ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Politics and Social Issues»
  • Social Issues

Why Do We Need Gun Control?

Updated on December 21, 2015
This map shows that gun owners concentrated in the South and Rural North- regions of the Nation where hunting is popular and often necessary.
This map shows that gun owners concentrated in the South and Rural North- regions of the Nation where hunting is popular and often necessary. | Source
After the shooting in San Bernardino, there were more searches for "gun control" than "gun shops"- a shift from previous months
After the shooting in San Bernardino, there were more searches for "gun control" than "gun shops"- a shift from previous months | Source

Despite the Critics, America is Asking for It

Ask the media or politicians, and they will inform you that America has an unfaltering love affair with guns. Suggest reform to gun laws, and you would be met with threats to, “Come and take it.” But, does the data support the claim that America is a pistol toting nation of gun enthusiasts unwilling to part with their grenade launchers and assault rifles?

The Pew Research Center’s most recent data on gun ownership states that approximately one in three Americans report that they or someone in their household owns a gun. Dissection of that data by an NBC report reveals that gun owners are primarily white men over the age of 55. However, per the United States Census Bureau, the average American is approximately 35 years old, more likely to be female than male and 75% white. Even more surprising than the fact that all of America is not constituted by older white men is that Pew data also reveals that a majority of Americans favor the control of gun distribution over the protection of the right to own guns.

However, it seems that the most vocal and influential group of individuals with regards to gun control is the demographic of older, white men. That's because the National Rifle Association is comprised of mostly white men and tends to be more politically engaged in crafting gun legislation than the general population. So, an all-encompassing issue is being influenced by a vocal minority of non-representative citizens. If the discourse was instead driven by the sentiments of the majority, gun legislation would likely pass.

Date
Right to Own Guns %
Control Gun Ownership %
12/1993
34
57
5/1999
30
65
6/1999
33
62
3/2000
29
66
4/2000
37
55
5/2000
38
57
6/2003
42
54
2/2004
37
58
4/2007
32
60
11/2007
42
55
4/2008
37
58
4/2009
45
49
3/2010
46
46
9/2010
46
50
1/2011
49
46
3/2011
48
47
10/2011
47
49
4/2012
49
45
7/2012
46
47
12/2012
42
49
1/2013
45
51
2/2013
46
50
5/2013
48
50
2/2014
49
48
12/2014
52
46
7/2015
47
50
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The most recent data show that that a slight majority of Americans favor gun control laws being implemented more than the retention of gun ownership rights.

Blaming Gun Violence on the Mentally Ill is a Red Herring

The Kim Foundation, an organization which compiles data on the occurrence of mental illness estimates that in any given year, one in four Americans suffer from a mental illness. Of those diagnosable individuals, however, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that only 41% were treated for their mental health conditions in 2014. So, surely there is a mental health crisis in the United States, and news outlets and political commentators alike often parrot the same diatribe against the mentally ill and their propensity for violence following mass shooting tragedies. Furthermore, it seems like a commonsense connection- mass murderers are obviously mentally ill. Many might even remember Ann Coulter declaring, “Guns don’t kill people- the mentally ill do.” As a result of that sentiment, The National Rifle Association and like-minded organizations offered as a solution the creation of a registry of individuals with mental illnesses and the cooperation between mental health providers and local authorities to track individuals who might pose a risk to the public because of their diagnosis.

Besides an obvious exploitation of mentally unwell individuals and statements that could be potentially categorized as scapegoating, there is a dissonance between this seeming commonsense connection and statistical reality. Doctors Johnathan Metzl and Kenneth MacLeish published an article in the Am J Public Health Journal in 2015 evaluating the correlation between mental illness and gun violence as well as the sociological presuppositions that affect the national dialogue surrounding gun crimes. The study found that 85% of shootings occur when an acquaintance targets an individual within his or her social network. Random shootings by individuals are, in fact, too rare to even afford adequate data for statistical modeling. Furthermore, just around 5% of crimes in the United States involve individuals with mental illness. Additionally, those most often accused of mental illness by media and social commentators are minorities when the data are viewed historically. For example, civil rights leaders and political activists were often branded by the FBI as psychotic and delusional. Metzl and MacLeish posit that categorization of shooters as mentally ill is an extension of the historical tendency to demonize disadvantaged groups and scapegoat the problems of gun violence away from the upper class white men whose affinity for guns would be challenged by gun legislation.

