The ownership of firearms remains one of the most controversial issues in the United States. Often, instances of high-profile mass shootings generate major debates about the rights of Americans to wield weapons, with gun control supporters attaching special importance to public safety. Their pro-gun counterparts, contrariwise, usually advocate self-defense. They also claim that firearm control rarely reduces crime or violence. Both sides have convincing arguments. Nevertheless, does owning a firearm enhance people’s safety? I believe not. The United States, therefore, must enforce severer weapons control laws to decrease the regularity of gun violence and deaths.
Evidence suggests that more gun deaths and injuries occur across the United States when more Americans wield or are exposed to firearms. In this regard, a study by Phillip B. Levine and Robin McKnight, economics professors at Wellesley College, illustrates the way the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, increased the demand for weapons in the United States, which heightened the frequencies of gun fatalities in the country (1). Specifically, the authors note that the Sandy Hook incident, which witnessed the demise of 6 adults and 20 children, prompted more Americans to purchase firearms for “self-defense” (1).
Consequently, more people lost their lives following the Sandy Hook shootings: over 60 Americans, including 20 young ones, died from gun-related aggression. Such developments demonstrate that defensive uses of firearms against killers and criminals seldom dissuade gun-related fatalities. The proliferation of weapons only increases the number of gun deaths, which emphasizes the need for harsher firearms control laws.
Pro-gun advocates may argue, and rightly so, that compelling evidence demonstrates that having concealed weapons deters criminals. As John Richard Lott Jr. and David B. Mustard, two renowned American economists note, convicted criminals in the United States are more concerned about armed victims than police officers (Lott, Jr. and Mustard 3). The authors cite a survey that shows that most American felons avoid late-night burglaries since “that [is] the way to get shot” (Lott, Jr. and Mustard 3). Similar dynamics are evident in the context of concealed handguns. Since the bearers of these weapons conceal them, they increase the cost of committing misconduct. Criminals cannot openly determine whether a victim is armed; hence, they may hesitate to attack for safety reasons. Thus, as pro-gun advocacy factions would maintain, firearms deter gun-related violence and deaths.
One cannot ignore the truth of the above refutation; however, pro-gun advocates must consider the broader implications of gun ownership. In their seminal text, Phillip J. Cook, a professor of public policy, and Harold A. Pollack, a University of Chicago professor and co-director of the institution’s crime lab, write that “[g]un availability does not ‘cause’ violence but does intensify it in the sense that when a gun rather than a knife is used in a violent encounter, the result is to greatly increase the chance that the victim will die rather than receive a nonfatal injury” (Cook and Pollack 4). In this regard, more recent, in-depth investigations have established that permissive firearm laws increase gun-related fatalities. For instance, in 2019, Paul M. Reeping, a doctoral student at Harvard majoring in infectious disease epidemiology, joined five epidemiology scholars and established that a 10% increase in the leniency of state gun laws increased mass shootings by 9% (Reeping et al. 4). One cannot, therefore, separate guns from violence. Access to sophisticated, powerful weapons in the United States only increases the chances of an American meeting his or her demise. In other words, gun-friendly laws would not deter gun violence.
At this point, we all understand that restrictive gun regulations are indispensable to restraining gun-related injuries and fatalities. The proliferation of firearms in the United States compromises the safety of American civilians. Permissive gun laws only worsen the situation. Hence, strict gun legislation would be preferable. Perhaps this move would not prevent all firearm-related deaths; however, it would significantly reduce the regularity of such incidences as mass shootings, homicides, and suicides.
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Works Cited Cook, Phillip J., and Harold A. Pollack. “Reducing Access to Guns by Violent Offenders.” RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, vol. 3 no. 5, 2017, pp. 2-36. Levine, Phillip B., and Robin McKnight. “Firearms and Accidental Deaths: Evidence from the Aftermath of the Sandy Hook School Shooting.” Science, vol. 358, no. 6368, 2017, pp. 1324-1328. Lott, Jr., John R, and David B. Mustard. “Crime, Deterrence, and Right‐to‐Carry Concealed Handguns.” The Journal of Legal Studies, vol. 26, no. 1, 1997, pp. 1-68, www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/467988?seq=4#metadata_info_tab_contents. Accessed 29 Oct. 2019. Reeping, Paul M., et al. “State Gun Laws, Gun Ownership, and Mass Shootings in the US: Cross Sectional Time Series.” British Medical Journal, vol. 364, no. 1542, 2019, pp. 1-6, www.bmj.com/content/bmj/364/bmj.l542.full.pdf. Accessed 29 Oct. 2019.