Stricter gun restrictions necessary for safety of all Americans

Infographic by Ashley Marie Lardizabal

Infographic by Ashley Marie Lardizabal

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Mass shootings are no longer uncommon, and it’s a frightening fact that American citizens now face such occurrences too often.

In 2015, over 350 mass shootings in the United States took place, killing scores of people.

The most recent shootings occurred in San Bernadino, Calif. and Savannah, Ga. on Dec. 2.

Stricter gun control is necessary for the safety of the average American.

The Second Amendment states that a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Gun rights advocates continuously use the amendment in opposition to any changes in existing gun laws in Washington and in individual states. The leading proponent of gun rights for U.S. citizens is the National Rifle Association (NRA) which spends millions to promote and maintain gun rights.

In 1787, however, the United States Constitution was written at a time when the young nation was ravaged by war and Americans needed to defend themselves and to maintain their newfound freedom.

Gun ownership was prevalent because  guns were a necessity for self-defense, hunting and protection.

In 2016, this is not the case.

It is frighteningly easy to obtain guns.

At gun shows throughout the country, people can purchase guns without background checks.

People can freely buy guns from online sites, again, with no background checks.

Others often get guns from family members and friends who have legally purchased the weapons.

Guns bought in stores, such as Walmart or Dick’s Sporting Goods, require the buyer to go through a background check conducted by the FBI.

The only denials issued from the background check are “if a purchaser has been convicted of a felony, or misdemeanors with sentences exceeding two years, or has been declared ‘mentally defective’ by a court,” according to CNN.

Denial rates, however, are a mere 1 percent.

In 2013, President Obama proposed a plan for gun control after the massacre of children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary. The plan included “closing background check loopholes, banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, making schools safer and increasing access to mental health services,” according to the Congressional Research Service.

The bill was not passed by the U.S. Senate.

Stricter gun control must be enforced by the government, especially in the face of so many violent acts happening regularly.

Military and law enforcement possess about four million guns, but everyday citizens own about 310 million, a ratio of one to 79.

Reduction in the number of firearms in American households will keep communities safer.

“For every one percent increase in a state’s gun ownership rate, there is a nearly one percent increase in its firearm homicide rate,” said Mother Jones magazine.

Types of guns sold must also be controled.

While handguns and shotguns cannot be sold to minors, long guns and rifles have no age limit.

According to a study conducted by the Violence Prevention Research Program at the UC Davis Medical center, “Handgun purchasers accounted for less than 1 percent of the study population but 2.4 percent of gun homicides, 14.2 percent of gun suicides and 16.7 percent of unintentional gun deaths.”

Extremely dangerous guns, such as AK-47s, have no imminent use for the average person and therefore, should not be sold at all.

Some gun advocates claim that having guns in homes is important for personal defense and safety.

The Pew Research Center said, “About a third of all Americans with children under 18 at home have a gun in their household, including 34 percent of families with children younger than 12.”

People with guns in their homes, however, are at greater risk of dying from homicides than those without guns, according to the Oxford Journals’ American Journal of Epidemiology. People with mental disorders, diagnosed or not, also put others in danger by having guns at their disposal.

Anti-gun control advocates claim that the Second Amendment allows for the ownership of firearms and that this right should not be infringed upon.

However, the lack of strict gun control evidently harms many innocent bystanders and is a constant threat to the community as seen in the immense number of recent mass shootings.

In January, President Obama released a statement on new executive actions he will take to reduce gun violence.

First, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is requiring all gun sellers to conduct background checks of buyers to prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands.

Furthermore, President Obama plans stricter enforcement of gun laws. The Attorney General held a meeting with U.S. Attorneys nationwide “to direct federal prosecutors to continue to focus on smart and effective enforcement of our gun laws,” according to the White House. The president will also provide funding for 200 new ATF investigators to help enforce gun laws.

President Obama’s other plans to increase gun safety include increasing mental health treatment and conducting research for gun safety.

With stricter implementation of gun laws, gun fatalities and injuries can be reduced.

By decreasing the number of guns and monitoring the types of firearms in the hands of citizens, the United States will ultimately be a safer place for its current citizens and future generations.