The term “Gun Control” can be heard in all demographics of American society. Teenagers use it in reference to school shootings. Protesters scream for it after a mass shooting. Neighbors beg for it in high crime neighborhoods. Social media is launched into a frenzy when it comes to #guncontrol, often leading to fierce and emotional debates fueled by uninformed but well-meaning advocates on both sides, and frequently ending in heated exchanges, lost friendships, and not one mind being changed one way or another.
I have tried to understand and sympathize with proponents of Gun Control, but every person I ask defines it differently and I was confused by what exactly “Gun Control” means to people, so I began my search online. According to WikiPedia: “Gun control (or firearms regulation) is the set of laws or policies that regulate the manufacture, sale, transfer, possession, modification, or use of firearms by civilians.”. This definition is summarized by Dictionary.com as: “Government regulation of the sale and ownership of firearms.”. So, given these two definitions, I am further confused by the demand nationally for more Gun Control. More? Currently, we have established gun laws in every state which could meet the criteria for “Gun Control”, although some states have stricter laws than others. California, for example, has some of the toughest Gun Laws in the country. We have an excessively long list of guns which are prohibited to be sold(legally) to the public in this state. A potential buyer undergoes an extensive background check(complete with fingerprints) by the Department of Justice, anyone charged with a violent felony, misdemeanor, restraining order, and the list goes on… is automatically ineligible to purchase a firearm(legally). We have restrictions on how many rounds of ammunition our magazines can hold and one cannot have a magazine that can hold more than 10 rounds(legally). We now have to register “AR-type” firearms as assault rifles(which, by the way, by definition they are not) in CA. I emphasized the word “legally” in the last few lines because I wanted to point out that all of these laws only apply to law-abiding citizens, which for the overwhelming majority of the time are not the people choosing to target innocent civilians.
On social media the conversation is constant. As one Twitter user said:
“Places I can’t go without the risk of being shot: school, the movies, the mall, church, restaurants, a club, the hospital, outside.”
The last of which I assume she was being facetious, but I applaud her sense of caution as it is a vital step in being alert and prepared. Additionally, I would like to point out that all of those places she listed are exactly the places where I believe more armed, trained, law-abiding citizens should be carrying a firearm. The bad guys know where there are no guns, why do you think they choose those locations to target?
This Twitter user wrote:
“304 mass shootings in 312 days this year.”
Not sure where he got those numbers, but if you do the math you will find that the states with the stricter gun laws have some of the highest crime rates, check out the statistics on the CDC, FBI Crime Stats, and the Bureau of Justice websites. When looking at “Firearm Related Deaths”, you need to consider that those also account for: accidental deaths, suicides, and gang related violence - all of which affect the numbers, so when the media talks about “gun violence” it is often portrayed inaccurately and can be deceptive and misleading. Could it be that, while Gun Control makes it harder and harder for law-abiding citizens to arm and protect themselves, it is still relatively easy for Jo Shmo to obtain a gun on the streets illegally? So good guys with more gun restrictions and bad guys with no gun restrictions… make sense?
Or, as this Instagramer posted:
“this is the closest thing to gun control america has had”
Which simply is not true. In the last two decades alone, laws have been passed at both state and federal levels to restrict firearm sales or tighten firearm purchase requirements.
Some of the Federal laws:
-The Brady Law (1998)
-The Omnibus Appropriations Act (1999)
-Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (2000)
-The Patriot Act (2001)
-H.R.2640 NICS Improvement Amendments Act (2007)
At the State level gun control legislation is passed more frequently, depending on the state. So, I will show some of the more controversial Gun Control laws passed in the last two decades just for California:
1998 - Anyone moving to CA must now register their guns
2000 - Second assault weapons laws were enacted which banned the sale of large magazines
2000 - Law enacted that limit the individual purchase of handguns to one every 30 days
2011 - Open carry of an unloaded handgun was banned
2013 - Open carry of an unloaded long gun was banned
2014 - All long guns must now be registered
2016 - Courts allowed to issue “gun violence restraining orders”
2017 - The State expanded it’s definition of “assault weapon” and added restrictions
2018 - A whole lot of laws regarding serial numbers, magazines, “assault rifles”, ammunition sales, etc…
This is by no means a complete list of gun laws enacted in the last twenty years, but it shows that our Country, along with the individual states, are working hard to enact tougher and more encompassing gun laws all the time. So, after researching this thing called “Gun Control”, it is my opinion that the call for a generalized and sweeping “gun control” is not going to fix anything, it is asking for something that has already been happening for decades, and even though the number of laws are getting higher and higher, somehow so do the number of mass shootings, homicides, and school shootings. Perhaps the solution to ending gun violence doesn’t lie with further restricting and punishing the law-abiding citizens(the good guys), but rather by focusing on mental illness awareness, gang violence in our communities, and firearm safety education.