With the Pulse nightclub shooting in summer 2016, people assumed that there would be some form of hiatus on shootings; they believed with more discussions, it would happen less frequently. However, this proved untrue when, on March 26, a club in Cincinnati experienced true chaos in the form of a gunman, in which he killed one person, hurting 17 others.
After recent events such as this, it once again forces people to discuss and debate the possibility of having gun control in the U.S, a conversation that has resulted in zero progress in the past few years. While a significant portion of the United States argues against gun control because of personal rights, gun control seems to be a necessary evil, as regulations could be crucial in terms of the protection of life.
The Second Amendment by itself is one of the most controversial components of the American government at the moment, which does not clarify the gun debate at all. For example, gun supporters disagree with regulation due to the explicit language of the Amendment, and the “right to bear arms.” To them, the idea of governmental regulation on guns translates to an infringement on rights and unconstitutional actions.
However, the multiple interpretations of the Second Amendment has created a discrepancy. Those in support of gun control assert that this piece of law was created in 1776, with no precedent for the government or the American Revolution, making them unaware of what the future held. As a result, this “right to bear arms” that was proclaimed was only in reference to the creation of a militia. In addition, the musket was the preferred “arm” at the time, as there were no industrially produced guns, such as the assault rifles or semiautomatic weapons that are currently being utilized. Due to this, the “right to bear arms” does not seem just when being used to support a form of weapon that the Forefathers could not foresee.
Moreover, gun control is vital to this nation’s safety, as the increased presence of firearms throughout the country (especially with this recent debate to arm teachers in schools) has the potential to cause even more death, despite the intention being self-defense. Richard Perez-Pena of the New York Times said, “In 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation had more than 33,000 firearms deaths: 70 percent of all homicides (11,208), more than half of all suicides (21,175), and hundreds of accidental and unsolved deaths.”
The occurrence of mass shootings, although tragic, has been exponentially increasing in the past few years, dating all the way back to Columbine. In some instances, gun control felt like one of the major causes, such as the shooting in San Bernardino. The main argument against this is that gun owners do not want to kill, they simply want to feel safer, and it can be used in order to prevent an attack such as the Pulse or Aurora shootings. In the long-run, relaxed rules on gun ownership will hurt more Americans through shootings and incidental killings.
Jay Croft, Shawn Nottingham and Joe Sutton of CNN stated, “Police said several people had been able to sneak guns into the club and they believe more than one person was involved in the shooting.”
Consequently, it seems that the current background check system may not be adequate in preventing attacks on the large scale that the United States has been experiencing. While current background checks prohibit the sale of guns to dishonorably discharged soldiers, mentally disabled people, or felons, it is not sufficient.
For example, in 2015, controversy struck once again when a man named Dylann Roof shot nine people at a church in South Carolina. While it sparked the discussion of racism, it also caused some to question the effectiveness of background checks. Richard Perez-Pena of the New York Times said, “He should have failed a background check…because he had previously admitted to illegal drug possession.” A similar event happened in the Sandy Hook shooting of 2012, in which mental illness came into the picture.
Although gun supporters say that in the past decade, gun ownership and crime have had an inverse relationship, it still seems that some change needs to occur with gun control. While there are numerous organizations present that have attempted to create legal action, something still needs to happen. Stricter gun control and more stringent background checks – ones that allow people like Roof to slip through the cracks – are necessary to improve this nation’s safety.