What Needs to Be Done About Gun Violence?

Introduction

Gun violence is one of the most controversial and hotly-debated issues in the United States of America because it results in the deaths and injuries of tens of thousands of people annually. On the other hand, the issue is controversial and complex because of the uncertainty as to whether the federal government or the state governments should regulate gun control. In this paper, I will show that neither level of government has exclusive authority with regard to gun control.

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Rather, an effective gun control approach should involve a federal-state approach. It is important for the federal government to apply uniform regulations in certain situations and for the states to implement their regulations to enhance the efforts of the federal government. This involvement is evident from the actions of 50 states that enacted gun control laws after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Atlanta.

Background and Problem Statement

The United States has struggled with the challenge of gun control for over a century. There have been extensive and heated debates regarding the issue. However, a consensus on how to best regulate firearms has remained elusive. The modern concept of gun control began with the enactment of the Sullivan Law in 1911 (Cook & Goss, 2014). Since then, the debate for the mitigation of gun violence has shifted between the federal and state governments. Government statistics on deaths and injuries that result from illegal gun use are proof that there is a need for stricter gun control regulations from both the federal government and the states.

The government approximates that there are about 276 homicides in America every week, 96 killings a day, and an average of 1,200 gun-related incidents weekly (Gabor, 2016). The issue is perceived differently across the US because of the influence of politics and geography. Cases of suicides, homicides, physical violence and mass shootings are not evenly distributed (“Repeal of Missouri’s background check law”, 2014).

The implementation of gun control regulations by the federal government raises questions as to who between the federal government and the states is supposed to do the regulating. Effective mitigation of gun violence should involve the concerted efforts of both the federal and state governments in passing legislation to expand background checks for potential gun buyers (Gabor, 2016). In addition, it warrants dedicated funding as well as federal and state support, in the same way, public health crises are handled because gun violence is gradually becoming an epidemic in America.

Literature Review

Virginia Tech, Las Vegas, Columbine, and Sandy Hook are examples of recent mass shootings that have intensified or revived the gun control debate. The problem has been studied widely by researchers in various fields. A study published in the American Journal of Medicine revealed that Americans are 25 times more likely to experience gun-related homicide than people in other developed countries (Cook & Goss, 2014).

The right to own a gun is enshrined in the 4th amendment of the United States constitution. Therefore, gun control regulations must be implemented within the confines of the constitution. Researchers from Northeastern and Harvard universities have revealed that gun control is a difficult problem to address because there are approximately 265 million guns in America. In that regard, they recommend a change in the perception of the issue.

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Gun violence should be viewed as a public health crisis and not a political issue. According to Cook and Goss (2014), lawmakers should pass more stringent laws that make owning a gun a rigorous requirement that involves thorough background checks. The problem has escalated because a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that gun deaths have increased since 2009. According to Gabor (2016), policies that require buyers to obtain a license and undergo basic training before purchasing guns should be implemented. Only seven states require potential gun owners to obtain licenses.

A study published in the Journal of Urban Health found that a 2007 decision by the state of Missouri to repeal its law that required gun owners to obtain permits resulted in a 25% increase in gun-related homicide cases (Gabor, 2016). It was also established that states with strong firearms laws report fewer cases of gun violence. For instance, states with mandatory background checks and restrictions on multiple purchases are associated with lower numbers of gun homicides. Right-to-carry laws have also contributed to increased crime. For example, a decade after the adoption of the laws, violent crime has increased by about 15% (Spitzer, 2015).

Current Actions Taken by Governments to Address Gun Violence

Currently, gun violence is being addressed by concerted efforts of the federal, state, and local governments. The federal government enforces several laws that regulate firearms. These include the National Firearms Act, the Federal Firearms Act, the Gun Control Act, the Firearms Owner’s Protection Act, the Brady Act, and the Public Safety, the Undetectable Firearms Act, the Gun-free School Zones Act, and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act among others (Cook & Goss, 2014).

