Gun violence continues to dominate public discourse in the US, featuring in news stories all evenings throughout the past decade. Organized crime and possible prevention interventions dominate campaign speeches for political candidates vying for various public offices. Notably, these acts of violence not only affect the victims but the general welfare and security of society. The proposed mitigation measures aimed at addressing gun violence not only carry social ramifications but also infringe on the rights of the people and go against the democratic principles of a civil society. Therefore, the argument that a participatory social network is the only practical means to contain the situation is flawed (Wintemute 2009, p34). The present study addresses the foundations of gun violence to help inform the possible approaches to combating gun violence.
Federal policy on the issue of gun violence has its origin from the Gun Control Act of 1968. The legislation was passed in response to the public outrage following the assassination of John F. Kennedy and renowned human rights crusader Reverend Martin Luther King Junior. It allows citizens to own guns legally (The Politics of Policy-Making 2017/2018). Also, multiple shootings by use of assault rifles including the wounding of President Ronald Reagan and Jim Brady initiated the Brady Act of 1993 and the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban informed the regulation. However, both laws contained less stringent measures to handle these similar occurrences (Goss 2010, p11). Recent research conducted by Stanford University noted that the United States has eighty-eight guns per 100 people, which translates to over two hundred million guns, the highest per capita number globally. Further statistic show over 22 percent of citizens own more than one gun with men leading the pack. American gun culture owes its roots from colonial history, expansion frontier and the second amendment, which indicates that a well-regulated militia is essential to the security of a free state and the rights of citizens to own and keep guns should be protected. The National Rifles Association is mandated with the task of enforcing the law by giving guidelines on who and how to obtain weapons.
In Newtown, Connecticut, a gunman killed twenty children, six adults and took his life in the year 2012. Since then, at least one thousand mass shootings have been witnessed with over 1,500 people dead and seven thousand others wounded as of February 2018. The trend has reawakened the debate on the role of policy in reducing the vice. Gun control should be about judging the role of the government in ensuring enforcement of existing regulation effectively. Additionally, political differences between the ruling and opposition parties have aggravated the situation where both groups insist that their measures are the best. Consequently, the quagmire has not been the means to an end. Researchers argue that more strict rules increase gun violence as there are already 20,000 laws present in the country. In their view, the regulations are merely State and local laws with minimal impact. However, proponents argue that without them the incidence would even be higher.
On the other hand, opponents of gun regulation accuse their counterparts of exaggerating data used to base the claim that self-defense is sufficient to warrant gun ownership. In 2011, only slightly above two million self-defense incidents were observed while the figure quoted was 80,000 times higher. In his book, Robert Spitzer, a political scientist, noted that the Gun Control Act of 1968 provided an ideal case study of how efforts to regulate firearms are directly affected by political processes. He added that President Johnson's proposal to register and license all gun carriers was thwarted due to his limited influence on the enacted law (Spitzer 2015, p47).
Gun-related mass shootings have many causes, from religious extremism to psychological issues. It is visibly evident that Congress is in no position to pass any laws delegitimizing civilian ownership of firearms (Policy Implementation 2018). Switzerland's high level of gun ownership has not affected its low gun violence rate. It is due to strict gun ownership laws present in their country. While this system is seen to work, much more needs to be done in the United States. Measures to revise the existing regulation should be implemented urgently on this multifaceted problem because current laws do not have a holistic, long-term goal
The American Psychological Association contributed to policies enacted to regulate this crime through a research-based report by analysts in homicides, mass shootings or suicides. In their recommendation, any act of gun violence explains the role of masculinity as most perpetrators are men. However, the vast majority of the male population does not engage in these acts. Preliminary evidence found out that changing behaviors and characteristics of dominant male behavior can reduce sexual violence. Such can be ultimately tested to reduce gun-related crimes (Wintemute 2009, p54).
Likewise, developmental issues are perhaps the most significant risk factor for the use of a gun towards self or others. For this reason, no amount of profiling can determine who and where a shooter will strike next. Prevention efforts guided by a community can pinpoint people with such acts and progressively this intervention can be introduced on a national level (Cook 2011, p99).
Limited or no access to guns for high-risk groups such as domestic violence offenders, mentally ill people, convicted persons with violent crime and religious extremists should be implemented in policymaking. Close oversight of background checks can reduce diversion of a gun to criminals. Equally important, a multi-sector approach, for example, legal, public safety, public health, and community can have a profound effect on reducing gun violence.
For a longer lasting solution, programs implemented at community level especially in early childhood enables parents to raise mentally healthy and stable children. It may assist in helping individuals threatening violence (The Limits of Institutional Reform 2013, p71). Advocacy by the mental health community to introduce a collaborative community-based model should be viewed as a milestone in solving this crime. In some states, such interventions have gained success by training community health first aiders and the police, however; this should be expanded to all communities across America. Besides, public health campaigns on appropriate storage of guns by locking them should become socially acceptable.
Urgent attention to policies that are involved in identification and treatment of mentally ill people should be introduced to predict and prevent gun crimes. Similarly, they should be easily accessible to all members of the community (Making Policy n.d). Notably, in schools, workplaces, and colleges behavioral threat assessment has become a standard procedure to prevent violence. From a public health point of view, guns do not cause violence however in their presence violence is seen to be more lethal. Likewise, just in the way other deadly substances such as drugs are dealt with so should such weapons to reduce homicides as well as mass shootings. It may involve more strict laws on gun possession and those making (Compston 2009, p44).
Background checks are a legitimate attempt to curb this problem, however; it is easy for a criminal to obtain a gun by not necessarily buying the weapon from a registered gun store. Therefore, for law enforcement agencies to successfully prosecute a citizen for an illegal sale, they may have to prove that the person involved had prior knowledge of the crime to be committed. For this reason, family members, friends, private firms that sell firearms have perpetrators of gun violence have mainly not been prosecuted (Making Policy n.d.).
. To curb such cases, Charles Schumer's bill would require record-keeping by gun dealers and enforcers in efforts to trace crime guns. A United States police officer appears to kill more people than those in other developed countries. It is because of availability of guns and the increased gun violence brought with it is experienced against them as well. As a result, police officers anticipate more threat and deadly use of force ensures. Violent crime is therefore seen in both ways as some police officers have been indicted for racial segregation against the black community. While evaluating a policy, it is imperative to consider the thin line between legitimate police killings and gun violence.
The United States Supreme Court ruled that it is more likely to allow regulation than prohibit it. It shows that while the second amendment might take time to be revised, it is imperative to introduce programs that enable detection of crime. The shootings have reawakened the debate on the role of policy in reducing the vice. Gun control should be about judging the role of the government in ensuring enforcement of existing regulation effectively. Gun-related mass shootings have many causes, from religious extremism to psychological issues. Moreover, mass shootings are seen to be the worst case scenarios of gun violence. However, public opinion about gun ownership has not changed according to a survey by Pew Research Center. America's support for fire weapons ownership has increased over the last decade so as the mass shootings.
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