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Opinion

Opinion: How effective is gun control?

The United States has become polarized on issues surrounding gun control and the 2nd Amendment. However, research and statistics provide enlightening conclusions about the effectiveness of gun control.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/edwinbai/" target="_self">Edwin Bai</a>

Edwin Bai

December 29, 2022
Why should Americans have access to firearms? According to proponents of gun rights, having ready access to firearms is important for personal self-defense, and though this sentiment may seem true on paper, such an open firearm policy would also have consequential downsides to it. The Trace mentions that defensive gun uses occur in only around 70,000 cases annually, while cases of firearm victimization occur at over seven times the rate of defensive gun uses. Reducing the amount of firearms in circulation would limit the ability to purchase firearms for self-defense, but it would also reduce the amount of gun violence caused by such ease of access to firearms. Thus, the benefits of gun control laws would far outweigh the negative consequences.

Gun rights advocates may point to Chicago gun laws as evidence of strict gun control being ineffective. While it is true that Chicago is home to some of the nation’s highest rates of gun violence, the cause behind it isn’t due to the ineffectiveness of the state’s gun laws. NowThis News explains that the reason behind the city’s high rates of gun violence is largely due to the simplicity of smuggling firearms from states with looser gun control laws. In fact, Indiana, a state bordering Illinois, has some of the loosest gun laws in the nation, making it incredibly easy to purchase a firearm (even as a minor) and transport it across state lines into Illinois, leading to the high rates of gun violence in the state. Although it may be easy to point at Illinois as an example of the ineffectiveness of gun control, closer examination proves the opposite actually: looser gun laws contribute to higher rates of gun violence.

NowThis News goes further to elaborate that 60% of guns found in Chicago crime scenes come from out-of-state, illustrating how Chicago’s gun violence may have more to do with its neighbors than its own gun control laws. Furthermore, Indiana is ranked 28th in terms of strictness of gun laws, which corresponds to its high firearm death rate in the state, higher than Illinois. Although firearm advocates often use Chicago as proof of the ineffectiveness of gun laws, this example actually backfires on them. Rather than prove that stricter gun laws don’t work, they actually prove that looser gun laws correlate with a higher firearm death rate. Chicago’s strict gun laws aren’t the problem; it’s Indiana’s loose gun laws that are, and coupled with the ease of transporting firearms across state lines, Chicago’s gun violence is evidently a problem influenced by external forces, not internal. 

But what about the 2nd Amendment? Don’t all Americans have a right to own firearms? Sure, under the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution, American citizens have the right to own firearms, but that doesn’t mean that everyone has free and unopposed access to owning a gun. In fact, the Supreme Court even ruled that the 2nd Amendment is not unlimited, and that gun control laws are not exactly unconstitutional with the exception of laws that outright ban the ownership of firearms such as the handgun ban. 

Another thing to consider is the society in which the 2nd Amendment was drafted. Following the American Revolution, there was widespread hatred and fear of a tyrannical and overbearing government resulting from the many years of unfair treatment by Great Britain. Thus, the founding fathers found it necessary that the people of the US had the power to resist and counteract a tyrannical government should it ever come to power. The idea of the 2nd Amendment made sense at the time, but times have changed over the centuries. The idea of an authoritarian government coming into power is hardly realistic given the numerous checks and balances present within the government, and the purpose of the 2nd Amendment is not very applicable today. 

Moreover, the aforementioned gun laws that would drastically reduce firearm deaths aren’t unconstitutional either, since they do not outright prohibit the ownership of firearms, but rather make the process more stringent. So while the Constitution does state that every citizen has the right to bear arms, it doesn’t mean gun control laws are unconstitutional in any way, shape, or form. It is still possible to implement gun control laws while abiding by the Constitution. In fact, just about every gun control policy in the US today is constitutional, the very same laws that have been proven to save lives. Furthermore, the 2nd Amendment isn’t unlimited either; former supreme court justice Antonin Scalia directly stated that it, “like most rights,… is not unlimited,” as recorded by Vox. This sentiment is reflected in the success rates of 2nd Amendment claims in court: a mere 1% according to the same source. Considering that the American justice system doesn’t place excessive importance on the 2nd Amendment, why should the rest of us? 

American society has been polarized by the issue of gun control, and in the wake of the Uvalde shooting, it has become clearer that we need an answer to this issue immediately. It has been proven that gun ownership has a correlation with an increase in firearm injury within the home, and the belief that having a gun makes you safer has long been debunked. The Harvard School of Public Health outright states that there is no correlation between owning a firearm and higher levels of safety, but there is a correlation between firearms and deadlier violence at crime scenes. Real-world examples prove to us that stricter gun control laws are effective at reducing the rate of firearm deaths. It is indeed possible to increase gun control without violating the constitution while saving the lives of innocent people and children. 

All in all, it is in the best interests of the American public that lawmakers do more to expand gun control laws. It’s far too late to save the victims of gun violence in the past, but with rapid action we can save many more in the future. 

To learn more about the hazards posed by firearms, check out my article on firearm ownership.

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