Would gun control stop gun violence? Much of the American public seems to think so. A lot of people politicize these mass shootings as reasons to ban assault rifles or firearms from American civilians as a whole. There certainly is some evidence showing that gun control would lower gun violence, however, the key word there is gun. Gun control wouldn’t do much of anything to stop the key issue at hand: violence. If we enacted tighter gun laws, then chances are they wouldn’t do so much to impact violent crime rates in general, just violent crimes committed with firearms. Getting rid of, or limiting access to guns, is not worth the risk that we face by doing that. Alternatively, If we did do things to help lower the incentive of commiting violent acts in our communities in the first place, then that would lower violent crime rates all across the board, rather than just in just the firearm sector, therefore solving our gun violence problem and more.
A gun is a tool. While the purpose of this tool may be awful and horrible, it’s still nonetheless a tool. And an essential one at that. I think most all of us can agree that violence is a reprehensible, terrible thing, but sadly sometimes it is our only option. Which is why the right to bear arms is such an important thing to many, many individuals. Defending ourselves from ruthlessly violent, oppressive forces is a must have, and while non-violent options are ALWAYS ideal, sometimes you have to resort to defending yourself using violence.
Of course there’s the argument for needing a gun to protect yourself from criminals, but I think more importantly in this day and age the government is a much more dire threat. Police brutality & corruption as well as prevalent unjust laws, corporate-government collusion that essentially rigs the economy and oppresses small business, as well as the working and middle class, and the government’s sometimes blatant disregarding of our civil liberties, Bill of Rights, and the majority of the american populace as a whole. Trusting only government employed officials to carry heavy firearms, or even more so, all types of guns, is a very foolish, and misguided idea.
It feels like the American populace nowadays cowers in fear when it comes to guns every time a mass shooting happens. They always politicize them to make guns look like the root cause, and that mass shootings are a dire threat to the safety of the nation to pass harsher gun legislation. However, if you look at mass shootings from a purely objective perspective, they aren’t actually a serious threat to the general public. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t condone these shootings in any way or underappreciate just how awful they are, but your chances of dying in a mass shooting, or any other type of terrorist attack is 1 in 20 million. To put this in perspective, you are more likely to be killed by your own furniture or drowning in your bathtub than die in a terror attack. The media over-reports these tragic events to the point where they can seem like they are extremely likely happen to you, but that’s just not true. The media can also sometimes make the world, and even our cities and towns seem unsafe. Besides mass shootings and terrorist attacks, they also like to emphasize reporting on violent things happen in our community, and especially the violent crime epidemic that’s happening in places like South Chicago and Detroit, and sometimes political advocates can make it seem like not having strong enough gun laws is the culprit to this perceived unsafety. However, there are a few issues with this argument.
The first issue with this argument is the fact that crime has fallen very significantly since the crime wave in the early 1990s. Especially homicide. In 2014, according to the FBI, the homicide rate in the United States fell to a 51 year low. So in most of America, we are a lot safer now than we have been in recent years. However, there are some urban areas where crime is much higher than other places. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, poor neighborhoods remain “disproportionately affected” by higher crime rates rather than wealthier, less diverse, and overall more advantaged neighborhoods. There isn’t any data about exactly how many gun deaths occur in poorer neighborhoods rather than wealthier ones, but the Centers for Disease Control claims 81% of gun deaths happen in urban areas. The CDC also claims 80% of homicides are gang related.
Keeping this in mind, there is plenty of evidence to show that gang activity is exponentially more prevalent in poor, especially urban areas rather than wealthier areas; urban, suburban, or rural. So based on all this evidence it is safe to say that a large share of gun homicides in the United States happen in poor, urban areas due to gang violence.
So what’s the importance of this? It shows that the main source of America’s gun violence problem is negative social climates, the root cause of the negative climates that breed this violence being: poverty. Most gang members gain the incentive to join gangs in the first place because they are raised in broken homes in poor neighborhoods. The family environment that gangs offer, the often glamorized portrayal of them in pop culture, and the potential money to be gained from joining a gang in a place that lacks legitimate economic opportunities; they make a person who grew up in a broken home in an impoverished neighborhood feel like being in a gang is the best option for them. The more poverty in the neighborhood, the more broken homes, then the more gangs, then that in turn creates more violence. That’s a very simplified way to put it, as there are far more factors at play that cause violence, poverty, and negative social climates in the first place, but that essentially sums up this argument.
So how can we fix this gun violence problem in the United States? Improve the social climate in poor areas, and everywhere in general to some extent. We need to stop giving into the media; they have a tendency to over-report negative, violent things so they can get higher viewership, which can sometimes make people feel like they are unsafe, when really on average, the U.S is pretty safe for the most part. We need to create more economic opportunities in poor areas, and create more community outreach programs to help deter at risk youth from joining gangs (such as STRYVE, local sports leagues, fine arts programs, etc.) and more.
Trusting a corrupt, awful government to take away our guns to create a sense of false security that won’t address the root of the problem is NOT the way to going about solving the gun violence epidemic in the United States. In fact, there’s even some evidence that shows that in crimes committed with firearms, only 6% of those guns were legally obtained. The key is eliminating the incentive to commit violence in the first place, then guns won’t even be an issue.