(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Diamond Bar High School

Opinion: Regulate people not guns

The battle over gun control has been vigorous as both sides have been unrelenting to each other’s ideas. Some citizens say that everyone should be able to own a gun, while others have wanted to completely ban all firearms.

As a pistol shooter and a member of the National Junior Shooting Team who participates in national competitions, I believe that while the right to bear arms in the Second Amendment should be kept, there should be more regulation on who can purchase firearms because criminals today have the ability to obtain firearms, background checks are not very strict, and more laws regarding firearm distribution will make communities safer. 

One drawback of not regulating firearms is that people with mental health needs that own guns could potentially and unintentionally hurt others or themselves, leading to more deaths and problems. According to Gifford’s Law Center, which is a policy organization that works to prevent gun violence, over 22,000 deaths result from gun suicide each year.

Suicide rates would increase because people with depression or other mental health conditions could obtain a gun and end their lives. Overall, allowing all people to own guns would be a disaster because they put such weapons in the hands of people who can inadvertently hurt themselves, and also, these dangerous weapons can even be used for violence and crime. According to Pew Research Center, nearly 40,000 Americans died due to firearms in 2017, the largest amount in a year in decades.

Currently, criminals can still find loopholes through existing rules to obtain firearms. According to a report from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, if the licensee does not receive a response within three business days, the transfer may proceed at the licensee’s discretion. This gun law, that applies to the entire nation, also states that if an FBI background check on a gun buyer takes more than three days, the gun sale is approved by default. 

This is a major flaw because it means that even though a background check is conducted, if it takes too long to process and reach the gun dealer, that person is allowed to sell the firearm, despite the fact that the gun buyer could be a criminal.

Another major fault in gun control laws is that they do not prevent suspected members of terrorist organizations from buying or having guns and explosives. According to a report from the Congressional Research Center, being a known or suspected terrorist was not a “disqualifying factor for firearms transfer and possession eligibility; nor is it today under current law.” 

This also exposes a major flaw in the law because it shows how even the most dangerous people in our society can still purchase firearms. Basically, terrorists can obtain firearms legally without any regulations or checks. To summarize, these facts reveal the holes in the U.S’s gun control system, because those with a record of criminal and violent acts can still find a way to acquire guns.

To make matters even worse, background checks are actually becoming more lenient. Also explained by the report from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, federal background check denial investigations decreased by “nearly 50%, prosecutions decreased by 77%, and guilty pleas and verdicts decreased by about 82%.”

This explains that background checks are becoming less strict and allowing more people to obtain firearms because fewer people are being prosecuted for unlawfully purchasing guns. 

Further, the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System states that individuals on the terrorist watch list were involved in firearm or explosives background “checks 2,233 times, of which 2,043 (about 91 percent) of the transactions were allowed to proceed.”

This statistic shows the drastic amount of suspected terrorists that were allowed to obtain firearms, despite having a criminal record and even being on an FBI terrorist watch list. 

It is clear background checks are becoming more lenient on who can own guns because they allow dangerous individuals to be able to purchase firearms. Overall, with even dangerous suspected terrorists getting their hands on firearms, our society is in more peril of gun violence than ever before.

More regulation on gun ownership has been proven to lead to safer places to live. Guns Down America (GDA) is an organization that supports the anti-gun movement by building political and cultural support for it. According to GDA, after the state of Connecticut passed a gun licensing law for handguns, “it experienced a 40% drop in gun homicides & 15% reduction in handgun suicides.”

These statistics show how death rates drop when more laws to regulate who can own guns are implemented. There is an inverse correlation between the number of laws regulating ownership of guns and the rate of death from guns–the more gun ownership is regulated, the fewer deaths there are. 

In the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, it was revealed that local-level background checks were associated with a “27%-lower firearm suicide rate and a 22%-lower homicide rate.”

Again, these facts show that more gun control laws that are strict on people’s usage of firearms lead to less deaths.

In America, people have a Constitutional right to bear arms, but not if they have shown the potential to use guns to hurt others or themselves with those guns. Just as criminals can lose their freedom in a free country like ours, those who have a record of breaking the law should have their gun rights restricted. 

There should be more regulation on who can own guns because criminals still have the ability to obtain firearms, background checks are not firm enough and even becoming more lenient, and more regulation keeping guns out of dangerous people’s hands leads to safer communities to live in.

With the overwhelming evidence of the effectiveness of human regulation of gun ownership in increasing people’s safety, there is no denying the need for regulating who can obtain firearms. Gifford’s Law Center states that 36,000 Americans die from guns each year. Now it is your job to spread the message before it is too late–the next preventable gun death in America is just right around the corner.