Australia is notorious for rugged terrain, adventurous people, venomous creatures but not mass shootings.
Australia is notorious for rugged terrain, adventurous people, venomous creatures but not mass shootings. | Source

There is a Model that Demonstrates Gun Control Effectiveness

In 1996, Australian headlines mirrored modern American headlines: “Mass Shooting at Café, 35 Dead, 23 Wounded”. The perpetrator used semi-automatic rifles which were readily available to any citizen. However, the reaction of the Australian government was not analogous to the American response. The tragedy was answered by a series of stringent gun laws. Aside from simply banning high-powered, semi-automatic firearms, the Australian government determined that gun buyers needed to justify the reason for buying a firearm in the first place. The defining feature of this feature of the legislation was that self-defense was not an acceptable reason for gun ownership. But, none of that matters if as gun control detractors insist nothing changed as a result of anti-gun legislation.

Australia has a 1 in 100,000 per capita “intentional homicide rate”. The rate of “intentional homicide” in the United States is quadruple that number. So, with a rate of 4 in 100,000 per capita intentional homicides, how many of those homicides were perpetrated using firearms? According to Pew, it was 3.6 per 100,000. It doesn’t take in-depth statistical analysis to understand that the data suggest that most of the homicides carried out in the United States were committed using guns. An article by the Washington Post (seen here: http://go.skimresources.com/?id=35871X943606&site=businessinsider.com&xs=1&isjs=1&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fnews%2Fwonkblog%2Fwp%2F2012%2F08%2F02%2Fdid-gun-control-work-in-australia%2F&xguid=&xuuid=facca5d75161ab4e05e7e2635a2931e6&xsessid=&xcreo=0&xed=0&sref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.businessinsider.com%2Faustralia-gun-control-shootings-2015-10&pref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F&xtz=300) reports that not only did homicides involving guns decrease by 59%, suicide rates dropped and non-gun related homicide did not increase. That’s significant because detractors often argue that a killer will kill regardless of the weapon available. Incidentally, the data show that when guns are no longer readily accessible, murder seems a less viable option.

Interview with Australian PM John Howard

Because "Mass" in "Mass Shooting" Refers to Many Lost Lives

  • March 2005, Living Church of God Meeting Shooting, 10 dead
  • March 2005, Red Lake Senior High School, 12 dead
  • March 2006, Capitol Hill, Seattle, 7 dead
  • October 2006, Amish School in Pennsylvania, 6 dead
  • February 2007, Salt Lake City Mall, 5 dead
  • April 2007, Virginia Tech, 22 dead
  • December 2007, Omaha Department Store, 5 dead
  • February 2008, City Hall in Missouri, 6 dead
  • February 2008, Northern Illinois University, 6 dead
  • March 2009, North Carolina Nursing Home, 8 dead
  • April 2009, New York Immigration Center, 13 dead
  • November 2009, Fort Hood, 13 dead
  • August 2010, Hartford Beer Distributor, 9 dead
  • January 2011, Gabby Giffords Event, 6 dead
  • September 2011, Nevada IHOP, 5 dead
  • October 2011, California Hair Salon, 8 dead
  • February 2012, Chardon High School, 3 dead
  • April 2012, Oikos University, 7 dead
  • April 2012, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 3 dead
  • May 2012, Seattle Café, 6 dead
  • July 2012, Aurora Shooting, 12 dead
  • August 2012, Sikh Temple, 7 dead
  • September 2012, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 6 dead
  • December 2012, Clackamas Town Center, 3 dead
  • June 2013, Santa Monica, 5 dead
  • September 2013, D.C., 12 dead
  • April 2014, Ft. Hood, 3 dead
  • May 2014, Isla Vista, 6 dead
  • June 2015, Charleston Church Shooting, 9 dead
  • July 2015, Chattanooga, Tennessee, 5 dead
  • October 2015, Oregon Community College, 9 dead
  • November 2015, Colorado Springs, 3 dead
  • December 2015, San Bernardino, 14 dead

254 lives lost should legitimize the need for a reassessment of gun laws. However, the power of influence is not currently possessed by the majority. Shifting the sphere of influence begins with recognizing that the current discussion of gun control is encumbered by misinformation and redirection. A factual discussion of gun violence, its grim reality and its systemic causes could spur a shift in legislative action.

Where You Stand on Gun Control

Can Gun Control Laws Decrease the Number of Homicides in America?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Besarien profile image

      Besarien 2 years ago

      Gun laws have no effect because criminals don't abide by the laws, gun laws or otherwise. What gun laws do is make it harder for me to get a gun legally in order to defend myself if say my crazy abusive ex husband/boyfriend gets paroled out of prison. Do you think the police are going to set up camp in my living room to stop something bad from happening just because I'm scared? I can tell you that they aren't going to care.

      Once it happens it makes the news but nobody except my family and friends are going to care either. At that point, there is nothing anyone can do except bury us. If he used a gun though then people will say "look we need more, better, stricter gun laws because look what happened to this poor black woman and her kid."

