jones). Although at first glance it seems as though after the ban terminated there was a massive increase in shootings, there was a higher percentage of assault weapons used during the ban. This shows that there is in fact a serious gun violence issue in the United States, but the banning of assault weapons is not the answer to the problem.

The reason for this is because a criminal by definition is, of the nature of or involving crime (dictionary. om), they do not care whether or not something is illegal. Whether or not these assault weapons are legal or not doesn’t detour there usage during the commission of a crime. Strangely, whenever a mass shooting occurs a lot of people are quick to blame assault weapons. However, with only 10 being used in mass shooting over the past ten years is a very low number considering an estimated 2,446,294 AR-15 model rifles alone being owned in the U. S. it would seem assault weapons are not the culprit of violent crime (Peters).

Many other countries have also banned assault weapons and even debarred firearms completely. For example France has banned all assault weapons and pistols, allowing only the possession of rifles and shotguns; which the owner must pass a criminal background check and mental health background check as well. After being granted a license to possess a weapon, the licensee must then be re-evaluated every five years to obtain a new permit (Alpers). Unfortunately, on November 13th 2015 over 120 people were killed in a massive attack carried out by terrorists with AK-47 assault rifles.

This again shows that by banning assault weapons, it does not have an impact on preventing crimes committed with these types of guns. Similarly, the country of Britain banned firearms completely in 1998. Making it illegal to possess a firearm without a special government issued license. Yet again this did not detour the mass shooting that took place in 2010, killing 12 people and injuring 30 others (McKirdy). Not surprisingly the shooter involved used hunting rifles to carry out his attacks not assault rifles. Truthfully, assault weapons are in fact not an issue at all when it comes to murder rates.

According to an FBI report released in 2011, there were a total of 12,664 murders in the United States, of which only 323 where committed using a rifle. Unfortunately assault rifles are not categorized outside of the rifle statistic, but of course not all were assault rifles. In fact, handguns accounted for 6,220 of the above mentioned murders with feet and fists accounting for 728. Feet and fist alone killed twice the amount of people as rifles did (DeRusha). If assault rifles only commit at most 3% of murders, then why is everyone so uptight about owning them?

According to proponents of an assault weapons ban, “…these weapons allow a gunman to fire a large number of rounds quickly and without having to reload. ” (Feinstein). Most firearms classified as assault weapons have a magazine capacity over 10 rounds, meaning less time between reloads and less magazines that need to be carried to maximize ammunition. Although it is true that by using an assault rifle a gunman can fire more shots before having to reload, this doesn’t translate to more people being killed. As abovementioned the statistics simply do not support this claim.

In some recent events such as Paris, magazine capacity may have been a factor. However, these are rare anomalies and do not justify the banning of assault weapons. From personal experience, having countless hours of military training, I can contest that a person who is familiarized with a weapon system can reload in only a split second, making the capacity of a magazine a moot point. This just means that a potential mass shooter would have to carry more magazines for their weapon, which would be a convenience issue but not a deterrent in any way.

The simple fact of the matter is that a ban on assault weapons is not the answer to the problem in any way. Instead of bans on assault typed weapons, there are many other things that could be implemented to curve the number of gun crimes committed in the United States. One idea presented by David Brawley is to give firearm manufacturers incentives to create safer guns in general regardless of type. His example of a way to do this is, “They [manufacturers] could produce “smart guns” that can be fired only by authorized users, and that therefore are far less likely to be used in accidental or intentional shootings.

Employing this type of safety mechanism would lead to a very high impact on gun violence throughout the nation. Through the use of biometric technology, only the licensed purchaser of a firearm could discharge the weapon. In addition to making guns themselves safer, there also needs to be a more rigorous mental health background screening in order to be qualified to purchase a firearm of any kind, with an additional mandatory 10 day waiting period. These three things in combination would help to drastically reduce the amount of mentally disturbed people from obtaining weapons and committing mass murders.

Usually, the common factor in mass murders in the United States is the mental health of the malefactor, “Analysis conducted by the Central Florida Intelligence Exchange (CFIX) has found that 79% of mass shootings since 2011 have been perpetrated by individuals with demonstrated signs of continuous behavioral health issues and mental illness. ” (Public Intelligence). According to the research only 3 of the 14 mass shootings that occurred in the U. S. between 2011 and 2013 have been carried out by someone with no history of mental illness.

That being said, it’s apparent that guns do not kill people, but mentally unstable people allowed access to guns do. This is an issue that desperately needs to be addressed in the United States, however that is a completely different debate. In reality it is not possible to stop everyone who wants to commit mass murders regardless of their weapon of choice. To combat this realization many people believe that these incidents can be prevented by allowing law abiding citizens the ability to carry a concealed weapon.

Recently, the events at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, shook the small town when a gunmen killed 10 of his classmates. According to a proposal by Donald Trump, presidential candidate for 2016, these murders could have been drastically decreased if not completely stopped if teacher where armed in schools. At a campaign rally a week after the shooting trump suggested, “…if you had a couple teachers with guns in that room, you would have been a hell of a lot better off. (Scott). This is a very valid point made by Trump, if there were people around who had proper training this horrible tragedy may have been completely averted. In fact, back in 1993 a study was conducted by Dr. Gary Kleck from the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University, which concluded that in that year Americans successfully used firearms as a means of self-defense in at least 2. 5 million times every year (Schulman).

This is a staggering number of crimes prevented by everyday citizens who use firearms as a way to protect themselves prior to please intervention. With the amount of gun ownership in the United States, we should have no problem arming citizens to help protect their communities. According to the ATF, there were over 3. 1 million registered weapons in the U. S. as of March 2012 (Morgenstern), those are legally owned and registered weapons; something criminals avoid doing at all costs so that the weapon used to commit a crime cannot be traced back to them.

This translates to having a large amount of legal gun owners in this county who could indeed protect their communities. As of October 31, 2015 the state of Florida alone has a reported 1,644,945 licensed concealed weapon carriers according to figures released by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Licensing. Unlike Florida, many states do not report this information, but the conclusion can be drawn that tens of millions of Americans carry concealed weapons.

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