The opinions that are expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not wholly reflect those of KnightVision Media, Farmington High School, or Farmington School District.
With the tragedy that took place in Parkland, Florida still fresh in our minds, the gun control debate is bound to come back into the public view. However there are some things that people can't seem to realize about this debate, this article will discuss those things.
The first important thing to realize is that this absolutely is the time to talk about gun control. Many conservative leaders and gun rights activists will say things like “this is the time for grieving, not a debate” or “can we not stop for just a second and grieve with these families, rather than trying to politicize everything?”. What these people don't realize is that by that logic there would never be a time to have this debate. According to FOX news there have already been 4 school shootings this year in the US that were aimed specifically at killing students, and as many as 18 shootings total if you count the shootings that just happened to be on school campuses, but were not specifically aimed at harming students. With these horrific shootings occurring every couple of weeks, there will never be a time to have this debate. On top of that, it's obvious that those affected by these shootings want change, and want to fight to prevent these things from happening.
In a commentary published by CNN, 17 year old Cameron Kasky recounted his terrifying experience of the shooting in Parkland; he didn't stop there though. A large portion of this commentary was spent talking about the gun epidemic in America, and the fact that politicians need to take action saying “We can't ignore the issue of gun control this tragedy raises. And so, I'm asking, no demanding, we take action now”. He even said, in reference to politicians, that “this time my classmates and I are going to hold them to account.” After this Kasky took a stab at gun organizations such as the NRA, saying that although this was not a direct attack by the NRA, “the shooter is not the only one with a problem”. Kasky said that the shooter “lived in a society where Senator Marco Rubio refuses to take responsibility for the role gun culture may have played in this tragedy”, referencing Rubio’s statement that proposed gun laws wouldn't have prevented the tragedy.
Speaking of the NRA, lets move to the second major point on gun control: statistically, guns do not save lives. That's right, contrary to what the NRA would like you to think, there is actually no proof that guns save huge numbers of lives. Many gun rights groups love to say that guns save 2.5 million lives a year; not only is this an incredibly outdated number, it's simply false. When they use this statistic they refer to a study conducted by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz in 1992. This 26 year old study has been proven time and time again to be fundamentally flawed, and never has another credible study found statistics that are even comparable to those of Kleck’s. This 2.5 million number is pretty bold considering the fact that there were only an estimated 931,100 violent crimes committed with handguns in the year of 1992 according to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). This would mean that victims were nearly 3 times more likely to use guns than criminals. The NCVS, which is a study conducted by the Department of Justice, found that from 1987-1992, there were only about 83,000 crimes a year that involved defensive gun use (DGU, this doesn't necessarily involve firing the weapon, it just means it was presented or used to threaten someone) or their property. On top of contradicting well known and highly respected studies, the Kleck study was also incredibly small. According to David Hemenway, a professor at Harvard, this is how Kleck came up with this outrageous number: out of the 5,000 people that were surveyed, 66 (or 1.33%) said they had used a gun in self defense. Multiply the 1.33% by the 200 million adults in America and you’ve got a figure good enough for Gary Kleck! The survey also didn't distinguish between defense against animals, or military or police use, this can be found in the same article that explained the Kleck study earlier in this article.
More modern statistics also differ from that of the Kleck study. According to the NCVS, from 2013-2015 there were an estimated 16.5 million attempted or completed violent crimes in America. Not surprisingly, only 175,000 of these crimes involved defensive gun use. And from 2010-2014, a very similar time period, there were only 1,125 justifiable homicides using a gun.
All of these statistics lead me to believe that DGU is simply rare. Out of the countless studies, academic papers, and articles I read while writing this story, I never found a single credible source or statistic that even came close to alluding that DGU is common. Every source I found said the same thing: defensive gun use is rare. Coupled with this are the whopping 169,395 firearm related deaths in the US from 2011-2015, 105,183 (62%) of which are suicides. On top of that for every one person killed by guns, about 2 people are injured by them. All of these things beg the question, is it really worth it? Is it really worth claiming that guns save lives when statistically they don't and tens of thousands of people die a year due to them?
The last thing I would like to point out is the fact that America is the only country with this problem. The homicide rate is 25 times the average of other developed countries such as Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom according to the CDC. America accounts for 46% of the population of the world's developed countries, yet we account for 82% of gun related deaths. We have 3.61 gun murders per 100,000 residents compared to Canada, which is second to America, which only has .50, once again, according to the CDC.
Mass shooting rates in America are also astronomical compared to most of these countries. England had the worst mass shooting in its history in 1996, and haven’t had one since. Australia also had the worst mass shooting in its history that same year, and hasn’t had one since. You may be wondering “how have they had so little mass shootings”? The answer is simple: they enacted strict gun control measures. They learned their lesson and acted, clearly America hasn't considering there have been nearly 80 since 1996 in America.
It's time to take action, it's time to ban the things that have made these shootings so horrific. We need to start by closing the gun show loophole nationwide. The gun show loophole is a loophole that allows private dealers to sell guns without background checks and without a permit, as long as they are selling from a private collection and aren't selling for the sole purpose of making a profit. They also don't have to report their sales to the government, which means that criminals can easily walk into any gun show and buy a weapon without question and without law enforcement knowing.
We also need to ban AR-15's and AR-15 style rifles. These rifles were have been used in a huge number of mass shootings for one reason: they are designed to kill. It's as simple as that, no one uses an AR-15 or AR-15 style rifle to hunt, they use them to kill. That's why these types of guns were used in the Sandy Hook shooting which killed 27, the San Bernardino shooting which killed 14 and injured 21, the Pulse Nightclub shooting which killed 49 and injured 50, the Las Vegas shooting which killed 58 and injured over 500, a shooting at a church in Texas which killed 26, and just recently at the tragedy in Parkland Florida, which killed 17 innocent teenagers.
Finally, we need to ban bump stocks and high capacity magazines. Bump stocks are what allowed the Las Vegas shooter to be as effective as he was, and turn a legal, semi automatic weapon, into a much deadlier automatic weapon. The ban on high capacity magazines should also be signed back into law. In 1994 a law was passed to do just this, but the law expired in 2004, and hasn't been reinstated since. Even when the law was in place, it wasn't 100% effective. The law banned the production and possession of high capacity magazines, as long as they were not lawfully possessed before the enactment of the law. It was very easy to lie about when you possessed the magazines since there was no tracking of them. A new law would need to ban them completely, and prevent them from being produced and possessed, with no expiration. High capacity magazines are a key roles in the effectiveness of these shooter, which is why they were used in 50% of mass shootings from 1984-2012.
We know for a fact that guns do not save large number of lives, and we also know for a fact that they take too many. Just wonder, how many of those 20,000 people a year wouldn't commit suicide if they couldn't get a gun? How many of the, on average, 13,000 innocent people who die a year due to guns would be alive today? How many teachers, teens, and elementary schoolers would be alive today if those mass shooters couldn't get guns? It's time to wake up America, it's time to stop ignoring the facts and face the truth. Sooner or later, when we come to the realization that guns do not save lives, we will have to ask ourselves “is it really worth it?” As someone who hears about my peers getting slaughtered on a monthly basis, I ask that we start changing. It's sickening to even think about going through something like that, but unfortunately since we have politicians that would rather accept their paychecks from the NRA rather than doing what needs to be done, it is a fear that must constantly be in the back of my mind. I hope that one day we will learn from other countries in the world that are leading in mass shooting prevention, and do what needs to be done to protect our citizens.