By Guest Journalist Jefferson Liu
Starting with the massacre of students at Columbine High School in 1999, the gun debate has been a contentious issue. Here’s a different perspective on gun rights, from the IHS Association of Conservative Students.
Some claim banning guns will lead to fewer murders. That is false. According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, Ireland banned guns in 1972 and Jamaica banned guns in 1975; both countries spiked in homicide rates, continuing to 2005. In England and Wales, gun bans in 1997 led to homicide spikes as well. However, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has stated that during the same period (1970s-2005), the US decreased its homicide rates while increasing gun ownership. We can infer that guns are deterrents to crime in this context, since knives, according to a 2014 Smithsonian report, are weapons of choice for committing crimes in regions with strict gun control.
Guns can kill many people in a short amount of time, but compared to other attacks, cause fewer casualties. Globally, other weapons can cause more casualties. In China, a country where guns are completely banned, a man killed 8 students and wounded 5 others in six minutes, as reported by The Guardian. The Diplomat and China Daily both reported that in 2014, 29 people were killed and 143 others were injured within 10 minutes during a terrorist attack in Kunming. An Al Jazeera article mentioned of a truck attack in France that killed 86 people and injured 458 in 5 minutes.
Gun control supporters claim stronger regulations and stricter background checks on guns must be done. In a sense, that is right, since recent mass shootings in America were perpetrated by mentally unstable people. In their coverage of the trial of James Holmes, the 2012 theater shooter, the Denver Post reported that he had suffered mental health issues for a long time, and showed signs of violent intent. In the aftermath of the Parkland school shooting, a local news station indicated that shooter Nikolas Cruz had a long history of animal abuse, had a history of "a pattern of disciplinary issues and unnerving behavior." Florida state investigators also found that Cruz was suffering from depression, autism, and ADHD. Virginia Tech shooter Cho Seung Hui also suffered from anxiety, selective mutism, and severe depression. From this, the commonality of many mass shooters is noticeable: each had at least one mental illness. So yes, there does need to be regulations on guns, but not stricter gun laws. The issue is mental health, and to address this, conduct stronger mental screening, a 30-day wait period, and mandatory gun retraining every three years. If blanket regulations were applied to gun transactions, it would simply limit the ability of legal gun owners to prevent crimes.
Others argue our rates of gun violence are high compared to countries such as Finland or Switzerland, and Italy. First and foremost, the United States has around 313 million people as of today, which is far higher than Finland's 4 million, Switzerland's 8 million, and even Italy's 61 million. As indicated by the demographic comparison website NationMaster, when there are more people, the possibility of crime is higher. A possible counterargument that could be brought up in the face of this reasoning would be China, which has a low crime rate overall. But this was only achievable through stringent and omnipresent governmental control of citizens' rights and harsh punishments, something prevented in the US by the 8th Amendment.
Someone else could argue for gun control based on Japan’s gun laws, but these arguments are unsuited for the context of this argument. Why? The United States shares a very long land border with a comparatively unsafe country: Mexico. It is public knowledge that drug cartels have smuggled arms and illegal narcotics into the United States across the land border in various ways. As cited from Politico, it is difficult to patrol constantly the airspace, land, and the underground between the border of the US and Mexico, which is approximately 2,000 miles long and is the most frequently crossed border in the entire world. By contrast, Japan is an island nation entirely surrounded by ocean, and entry can only be achieved through air or sea travel. Business Insider noted that inspecting maritime and flight travelers and cargo is easier than monitoring every border, every crossing, and every person crossing for the sake of gun regulation.
Bans and excessive regulations are not the answers to the problem of mass shootings in the US. Rather, making sure legal guns stay out of the wrong hands will see the answer to the single most important issue of our safety and our children's safety.