Reducing Gun Violence in America: Through Effective Gun Control
Since the terrible events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012, America has been divided on what actions need to be taken to prevent another mass shooting. Anti-gun lobbyists and their followers call for firearm bans and universal background checks while pro-gun lobbyists and their followers insist any action would go against their 2nd Amendment rights and therefore be unconstitutional. Although both sides of the gun control debate recognize that there is a problem with mass shootings, neither side recognizes the other aspect of gun violence. Everyday somewhere in America there is a singular homicide committed with a firearm that goes unnoticed in regards to the gun control debate. Both sides of the debate need to come together in order to correct not only the problem with mass shootings but the problem of gun violence in its entirety. In order to reduce gun violence in America, a two-tiered approach to gun control needs to be put in place. Strict mandatory sentencing for gun related offenses and a firearm licensing program that would overhaul the current background check system are needed for effective gun control that will truly reduce gun violence.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation provides statistical data collected through the Uniform Crime Report for various types of crimes. In 2011, there were 12,664 murder victims throughout the country, 6,220 or 49.1% of these victims were murdered with the use of a handgun, 323 or 2.5% of these victims were murdered with the use of a rifle, and 356 or 2.8% of these victims were murdered with the use of a shotgun. The data does not specifically name the type of rifle used, whether it was an “assault rifle” or hunting rifle. Even if all 323 victims were murdered with an assault rifle, it is still more likely to be murdered with a knife (1,694 victims or 13.3%) or by personal means (hands, fists, feet, etc. (726 victims or 5.7%)) (Criminal Justice Information Services Division, (n.d.a)). Does this mean that the federal government should ban hands and feet because they could be used to murder someone? That is absurd, as is banning ownership of any firearm for any citizen simply due to the actions of a few, yet that is one of the proposals.
The main proposal by anti-gun lobbyists is to reinstate the Assault Weapons Ban enacted in 1994. This law banned certain assault weapons and large capacity magazines. However, studies have shown little statistical data to prove the effectiveness of that ban. Although gun violence did reduce from the last full year prior to the ban and the first full year the ban was in place, studies “suggest other factors played a role in the observed reduction of gun homicides” (Koper & Roth, 2002). Another study performed by the University of Pennsylvania stated, “We cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence. And, indeed, there has been no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence” (Plumer, 2012). These studies show the Assault Weapons Ban did not work in the past; therefore it would be foolish to think an assault weapons ban will reduce gun violence in the future. An assault weapons ban will only give the general public peace of mind and a false sense of security. People pushing for this ban often ask why someone needs as assault weapon.
Law abiding citizens use assault rifles for target practice, personal protection, hunting, and competition shooting. These weapons are used for personal defense for the same reasons the military and law enforcement use them. Dan Zimmerman looked at a manual provided by the Massachusetts Municipal Police Training Committee’s Basic Firearms Instructor Course and found that the AR-15 is used at that department for a few