In response to the Orlando shooting, many have called for stricter gun control laws. This almost always occurs after any mass shooting and portrays a lack of understanding about both the current situation in the United States and that of the Constitution.
Gun control advocates frequently cite the number of people that die each year in the United States due to guns, which is approximately 32,500 people. They often fail to mention that once you remove gang violence, suicide, and accidental death that that number drops nearly 75% to around 7,500 deaths per year.
Advocates also fail to mention the benefit that guns can have when used for self defense. According to the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, guns are used by civilians roughly 990,000 times per year to defend themselves against crimes. In addition, the overall number of guns used in crimes amounts to less than 1% of the total number of guns in the US. This means that the average citizen will likely never use their firearm in a crime.
This brings up the question of why should Congress pass new laws that do nothing but restrict the rights of law abiding citizens.
Aside from the numbers there is also the issue of the Constitution, which is very specific on the issue of firearms. It states: “...The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." The Second Amendment is there so that citizens have the ability to defend themselves both from criminals and tyrannical governments, something that was all too real for the creators of that Amendment.
While not all gun control advocates wish to do away with the Amendment, there are some that have taken more extreme viewpoints and suggested policies like that of Great Britain or Australia. The policies of those countries is to confiscate the weapons of its citizens, something that the British did prior to the American Revolution, and was the cause for the Second Amendment.
There is also some misinformation about the types of firearms used in mass shootings or other crimes. People sometimes claim that the criminals that commit these horrible acts use automatic weapons. This is entirely false as automatic weapons have been illegal in the U.S. since 1986 for civilians.
More often though people say that the firearms in question were assault weapons. This term is used inspire fear to try and attract those that are undecided on the issue toward the side of gun control. However, assault weapons are not functionally different from other firearms but instead are deemed assault weapons solely because of their appearance and resemblance to machine guns. In fact, assault weapons are used in only about 300 of the 7,500 gun related deaths per year. Because of this, banning them would have little effect on the problem and would be an arbitrary denial of a citizen’s right to own a firearm.
While the number of gun related deaths in the U.S. is still high, the solution to this problem is not to take away or to further limit the access to firearms for law abiding citizens.
A solution that would not require the passage of any new laws would be to actually enforce the current laws. Under current federal law you are prohibited from purchasing or owning a firearm if you have been convicted of a felony or have a mental illness that makes you a danger to yourself or to society.
Currently not all people that are within the restricted groups are put into the system, called NICS, that determines if you are eligible to buy a firearm. This is due to states and federal institutions not accurately notifying NICS if a person becomes part of the restricted group. Because of this, people that wouldn’t normally be allowed to buy firearms are sometimes able to.
Simple fixes such as this would help alleviate the problem without further infringing on law abiding citizens rights to own firearms.