BY NAIEKA RAJ ’19
Gun violence tragedies have claimed the lives of thousands of innocent civilians over the years, deaths that could have been easily prevented with some basic legislation. According to the Brady Campaign, around 17,012 American children and teens are shot in murders, assaults, suicides, unintentional shootings or by police intervention every year. Every new tragedy stirs the pot but soon we move past the issue and continue with our daily lives, isolating the subject until another, seemingly inevitable, attack takes place. The Gun Violence Archive updates its records on daily mass shootings, projecting the bleak social condition of this country.
While the arguments against gun control seem to revolve around state policy, certain ideological principles are often brought up inappropriately. Advocates against background checks might argue for individual’s rights to privacy, but this same libertarian principle fails to hold people accountable for their actions after violence has occurred. Others advocate for individual freedom when acquiring lethal firearms, but when other law-abiding citizens are killed in the process, their freedoms don’t matter. If every ideological argument against gun control proves murky, if not baseless, then why have we not passed any substantial legislation? One problem lies in the United States Constitution itself.
The possession of lethal weapons is guaranteed by the Second Amendment right to bear arms. This law was passed in 1791, an entirely different social context. The country had just won an armed rebellion and AK-47s did not exist. Back then, guns were also used to suppress slave rebellions and fight Native Americans. While the Founding Fathers had racist intentions with the right to bare arms, the way we interpret the law and its meaning now has changed. In this way, the legal text proves just as baseless in supporting the anti-gun control argument as the previously mentioned argument.
According to the Main Policy Review by William S. Harwood, there is no clear mandate for state versus federal regulation of firearms, so each state is left to experiment with laws that best fit their covenant. If the problem is to reduce unwarranted deaths, then the answer is simple: increase regulation. Economist Richard Florida examined gun deaths and other social indicators including higher populations, more stress, more immigrants and more mental illness to determine their correlation. The results? There was absolutely no correlation these factors and use of firearms. Instead of using baseless accusations criticizing his research or hiding behind fake moral and political principles, it’s time we examine the matter from a different lens. Florida’s research did provide one correlation: States with tighter gun control laws have fewer gun-related deaths.
So the answer becomes obvious, instead of supporting a dangerous and barbaric policy by disguising it as a political or moral statement, it’s time we cut our losses and make the required changes.