In the United States, there have been 294 mass shootings in the year 2015 as of October according to data from the BBC. The shootings are defined as incidents when four or more people are killed or injured by a firearm. For 2015, the statistics indicate the occurrence of more than one shooting per day so far. In the same duration, 45 of the shootings have taken place in schools (CNN). There have been 142 school shootings between October 2015 and the massacre at Sandy Hook elementary on 14 December 2012. Despite the figures on school shootings representing incidences when a gun was fired but no one was hurt, the statistics still represent a significant number worth attention. The high number of gun violence statistics is an indication of a problem in the midst of the public sphere. The incidences pose the question, Are there too many guns in the hands of the public? From the data on gun violence incidents, it is evident that many lives are lost and people injured by gun violence. This paper will primarily explain why the increased incidences of gun violence are an indication of the presence of too many firearms in the public's possession.
Gun control is a term that has different implication s throughout America. Gun control is a broad term and is used to refer to any kind of restriction on the type of firearms that can be purchased or sold (Gunter). Additionally, the term gun control also covers the individuals who can acquire firearms or sell them, the places they can be stored or carried, the duties a seller has to carry out vetting on a buyer, and the responsibilities both the buyer and the seller bear to reveal such transactions to the government. At times, the term is used to refer to matters that are connected to guns such as ammunition and magazines, or technology related to firearms, for instance the type that allows guns to fire only when held by their owners.
Gun incidents have stimulated a lot of debate in the recent years. The debates on gun control have been focused mainly on background checks for buyers, permitting individuals to have weapons in their possession in public, and whether to allow the possession of assault rifles. United States federal law bars certain people from being in possession of firearms. Those with certain kinds of criminal records or mental illness; drug addicts; immigrants without legal status; veterans who left the military with a dishonorable discharge; anyone with a permanent restraining order keeping them from a partner or a partners children are not allowed to be in possession of firearms (Ehrenfreund and Goldfarb). These people are among those prohibited by the law from being in possession of firearms.
In Saudi Arabia for comparison, extremists mainly perpetrate gun violence. The incidents of gun violence in Saudi Arabia are lower than in the United States (Nation Master). For a Saudi Arabian student in the United States, the prevalence of gun incidents is a detrimental factor to their perception of safety in the learning institution. The statistics on gun incidents in schools or the vicinity of schools has an adverse effect on social interaction and wellbeing due to possible fear of such occurrences.
According to the Pew Research Center, there are an estimated 270 million to 310 million guns in the United States (2015). However, only a small percentage of Americans actually own guns. The estimated number of guns is close to the number of people in the United States therefore averaging a gun per person in the country. The high number of weapons in the public domain makes the owners of guns a possible threat to those who do not have guns. Not all of the guns counted in the estimated count are legally held (DeSilver). In addition, the count does not factor in unannounced weapons. These weapons are in the hands of the public but not legally accounted for. Subsequently, they can be used for crime but not traced back to the owners.
In a survey by the Geneva based Small Arms Survey on global small arms, it was established that the United States has currently more guns than people (Ingraham). With this data, the number of gun related incidences is not expected to be low. Accompanied with other incentives for crime such as gang violence, firearms in the hands of mentally ill people, and general unruliness, the high number of firearms in the possession of civilians does not brood well for national security. There are simply too many guns in the possession of a section of the population. Gun control laws do not sufficiently restrict the use of these firearms. Those in possession of firearms are directly responsible for any damages that the firearms in their possession cause. With gun culture being popular, it is getting easier for owners of firearms to wield them in a manner that is dangerous to the safety of others.
The interview was carried out with a senior member of the police force who asked to remain anonymous for the interview. For the purpose of this interview, he will be referred to by a pseudonym, Mike. Mike has worked on the police force for fifteen years. Five of those years he spent as a patrol officer and then moved to a detective in the major crimes unit. According to Mike, working as a police officer will expose you to things a human being should not see. I have to observe the aftermath of gruesome crimes, listen to tales of survivors and live with memories of the bodies of victims, or whatever is left of them.
In relation to guns in the public domain, Mike asserts that the debate on guns has gone too far with action being taken not helping in any way. There are too many guns out there. Recently, law enforcement officers became the targets of gun violence. Think of it, when those tasked with protecting people from the bad guys get on the wrong end of the gun, it is scary for other civilians. In my opinion, they should turn in all the firearms and equip the law enforcement agencies to capably handle any risks to civilians. If a burglar breaks into your home in the middle of the night, having a firearm empowers you to defend yourself to an extent. However, it also endangers you since the burglar may have a firearm too or resort to use of excessive force to get their aims. In the same scenario where a burglar is in ones property or a threat to their safety of any kind, a well-equipped and responsive police department can handle emergencies better than putting firepower in the hands of civilians. I think taking away all these guns will reduce the unnecessary deaths and injury to gun incidents. What we need is protection from the threats within us by capable and more present law enforcement agencies. Whether it is a spouse or parent that is the cause of trouble or an external threat, guns in the hands of civilians increases unnecessary risks.
Based on the interview, it is evident that there are too many guns in the hands of the population. The guns in the public domain pose a threat to the owners and to other people due to the possibility of misuse. What is needed is a total ban on guns and an increase in the capability of law enforcement in dealing with crimes. The firearms that cause damage are in the hands of not only the perceived bad people but also good people. Laws that restrict gun sale, purchase and use have failed in controlling the wanton destruction caused by firearms in civilians possession.
CNN. "One Day of Gun Violence." Breaking News, U.S., World, Weather, Entertainment & Video News - CNN.com. CNN, 2015. Web. 11 Nov. 2015. <http://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2014/12/us/cnn-guns-project/24-hours.html>.
DeSilver, Drew. "A Minority of Americans Own Guns, but Just How Many is Unclear."Pew Research Center. Pew Research Center, 2015. Web. 11 Nov. 2015. <http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/06/04/a-minority-of-americans-own-guns-but-just-how-many-is-unclear/>.
Ehrenfreund, Max, and ZACHARY Goldfarb. "11 Essential Facts About Guns and Mass Shootings in the United States - The Washington Post." Washington Post. Washington Post, 18 June 2015. Web. 11 Nov. 2015. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/06/18/11-essential-facts-about-guns-and-mass-shootings-in-the-united-states/>.
Gunter, Joel. "Oregon Shooting: Statistics Behind 'routine' US Gun Violence." BBC News. BBC, 2 Oct. 2015. Web. 11 Nov. 2015. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-34424385>.
Ingraham, Christopher. "There Are Now More Guns Than People in the United States - The Washington Post." Washington Post. Washington Post, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2015. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/10/05/guns-in-the-united-states-one-for-every-man-woman-and-child-and-then-some/>.
Nation Master. "Saudi Arabia Vs United States Crime Stats Compared." International Statistics: Compare Countries on Just About Anything! NationMaster.com. Nation Master, 2015. Web. 11 Nov. 2015. <http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/compare/Saudi-Arabia/United-States/Crime>.
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