Shot in the dark

Shot+in+the+dark

Illustration by: Austin Prairie Chicken

Too many people still vehemently protest rigid gun control, and it’s killing America.

Every year, the lack of gun control laws in the United States results in thousands of gun-related deaths and injuries.

For being such dangerous objects, guns are easy to obtain. While background checks are required to purchase a gun, the requirement applies only to in-store purchases. Less than one percent of background checks actually result in a denial. Furthermore, in some states, background checks are not required to purchase a firearm at a gun show or from online vendors, which presents a safety liability.

An increasing amount of gun violence has occurred in recent years, some of which can be attributed to the lax policies on obtaining guns. According to the GVA (Gun Violence Archive), which monitors statistics for gun violence within the United States specifically, there were over 52,000 incidents involving gun violence in 2015, with 330 mass shootings recorded. These numbers reflect an increase of about one percent in incidents of gun violence, and .85 percent in mass shootings (defined as a shooting where four or more people are killed) from 2014 records. While this may not seem like an alarming increase, putting the actual numbers into perspective sounds alarm bells.

Last year, 13,354 people were killed in gun-related crimes. There were 330 mass shootings over the course of the year. Six-hundred-and-twenty-nine children and 2,371 teenagers were victims of gun violence. People are being injured and dying at an unnerving rate due to gun violence.

Many specific examples of the terrors of gun violence occurred throughout 2015. A mass shooting occurred almost every day in 2015. Some of the most “notable” mass shootings were those in Charleston, Chattanooga, Colorado Springs, Roseburg, and San Bernardino. All of these shootings resulted in the deaths of multiple people, with fourteen people killed and twenty-two others injured in the San Bernardino shooting alone.

This deadly amount of gun violence can be curtailed, however. Take, for example, Australia’s restrictive gun laws. Contrary to popular belief, Australia’s laws are not a complete and total ban on guns; rather, the restrictions regulate the purchase, possession, and use of firearms. Since the strict regulation of firearms went into effect in 1996, after a devastating massacre in Port Arthur where 35 people were killed and another 18 were injured, the number of deaths related to firearms declined 47 percent. In similar terms, firearm suicides have decreased 15 percent since the enactment of the stricter gun laws in Australia.

Too many people, (looking at you, Republican Party), feel as though the enactment of gun laws will not have an impact on the amount of gun violence in America. They believe that criminals do not purchase guns legally to commit their crimes, which is true, to an extent. However, impulsive crimes, or crimes committed by amateurs, occur often in daily life, (around thirty people are shot and killed every day) and in these scenarios, legally purchased firearms are often the culprit. If a firearm is readily available in someone’s home, an impulse crime committed due to anger or frustration certainly becomes a greater risk. People are still able to purchase firearms with almost no waiting period, (and none if purchased at a gun show), and from that moment on, the weapon becomes susceptible to use in a violent crime.

Furthermore, even when guns used to commit crimes are not legally purchased, the fact of the matter remains that guns are too readily available to criminals. Even if the weapon was not legally purchased in the first place, but illegally manufactured, illegally sold, and used in a violent crime, the situation still remains that guns are too easy for American citizens to obtain. Sure, you can never prevent the illegal manufacture and sale of bootleg firearms; however, by cracking down on the proliferation of guns in the United States, the government could put a significant dent in the amount of violent crime committed with firearms.

Australia had a “best-case” scenario in terms of the results of their gun control laws. Still, the implementation of any sort of gun control in America would certainly aid in preventing the numerous injuries and deaths related to gun violence. The United States accounts for less than five percent of the world’s population; yet, it holds an average of 42.5% of the world’s entire arsenal of firearms. The United States has the highest number of homicides by firearm out of the most developed countries in the world.

I do not live in an ideal world where controlling the purchase, possession, and usage of guns ends all instances of gun-related violence. I understand that, regardless of any laws that are or aren’t enacted, gun violence will still be an issue the modern world has to face. However, strict regulation of the sale of any firearm could potentially save thousands of lives every year, and to many people, including myself, that is reason enough to fight for more gun control.

We are a little over a month into the new year. There have already been over 3000 incidences of gun violence in the United States. There have been seven mass shootings. Over 800 people have already been killed, and just over 200 of those people were children under the age of 18. The countless injuries and deaths each year related to gun violence are senseless and completely preventable. I am not calling for the end to all human rights in America, nor am I calling for complete  government control over the lives of the American people. What I am calling for is an end to the senseless injury and murder of thousands of people every year.

Is that so much to ask for?