By: Jacob Fisher
In the wake of the recent Parkland, Florida shooting, people wonder why there is such a huge demand for guns in the US. The gun control debate is more fired up than ever, with questions about whether people really need daily access to weapons of war.
There is a vast quantity of civilian-owned firearms in the United States — About 270 million, according to the Pew Research Center. About five percent of those firearms are antiques or family heirlooms according to Gallup, and therefore don’t function. However, 95 percent can kill you.
Why do people own so many guns? According to a 2013 Gallup poll, 60 percent of people say they own guns for personal safety, 36 percent for hunting, and five percent “for Second Amendment rights” according to a 2013 Gallup Poll. In other words, five percent own guns just because they can. To these people, it makes sense that owning a device that can blast a chunk of metal at supersonic speeds into someone’s face would be a good idea, regardless of the fact that a firearm could do more harm than good in dangerous or stressful situations. Most guns that people own are more likely to be used in a domestic dispute than for stopping an armed intruder, according to an article by Psychology Today. This is still leaving out the people that use firearms for hunting.
Americans like hunting. A 5-Year Report by the U.S. Department of the Interior shows that “101.6 million Americans — 40 percent of the U.S. population 16 years old and older — participated in wildlife-related activities in 2016, such as hunting, fishing, and wildlife-watching.” Hunting and fishing are still an important part of American culture. The most common types of firearms used for hunting are shotguns and rifles, not assault weapons, and therefore don’t require such stringent regulations. Semi-automatic weapons are simply not necessary for hunting.
The main problem surrounding guns is the patchwork of gun laws in the United States. If I wanted to purchase an assault weapon in California, I would not be allowed to. However, if I went to Utah, I could purchase all the assault weapons I want. Only seven states ban the sale of assault weapons, only eight ban the sale of high capacity magazines, and only 20 states enforce mandatory background checks. This means that people can avoid most firearm regulations simply by purchasing firearms in a state that does not have a certain regulation. The only saving grace for this patchwork of regulations is the fact that it could be mildly difficult to transport weapons over state lines. As long as your weapon is unloaded and in the trunk of your vehicle, no one will notice.
To prevent gun violence, we can enforce a few basic federal gun regulations, such as requiring all states to perform comprehensive background checks, instituting a universal ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, and prohibiting the sale of weapons to high-risk individuals. Without some form of universal gun regulations, our current set of state-by-state regulations are utterly useless in restricting the sale of firearms. Limiting the ridiculous number of guns sold in the United States will greatly assist in preventing mass shootings in the future.