By Nicoletta Pappas
Because of recent sensationalized media stories of rampant gun violence, Americans are caught up in the idea that imposing more legislation can deter gun violence. The topic of gun control has been argued within Congress for the past decade, with Republicans arguing for less restrictions and Democrats clamoring for more. Society must realize that the issue of gun control is bigger than a conflict between political parties and that it has no effect on actual outcomes. The United States is built on the cornerstones of freedom and liberty, and we should conserve that. The Bill of Rights and Constitution is our foundation constructed to protect individual rights in many different areas, including the right to bear arms in the second amendment. More legislation on gun control has no direct correlation or association in reduction of gun related crimes.
The JAMA Internal Medicine Journal has evaluated the relationship between the number of state gun laws and amount of gun violence a year. They found that although gun violence was slightly lower in states with higher gun restrictions, about 6 fewer deaths per 100,000 people, there is no direct correlation proving the gun laws reduced crime. This conclusion is supported by studies done by Harvard and the National Bureau of Economic Research as well. Environmental and socioeconomic outside factors can also affect results when comparing state gun legislation. Researchers in the JAMA Internal Medicine Journal point out that it is not about the “number of firearms laws,” but “whether the laws ultimately safeguard the citizens they are intended to protect.” States should focus on refining and enforcing current gun laws, not piling on more restrictions that don’t accomplish their intended job.
Chicago is the classic go-to example for any gun proponent. The city of Chicago has witnessed 2,587 gun-related deaths and injuries in the past year, even with Gun-Free Zones, areas where guns are not allowed, indicated with a white, black and red sticker stating “Gun Free Zone.” Many other cities like New York City decided to jump on the bandwagon with the NY SAFE Act, restricting who can obtain a gun in the city and implementing harsher penalties for those who acquire them illegally. With this new increase in gun laws, New York City has seen an increase of nearly 22 percent of shootings in the city from March 2014 to 2015, according to the detection system Shot-Spotter. Maybe this is because they didn’t print enough stickers!
Not all guns used in gun related crimes are acquired legally. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) found that only eight percent of guns sold through licensed stores are responsible for handgun-related crimes. It is impossible to determine how many illegal weapons are present in the United States, considering they are unregistered, but the gun trade is rampant among gangs through transnational trading. In order to reduce gun crime, ATF has created strategies to trace and track the manufacturers of the illegal firearms confiscated in police work. This type of investigation is sometimes successful in locating the origin point of gun trafficking, but not successful in preventing it.
If policy makers are so gung-ho about enacting more gun control legislation, they should fund more efforts in preventing gun trafficking coming in from different countries. This would attack the problem directly at its source, reducing the amount of illegal guns and subsequently reducing the amount of gun crime.
Gun policy is important, but piling on gun legislation is a waste of time for Congress and provides no results. The process of owning a gun is always subjected to general federal restrictions. Congress and the general public should pay attention to the research and focus on different ways to deter gun crime. Controlling violent offenders and understanding why they commit gun crimes is a more reasonable approach. A gun will never kill on its own, it needs a person behind it.