Pros and cons of gun control in the United States

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Pro by Lindsey Wormuth | Distribution Manager

Stricter gun control can sometimes seem like a never-ending argument against the Second Amendment and about whether gun laws can really keep people safe. The Second Amendment states that because a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed upon. I never thought gun laws were too weak until I was in a situation involving a minor who had access to guns.

In May of 2018, I was at Noblesville High School the day that a school shooting took place at Noblesville West Middle School, nearly eight minutes away. I remember being told to barricade the door and windows and take cover in a corner. Although the shooting was not at my high school, not knowing what was going on and whether there also would be an active shooter at the high school was terrifying. The middle school shooter was a 13-year-old boy who injured a teacher and a student. According to The Washington Post, there were 90 school shootings nationwide in the two years of 2020-2022. Parents should be able to send their children to school and not worry about their children having to barricade themselves because their school has an active shooter.  

“When the Post analyzed these [school] shootings, it found that more than two-thirds were committed by shooters under the age of 18,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. “The analysis found that the median age for school shooters was 16.” To gain more control over who has access to guns, they need to be less accessible to teenagers.

Besides school shootings, a gunman at the Greenwood Park Mall on July 17 “fired shots inside the food court . . . killing three people,” according to WTHR. The gunman was 20 years old, another young shooter. 

Gun safety will always be an issue in the United States. To reduce shootings and gun-related suicides, we need to raise the minimum age to purchase guns, ban assault weapons, and require a permit in all states to carry a handgun. Despite the ongoing arguments, gun control legislation must be passed.  People are suffering mass tragedies as a result of legislators’ inaction. According to the Indiana Government website, as of July 1, 2022 the State of Indiana will no longer require a handgun permit to legally carry, conceal or transport a handgun within the state. A common misconception about the law is that it allows anyone to be able to carry a handgun. There are still standards you have to meet to be able to legally carry. For example, anyone who was convicted of domestic violence or battery charges, was imprisoned for a federal offense “exceeding one year” or anyone under the age of 18 will not be able to legally carry a gun in Indiana, according to the Indiana Government website.

According to the National Rifle Association, “Even if criminals did submit to background checks, we’ve seen that these checks aren’t effective at stopping those who intend to use guns to commit crimes.” The NRA-ILA has created scenarios showing how  background checks can be ineffective. One NRA-ILA scenario says this: “A drug addict lies about their addiction on a federal background check form. Although this individual is committing a federal crime, a background check most likely won’t stop them.” Another NRA-ILA scenario says this: “A person with no criminal history walks into a store to buy a gun they’ll use to commit a crime. A background check most likely won’t stop them.”Ultimately, there is no guaranteed way to identify whether someone who is purchasing a gun will commit a crime, but minimizing the people who can access guns can. Increasing the amount of steps with a background check could help eliminate the people who buy them to commit crimes. People should be able to go to school, the mall, or a club without the fear or threat of a shooting. The only way to reduce shootings is to change the laws.

Graphic by Gabe Eastridge

Con by Olivia Pastrick | Staff Writer

Many proponents of an increase in gun control in the United States do not take into consideration the ineffectiveness of the current laws in place regarding citizens’ rights to bear arms. For example, the Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits holders of Federal Firearms Licenses from transferring licenses to certain groups of people classified as irresponsible or potentially dangerous, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. However, this small form of gun control is clearly not doing its supposed job to stop or limit gun violence in the United States, as indicated by the 110 homicides in Indianapolis alone this year as of June 30, according to Fox59. The question is still whether federally imposed gun control laws can be effective in reducing gun violence in the United States.  

For starters, the root of the problem is not guns, it is people. Criminals with the intent to kill people would not likely be swayed from committing crime by additional laws when they are already breaking other laws. According to the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, 43.2% of prisoners in state or federal prison got their guns “off the street or on the underground market,” which would not be affected by additional gun control laws. Similar logic can be applied in examining the effectiveness of background checks for people who purchase firearms with the intent to harm others. These individuals already intend to break the law, so they would not likely be deterred by having to lie on a government form to pass a background check to obtain a gun. 

Similarly, homicide rates in countries where guns are banned have not gone down. According to the California Rifle and Pistol Association, the United Kingdom’s homicide rate in 1996, before handguns were banned, was 1.12 per 100,000 people. In 1997, the year handguns were banned, it rose to 1.24, and in 2002 it peaked at 2.1 homicides per 100,000 people.

There have been times when, in U.S. cities, bans have been placed on the purchase and possession of guns. For example, the city of Chicago enacted a handgun ban in 1982 that prohibited residents from owning handguns for their own use even in their homes and required existing gun owners to re-register their weapons every year, according to ABC7. This law made Chicago the city with the strictest gun laws in the country at that time, yet it did not curb murders in the city. According to the Chicago Tribune, in the decade after it banned handguns, murders jumped by 41 percent, compared with an 18 percent increase throughout the country. Again, this ban did not deter criminals with the intent to cause harm from obtaining firearms. The law was effectively made unenforceable by a 2010 Supreme Court decision that the Second Amendment protection of the individual’s right to possess firearms applies to cities and states, according to ABC7. 

Additionally, there have been situations in the United States in which citizens armed with guns have helped take down people trying to inflict harm. For example, the Greenwood Park Mall shooting on July 17 was stopped within 15 seconds after it began by a citizen with a gun, according to WTHR. A ban on guns, or even stricter gun control laws, might have prevented the bystander from carrying a gun in the mall; and the shooting could have been much worse. Finally, with distrust in the government so high in the United States, pro-gun citizens consider their guns a level of protection against tyrannical government practices, according to NPR. People fighting for their right to bear arms also worry that if the government infringes upon the Second Amendment, nothing will stop the government from changing or taking away other rights that are seen as cornerstones of American life.

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