      Guns are great equalizers. With a gun I am as dangerous and deadly as a man twice or three times my size with an ax or even a gun. I'm probably a lot more dangerous than him if I am knowledgeable and practiced with my guns (which I am) and have the extra incentive of defending my kid. I also have a gun safe by the way so no I don't worry my kid is going to shoot his eye out accidentally.

      Australia? That is on the other side of the world. Look at places like DC and Chicago. Some of the strictest gun laws in America and people get shot there more than most places. Why is that? Because criminals don't have any trouble getting guns.

    • Andy Lee Lawson profile image
      Author

      Andrew Lawson 2 years ago from Knoxville, TN

      Thank, Timmy. I appreciate you reading it.

    • profile image

      Timmy 2 years ago

      Great read

    • Andy Lee Lawson profile image
      Author

      Andrew Lawson 2 years ago from Knoxville, TN

      That's the point of this hub. Maybe it's possible to have a reasonable conversation about public safety without partisanship.

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 2 years ago from Corona, California.

      But, there lies the big problem.

    • Andy Lee Lawson profile image
      Author

      Andrew Lawson 2 years ago from Knoxville, TN

      Greg, I think a lot of people hear "gun control" and equate it to a gun ban because they are government regulation as a slippery slope.

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 2 years ago from Corona, California.

      The only time I ever hear anything about "banning guns" is from gun advocates.

    • tsadjatko profile image

      TSAD 2 years ago from https:// www.consumeraffairs.com/ online/ hubpages. html

      I'm a fan, I like an Andy with your sense of humor, your appreciation of mine and the ability to listen to my rants without invoking the No True Scotsman fallacy like a child with a new toy... but as far as hoping others appreciate my contribution? keep hoping, they generally are not at your level of sobriety here. :-)

    • Andy Lee Lawson profile image
      Author

      Andrew Lawson 2 years ago from Knoxville, TN

      That was hilarious. I'm glad you're taking the precaution of keeping a dangerous weapon out of the hands of your 98 year old mother. Be well, and thanks for driving conversation. I genuinely appreciate your contribution. I hope others do as well.

    • tsadjatko profile image

      TSAD 2 years ago from https:// www.consumeraffairs.com/ online/ hubpages. html

      Understand, I appreciate your point of view and feel you have done a very good hub page presenting points of view and evidence for your feelings about this.

      One thing that confuses me is that we have and have had all kinds of gun control laws on the books in towns vs. state vs federal where there has been no clear cut results whatsoever that these laws are (1) effectively enforceable and (2) lead to less criminal shootings. Criminals or nut cases will get guns if they want or need them no matter what laws are in place, even a ban because anyone wishing to commit any kind of crime with a gun has no respect for the law to start with. The truth is the government can pass laws to address the speed limit with laws and penalties and control what kind of guns you may have and who may have them but you will still have deaths no matter what. Maybe fewer but how many fewer is still too many and who has the responsibility of deciding that, and if fewer isn't fewer enough will the slippery slope of gun control take away your constitutional rights.

      The solution really lies in the quality and caliber of our citizens' moral character and engagement in society which has been on a steep decline for a generation thanks to the promotion of liberalism by our media, our education system and our political system . People need to care more about people and vigilance, they need to slow down and seek the truth (that means not buy into liberal dogmas because they sound like they are full of good intentions) and not stand by disengaged from meaningful and important responsibilities on their part to better their communities which make up the country in which we live.

      Anyway, Andy, just to show you I am willing to go along to get along, the barber shop in a nearby town is raffling off an assault rifle. For every haircut you get one ticket, join the NRA there you get 5 tickets! My 98 year old mom wants me to take her ( and her 5 adult children, 10 grand children and 14 great grand children for haircuts all) there so she can have a shot at winning...she's wanted a gun ever since she broke her 12 gauge hitting me on the backside with it and figures all these children might be good for something if they can help her win it!

      I know it will break her heart but I'm going to nix the whole thing, who knows what she might do with an assault rifle. If I have my grand daughter tell her she is afraid she might shoot up her school, well maybe that will get the point across to her.

    • Andy Lee Lawson profile image
      Author

      Andrew Lawson 2 years ago from Knoxville, TN

      I think I understand. You value consistency in message. Basically, it seems that those who advocate for gun control often do so with the ulterior motive of limiting personal liberty in favor of strengthening government control. I respect that concern. I value personal liberty and recognize that discussing limiting access to any commodity sounds counter-intuitive to what it means to be American. I don't think guns should be taken away from citizens. I also don't think that a blanket ban of firearms is practical. What I think may be reasonable to suggest, however, is limiting the sale and distribution of assault weapons and high-powered firearms that are typically used in mass shootings. I think it is also important to note that when discussing this issue, I pointed out that shootings most likely occur among acquaintances. So, obviously an assault rifle ban wouldn't altogether end gun crime. But in addition to taking a look at the distribution of high-powered firearms, perhaps considering ways to increase the level of accountability for gun owners is in order. Personally, I own a pistol. I have a Sccy 9 mm. I don't oppose anyone's right to own a firearm, and I don't think that an exact replica of Australia's model is going to work in the United States. I am just hopeful that a conversation can be had that culminates in proactive strategies for preventing injury and death.

