Gun ownership must be limited

Marc Harary, Staff Writer

When asked about his intentions regarding regulating gun ownership at a 2008 Democratic debate, Barack Obama responded, “I don’t think that we can get that done. But what we can do is to provide just some common-sense enforcement.” Even before becoming president, Obama had already eloquently articulated the issue of gun control in America: enforcement is common-sense.

Supporters of gun ownership presume that gun control laws are either unconstitutional or somehow infringe upon the supposed right to bear arms, erroneously interpreting the Second Amendment as an unbridled license for private citizens to possess firearms. However, this view has been overturned time and time again in a number of court cases. Gun control laws have actually been in place for nearly as long as the Bill of Rights itself. Further, the Second Amendment was never intended to grant ordinary private individuals the right to own firearms, but rather to allow for the existence of “well regulated militias.”

Gun control would also indubitably reduce gun homicides in the United States. The absence of even minimal gun control has resulted in 464,033 total gun deaths—most of them committed by legally acquired weapons—from 1999 to 2013 in the United States. This represents 66.6 percent of all homicides during this interval. Simply put, the United States has one of the highest rates of gun-related violence of any first-world country.

Indeed, nations with stricter gun laws, like Sweden and Finland, have far lower gun-related homicide rates than the United States. Following up on a Harvard study, Professor David Hemenway, PhD, claimed, “We analyzed the relationship between homicide and gun availability using data from 26 developed countries… We found that across developed countries, where guns are more available, there are more homicides.”

Furthermore, advocates of lax gun laws who argue that firearms are vital to one’s self-defense are completely mistaken. Victims protected themselves with the threat or use of a firearm in a paltry 0.79 percent of crimes committed between 2007 and 2011. Precisely none of the 62 mass shootings between 1982 and 2012 were prevented by civilians equipped with firearms. Armed civilians simply lack the training of law enforcement officers to properly respond to such emergencies.

But perhaps the most cogent reason more stringent gun control legislation should be enacted is that it is simply favored by the majority of Americans. A 2013 study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 83 percent of adults surveyed, including gun owners and members of the NRA, were in favor of background checks and other simple, common-sense restrictions on firearms.

America today faces one of its greatest crises from the absence of logical gun control laws. Despite the increasingly tragic results of unrestricted gun availability, a vocal minority of Americans remains obdurately resolved to ignore the issue. Still, some persist in disregarding facts that fail to corroborate their tenuous, ad hoc arguments that the systemic gun violence that plagues the United States today is not the symptom of poor legislation. As President Obama said, “Somehow we become numb to [gun violence] and we start to feel that this is normal.” If we do not address the issue quickly, the United States will fall behind its fellow first-world nations in yet another regard.