The murders of eight people at three Atlanta-area spas last week have led to renewed calls for change from gun reform advocates, who are imploring lawmakers to take “comprehensive” action.
Their pleas now come as the nation is rocked by yet another deadly act of gun violence in Boulder, Colorado.
The deadly shootings reignited a long-standing debate about firearms in the United States. The U.S. has more guns—and gun deaths—than any other developed country.
As firearms have become more powerful and mass shootings fill the news, arguments over gun laws have grown more heated.
Some people say that we need stricter laws to limit the kinds of guns that are legal to ownand make it harder for criminals to get weapons. These kinds of restrictions are known asgun control.
Opponents of such measures say that most gun-control laws violate the “right to beararms” that the Framers laid out in the Second Amendment to the Constitution. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that this amendment protects a person’s right to keep a loadedfirearm for self-defense.
Congress hasn’t passed major gun-control legislation in two decades. President DonaldTrump has said he would oppose any new gun-control measures. He favors expandinggun owners’ rights.
Does the U.S. need tougher gun-control laws? Two experts weigh in.
We lose more than 36,000 Americans to gun violence every year in this country. That’s anaverage of 99 gun deaths a day. These tragedies range from accidents and suicides tohorrific mass shootings like the one at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, last June.
No other democracy in the world experiences this level of gun violence. That’s becauseother free nations have tough gun laws to deal with this problem.
It’s estimated that Americans own more than 300 million guns. Guns certainly do notcause crime, but the fact that they are so easily available does make crimes more deadly. Simply put, when more people have guns, the odds go up that those guns will be used.
We lose more than 36,000 Americansto gun violence every year.
We’re all tired of reading stories about shooters who passed background checks andlegally purchased firearms despite histories of violent behavior, severe mental illness, andsubstance abuse. And that’s when background checks are required. A new survey foundthat 22 percent of gun owners recently bought a firearm through a private sale. Suchsales do not require a background check and are legal in more than 30 states. That givesdangerous people a free pass to arm themselves.
We need tougher gun laws across the board, but a logical place to start is with theenactment of a federal law requiring background checks on all gun sales. Those checksshould also be strengthened to block all those with a history of violence.
The United States is known for accomplishing extraordinary things. Never let anyone tellyou that we can’t save the lives we’re losing to gun violence. We can, and we must.
Director, One Pulse for America (a gun violence prevention group)
On July 24, 2014, a doctor used his concealed handgun to disable a gunman who hadbegun firing in a hospital in Darby, Pennsylvania. One hospital worker had been killed. Police said that if the doctor had not been armed, many more innocent people would havedied.
As for the gunman, not only did he ignore the hospital’s “no weapons” policy, he had botha mental and a criminal record that disqualified him from possessing firearms underfederal law.
And that is precisely the problem: Gun control has consistently failed to keep bad guysfrom getting firearms. Gun-control advocates claim that we just need tougher laws. Butwith thousands of pages of failed gun laws already on the books, it’s highly unrealistic tothink that enacting more restrictions will work any better.
People are using guns to save a lifemore often than to take a life.
In 2003, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) examined dozens of gunand ammunition bans, waiting periods, and background checks. After analyzing all theserestrictions, the CDC concluded that the “evidence was insufficient to determine theeffectiveness of any of these [gun-control] laws.”
The CDC examined the issue again in 2013 and reported that there are between 500,000and
3 million annual cases of guns being used for self-defense. This means that people areusing guns to save a life 16 to 100 times more often than to take a life.
In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled on the “right to keep and bear arms,” which isprotected by the Second Amendment to the Constitution. The Court correctly noted thatthis right “belongs to all Americans.” We should reject additional restrictions on thisimportant right.
Executive Director, Gun Owners of America