5 Reasons Tougher Gun Laws Won’t Prevent Shootings
After the Newtown shooting in Connecticut, a lot of people are saying that stricter gun laws would prevent more shootings, but I say tougher gun laws won’t prevent shootings. It’s an easy Band-Aid to slap over the grief and anxiety that everyone is feeling. Unfortunately, it’s like wrapping a compound fracture with a layer of gauze (or a Band-Aid, if you found that metaphor particularly enthralling).
The Problem is Deeper Than “Too Many Guns”
Other countries, such as Norway, Finland and Switzerland, have loose gun laws and high rates of firearm ownership. Why, then, is the gun death rate only 3.5 in Switzerland, 1.78 in Norway, 3.64 in Finland and 9.20 in the United States? Because tougher gun laws won’t prevent shootings.
Sure, America has the highest gun ownership rate in the world — 89 per 100 citizens, as compared to Switzerland’s 45.7 per 100 citizens, Norway’s 31.3 per 100 citizens, and Finland’s 45.7 per 100 citizens.
Since all three countries have pretty relaxed gun laws yet differ drastically when it comes to gun crime and death, we can deduce that the problem is more than simply allowing people to own firearms.
Guns Don’t Have Personalities
Unless you live in America. In the US, guns are represented as evil killing machines. The news is a distorted, misery-thirsty promoter of all things negative and scary; guns are for criminals and this is what they do with them and why you should be afraid and not empowered or educated. Guns are for evil people and rednecks only; duh. In movies, guns are the criminal’s essential accessory. And even the good guys use them to hunt down and eliminate their enemies. Video games are no different. Anyone who loves GTA or Call of Duty has stood over the lifeless, pixelated corpse of an enemy, laughing at the comical way they twitch around as you continue riddling them with bullets from some giant automatic weapon. But it’s really not about video games or movies at all. It’s about our attitude towards these weapons — the way we view them — coupled with the way we see and use them in virtual spaces that makes a dangerous combination.
But in Switzerland, the citizens seem to be educated almost to a fault about their firearms. Except it’s not to a fault, because gun deaths there are pretty rare despite the fact that it’s common for kids as young as 12 to be present at the shooting range, which can be found all over the country. Festivals see rifle-touting citizens waltzing past police precincts with guns slung over their backs.
People in Switzerland are happy. They don’t participate in war, employ their citizens to kill children overseas via drone strikes, have better healthcare and a higher employment rate, are 25% less divided by class, and seem to be generally happier than those in the US. On average, they even live almost three years longer than Americans.
This is just a small piece of the picture. There’s no magic answer or mystical potion that can be quaffed to instantly microwave our culture into one that respects life and the rights of our fellow citizens. However, it is pretty clear that the issue with gun deaths in America (which have actually been steadily declining in the past few years) is a little more complicated than simply owning guns.
Killing for Sport
There doesn’t seem to be much of a middle ground when it comes to opinions on gun ownership in America. People either love their guns and will go so far as to blatantly lie by saying dumb shit like “guns don’t kill people; people kill people” (which is so vague and blanketed that it’s pretty much meaningless), or are opposed enough to compare America to a country like Japan, a country which only allows members of the military to own firearms (which is such an extreme contrast that it makes an unrealistic comparison) and sees less than 20 gun deaths a year. And that is unfortunate, because once we start arguing about “give me all the guns” versus “take away all the guns” we start to ignore smaller scale, but more important, legislation.
As a country, we love shooting people. We have a million excuses to kill other people. Drone strikes kill children every day… but they’re dirty Muslims, so who cares? We’ve been invading other countries for decades because they “needed an intervention” (see: we wanted something from them), but you’d be surprised to find many citizens uninvolved in these wars that care or understand their effects, let alone even know they exist.
Culture of Fear and Frustration
Mexicans be takin’ yer dang jarbs, robbers are trying to get into your house, unemployment is high, rapists are looking for your kids, gangs are hiding in your neighborhood, people are trying to push you into the subway, bombs are constantly being diffused on your block (phew – that was close), and the world is ending in three days via zombie apocalypse reptilian Muslim Obama Hellspawn takeover.
Desensitization to violence plus a culture that thrives on fear and frustration equals more violent crime.
The news also loves to talk about how most mass shooters obtain their weapons legally, so fear the man who owns a legal gun. Except, the Newtown shooter didn’t own the guns he used; his mother was just extremely stupid when it came to keeping them away from him.
And while Lanza’s mother owned her guns legally, most gun crimes are committed by those who don’t. New York illustrates this point well, since the state’s extremely strict gun laws have done little to prevent 8,793 illegal guns from being seized in 2011. And those were just the ones that were found.
It’s a Lot of Things
I’m not saying we shouldn’t have stricter gun laws. I don’t really have an opinion on that, nor do I have all the answers or solutions to the problem that is violent crime in America. However, I do believe that we should recognize that our issues are larger than just doing background checks or outlawing assault rifles. A background check on Lanza’s mother wouldn’t have reflected much about her troubled son, and he could have used any firearm in her cabinet to execute his terrible plan.
The way we deal with mental health problems, the way in which we fail to provide healthcare to those without enough dollar dollar bills, y’all, and the way that we educate our citizens about gun safety and violence all needs to be scrutinized and changed.Trending on the WebSpeak Your MindTell us what you're thinking... and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!