    • tsadjatko profile image

      TSAD 2 years ago from https:// www.consumeraffairs.com/ online/ hubpages. html

      Reducing the speed limit (speed limit control if you prefer) will undoubtedly save more lives than any conceivable gun control measures and it is in no way unconstitutional while what liberals really want of gun control is unconstitutional or there wouldn't be this debate. This begs the question what is the true motivation of liberals when they want to ban guns, their ultimate goal? Ask any liberal if it wasn't unconstitutional to ban guns would they choose that solution and you will find they unequivocally will approve of banning all guns.

      So it is obvious that those in the Democrat party who jump at every opportunistic tragic event to call for legislating guns are not interested primarily in saving lives but they have an alternate agenda, an agenda that the founders of America recognized and so moved to enable it's citizens to be equipped to thwart such people with tyrannical objectives.

      Our freedoms come with an acceptable cost of lives. Our government has decided, in the case of automobiles, that it will sacrifice preventable and calculable loss of innocent life purely for the sake of progress, impatience, commerce and competition, so if innocent lives, of men, women, children and unborn citizens are worth the sacrifice for what boils down to GREED then I ask you LIBERALS, how is it that guns, rational citizens' constitutional right to own, often one's best means of self defense and potentially our only means of preventing being taken over by a tyrannical government must be given up, controlled or dictated about. Is the cost of lives in the case of a gun toting society any different than the cost of lives we condone to get everywhere as fast as possible? I submit it isn't except to liberals whose real reason for gun control has nothing to do with the death of innocent lives.

      If I knew of just one gun control (like "ambulance chasers" after mass murders) activist who was pushing as fervently for a 5 MPH speed limit along with his/her gun control agenda maybe, just maybe I'd take them seriously.

    • Andy Lee Lawson profile image
      Author

      Andrew Lawson 2 years ago from Knoxville, TN

      Greg, you don't have to soften your view by caveat, "It's just my opinion." Your worldview is just as valid as anyone's. Gun control or "gun responsibility" is a catchy subject because it deals with weighing the issues of personal liberty and public safety. That is never easy.

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 2 years ago from Corona, California.

      People don't need assault rifles and semi automatic pistols. But the fact is, that if they are made, which they will be, people are going to get them. That's where responsibility comes in. If people insist on buying and selling these weapons then they need to be responsible for them. The sales should have to follow the laws, which obviously they don't, and people that buy the weapons should have to keep them secure. This crap excuse of keeping it loaded and handy in case someone breaks in is bull. If someone breaks in and you do have a gun, chances are that they will take it away and use it on you. again, just my opinion, Greg.

    • Andy Lee Lawson profile image
      Author

      Andrew Lawson 2 years ago from Knoxville, TN

      I wouldn't negate anyone's right to own a gun. I think what I wonder about is whether the second amendment is being recognized in letter or in spirit. What I mean is, does the right to possess a gun include all types of guns? Should there be types of firearms not available to the public? And sure there are lives lost in traffic accidents, but I think the analogy fails because reducing the speed limit isn't analogous to limiting access to guns.

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 2 years ago from Corona, California.

      I don't really understand why every time someone mentions "gun control" the thought goes right away to the thought that they don't want to allow people to have guns at all. That is so stupid. It shouldn't be called "gun control", it should be called "gun responsibility". Be responsible for your actions and the guns you do own. A lot more to it than that but that is the basics. Just my opinion and thoughts. Greg.

    • tsadjatko profile image

      TSAD 2 years ago from https:// www.consumeraffairs.com/ online/ hubpages. html

      You know what the problem is with the pathetic liberal call for gun control is every time there is a gun tragedy? I'm not taking sides by the way, I'm pointing out exactly how liberals are disingenuous about this as they are about any of their ballyhooed causes.

      They claim that their motivation for gun control is only to save innocent lives and that those who oppose banning guns don't care about stopping these mass shootings.

      But if liberals motivation is so altruistic why aren't they lobbying for the speed limit to be reduced to 5 MPH. Do you know how many innocent lives that would save? After all if your right to have a gun isn't just how in the world do they justify anyone's right to drive an automobile and speeds that kill innocent people, many more every year than are killed by firearms.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)