These laws have been in operation for a long time. Federal regulations such as background checks for prospective purchasers and the maintenance of firearms sale by sellers are effective in controlling gun violence. However, some actions by certain states weaken their effectiveness. For example, the state of Missouri repealed its PTP law, and as a result, firearm, homicide rates increased by 25% (“Repeal of Missouri’s background check law”, 2014).

It is important for states to work together with the federal government in the enforcement of gun control laws. State governments have also enacted policies to augment the federal government’s laws. For example, the state of New York was the first to enact gun control legislation. In 1911, the Sullivan Law was passed into law, and it required individuals to obtain a permit from the police in order to own a handgun (Spitzer, 2015). Since then, state governments have struggled with the challenge of enhancing public safety while refraining from violating the rights of gun owners. 44 states have statutes in their constitutions that are similar to the Second Amendment even though less restrictive.

The February 14, 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, compelled several states and cities have enacted laws to control gun violence. The majority have raised the age limit of gun owners, illegalized bump stocks, and banned the possession of firearms by perpetrators of domestic abuse (Park, 2018). The state of Connecticut banned bump stocks and firearm enhancements while the city of Deerfield in Illinois banned assault weapons and penalized residents who did not surrender their weapons that were covered by the ban (Park, 2018).

In Florida, Governor Rick Scott signed a bill that raised the minimum age of gun possession to 21, banned bump fire stocks, and raised the waiting period for firearm purchases to three days (Park, 2018). The city of Lincoln in Nebraska banned bump stocks.

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The state of New Jersey passed several gun laws that cemented its second position as a state with stringent gun control laws after California (Park, 2018). In New York, convicts of domestic violence are required to turn in all their firearms, including pistols and handguns (Park, 2018). The gun control laws were amended after the Sandy Hook killings. Other states that have strengthened their gun control laws include Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Conclusion and Recommendations

The issue of gun violence is gradually becoming a public health crisis because the number of deaths and injuries related to the use of firearms is increasing steadily. The federal, state and local governments have enacted several laws and policies to mitigate gun violence. However, the problem is intensifying, hence the need for more stringent legislation. The federal government should work together with state and local governments to mitigate the problem.

Assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines should be banned, thorough background checks for all gun sales should be conducted, all domestic abusers should be disarmed, and extreme risk protection orders should be available in all states in order to address the issue effectively. States should also expand their legislation to make background checks thorough. In addition, the CDC should be able to research gun violence as a public health issue and the federal and state government should fund local violence prevention and intervention programs.

Moreover, the states should enforce federal gun control regulations. The liberal approach of viewing gun violence as a political issue is ineffective. Therefore, the federal government should embrace a public health approach to the problem because it is escalating and endangering the lives of many Americans.

References

Cook, P. J., & Goss, K. A. (2014). The gun debate: What everyone needs to know. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Repeal of Missouri’s background check law associated with increase in state’s murders. (2014). Web.

Gabor, T. (2016). Confronting gun violence in America. New York, NY: Springer.

Park, M. (2018). New Jersey is one of the latest states to enact new gun control measures. CNN International. Web.

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Spitzer, R. J. (2015). Politics of gun control (6th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, June 19). What Needs to Be Done About Gun Violence? Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/what-needs-to-be-done-about-gun-violence/

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"What Needs to Be Done About Gun Violence?" StudyCorgi, 19 June 2021, studycorgi.com/what-needs-to-be-done-about-gun-violence/.

1. StudyCorgi. "What Needs to Be Done About Gun Violence?" June 19, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/what-needs-to-be-done-about-gun-violence/.


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StudyCorgi. "What Needs to Be Done About Gun Violence?" June 19, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/what-needs-to-be-done-about-gun-violence/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "What Needs to Be Done About Gun Violence?" June 19, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/what-needs-to-be-done-about-gun-violence/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'What Needs to Be Done About Gun Violence'. 19 June.

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