As we continue to be desensitized by another mass shooting, I found myself having discussions with people I love about why they believe they should have the right to own a gun. In doing so arguments that I often think about, but roll my eyes to came up. Looking to fully understand how anyone could still think that guns should be not just accessible, but in existence, I challenged myself to think critically about the arguments that politicians, pro-gun lobbyist, and countless Americans employ.
This is what I found:
The Economy Argument
As the world’s largest dealer of fire arms it makes sense that the United States has the most firearms per capita. Right now there are more than 300 million firearms in the US, and that represents just the ones reported.
There seems to be this argument that if we ban guns, we will be taking away people’s jobs, a money making venture for the US, and a general wealth.
As it sits right now, the wealth of the US is dominated by 1% of extremely wealthy individuals, and the lack of distribution to the lower classes, a large group of people who adamantly fight for their right to bear arms, don’t see this or any social benefits that come with being a “super power.” What is the point of being a “super power” and a wealthy country if all of our citizens don’t have healthcare, clean water, and shelter?
Secondly, it is time that our citizens started learning new skills, or translated their skill set into something that doesn’t create a deadly weapon because that is what firearms are, deadly weapons. Yes, many people will have to step out of their comfort zone to learn a new skill, talk to new coworkers, or be a part of the liberals that want to help all classes have the basic human rights. However, when we step out of our comfort zone we find that our lives change for the better, and many other opportunities present themselves.
Additionally, if we no longer produce firearms than our country will no longer be providing firearms to other countries, terrorist groups, or any other consumer of these deadly weapons.
What the economy argument truly boils down to are larger problems that surround greed and power by the 1% of America’s elite. The NRA funds government officials to vote in their favor, so that these few individuals don’t have to face the country’s growing problems, which is that we will become very irrelevant globally if we stop producing firearms.
To really drive this idea home, it’s important to note that with less guns we’d have less gun related injuries, which would mean our medical field in the US would also have to have a discussion based on preventive medicine rather then medicine that deals with a problem once it’s proliferated.
It’s time we started investing in other ventures and looking to the future, which is going to come with or without us.
The “It’s My Right” Argument
There's a huge argument regarding the 2nd Amendment and the right of Americans to bear arms. I understand that this is an amendment built into the United States Constitution, but when over 1.56 million people are homeless, 1 in 8 households are food insecure, and majority of Americans don’t have access to medical care something is fundamentally wrong.
Furthermore, this amendment was written into the constitution in 1791. The type of firearms that are employed today didn’t exist and I highly doubt could have even been imagined by our founding fathers.
If guns were banned from the US than this idea of a right, which is greatly skewed, would no longer be necessary because we’d all have no need for guns.
The Hunting Argument
Another common argument that pro-gun citizens like to use is the fact that many families get their source of food from hunting, and if we were to ban guns many people wouldn’t have the same access to meat.
While guns do provide an easy way to kill a harmless animal, there are other ways to do so. A bow and arrow was how people originally hunted their meat, and if we are going to continue to allow this argument to be employed than we need to discuss that fact that we’ve evolved as people that don’t need to hunt. Guns have evolved and not for this reason. We are no longer hunter-gatherers, we’ve become a culture of settlers.
There is no sport to hunting when you can shoot an animal from an extreme distance and use a firearm that shoots off multiple rounds in the matter of seconds.
Furthermore, the FDA has even stated that majority of our diets should be plant-based with meat acting as a side, if at all. We no longer need the amount of meat that our ancestors needed, and if people want to live like them then they should have to hunt like them.
As a side note, meat is remarkably inexpensive to buy in the US because of factory farming, which is a whole other argument, but one that is important to touch on because this industry is closely linked to the NRA, the American Heart Association, and the same elected officials who vote against the majority of US citizens.
The Protection Argument
One of the biggest arguments surrounding the right to bear arms is the idea of protection.
I’d like to ask those of you who are reading this that support this argument, who exactly are you protecting yourself from?
Terrorists, gang members, the crazy man down the street?
Well, if we were to ban guns, or at least look where and who we are selling them to, none of these people would be able to get firearms. We directly or indirectly supply firearms to all those who we are taught to fear. Yes, even terrorists abroad have acquired many firearms through our poor systems and laws.
We are literally in the middle of an argument to legalize silencers for the average American to own and use. What would the average American need a silencer for?
There’s a huge myth that the NRA likes to spread, which is that owning a gun will protect you. The truth of the matter is, it is far more likely to harm you or a loved one.
Using data from 1981–2010 and the best firearm ownership proxy to date, the most recent study examining the relationship between firearms and homicide rates on a state level found that for every 1 percent increase in gun ownership, there was a 1.1 percent increase in the firearm homicide rate and a 0.7 percent increase in the total homicide rate.
Studies have been done looking at countries that allow guns with ease, and those that don’t have guns at all, and those that have banned firearms have found what one would expect, a significantly lower number of deaths by firearms.
Going one step further, suicide rates drop dramatically when firearms are not allowed to be owned. It literally is the easiest way to kill oneself, and unfortunately what majority of suicide victims employ for this heartbreaking occurrence.
When there are 1.69 million American children living in homes with loaded and unlocked firearms, and 73% of children aged nine and under report knowing the location of their parents’ firearm, can we be surprised that 89% of accidental shooting deaths among children occur in the home?
Finally, when we look at other countries that don’t use firearms within their police forces, we see that there are less firearm related deaths. Countries like Australia, Denmark, Austria, Norway, Germany, France, Iceland, and Sweden train their law enforcement to be in good physical condition, think critically, and handle situations without the use of firearms. Why? Because if you don’t have a gun, you can’t act rash and just shoot someone, which unfortunately happens way too often in the US.
By properly training and vetting our law enforcement officers, and requiring them to be in top physical condition the need for guns is simply unnecessary.
To add to these sentiments, it’s incredibly important to look at a few statistics:
- Since the American Revolution 1,396,733 Americans have died in wars.
- Since 1968 1,516,863 Americans have died by firearm-related deaths (not wars).
- In 2017 at least 59 people were killed and over 500 more have been hurt in some way in the Las Vegas shooting.
- In 2016 49 people were killed and 58 were wounded in the Orlando shooting.
- In 2012 20 six and seven year olds were shot and killed in Sandy Hook.
- In 1999 13 people were killed in Columbine.
- American has 4.4% of the world’s population, but almost half of the civilian-owned guns around the world.
- America has 6 times as many firearm homicides as Canada, and nearly 16 time as many as Germany.
- There have been 1,500 mass shootings since Sandy Hook.
- On average, there is more than one mass shooting for each day in America.
- States with more guns have more gun deaths.
- Other developed countries with more guns also have more gun deaths.
- The states with the most guns report the most suicides.
- Since the shooting of Michael Brown, police have killed at least 2,900 people in the US.
- In states with more guns, more police officers are also killed on duty.
What all major mass shootings have in common is that they’ve been executed by men, and more often than not, white-Christian-middle-class men. It’s important to note this because it highlights the ways in which we are avoiding issues beyond gun control, mental health being at the top of that list.
Ultimately, this is a conversation that is too far gone, but one that isn’t dead for lack of a better word, and we need to create change. The right to bear arms shouldn’t be a basic human right when actual things to survive like healthcare, clean food and water, and shelter are denied to so many. We are literally giving access to creating more death than we are to sustaining life. When a school full of children looking to learn, a church full of people looking to spread light, and a festival where people are looking to listen to music are shot up, we need to stop claiming that the wars we are fighting are outside our borders because they are in fact right here at home.
In closing, I have to ask, What will it take for all of us to agree that money and power do not champion human life?
What other arguments do you constantly hear?