Would Gun Control Laws Actually Prevent Violence?

by Mya Nielson, Junior Editor

In the wake of the mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand that left 50 people dead, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the banning military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles, and high-capacity magazines. The announcement came only 72 hours after the shootings, and left many Americans wondering if the U.S. government should take similar action.

It is estimated that the U.S. has the greatest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world, with 88.8 guns per 100 people. This is especially impressive considering that the country with the second highest, Yemen, has only 54.8 guns per 100 people. With such a large amount of guns, it is no wonder that domestic gun violence is so prevalent, proving the necessity for tighter restrictions on the purchase and ownership of firearms in the U.S..

“I think that with stricter gun control laws, it would be harder for guns to get into the hands of people who would use a weapon to purposefully and maliciously harm others,” junior, Natalie Lither said.

One country actually seems to prove that comprehensive gun laws could decrease gun violence on a large scale. After a mass shooting in Port Arthur in 1996, Australia radically changed its gun laws, and since then, has only had two mass shootings. The number of gun-owning households decreased by 50 percent, and nearly one-third of the country’s firearms were bought back by the government and destroyed. Australia’s example proves not only that gun laws could decrease gun ownership numbers, but that it could also decrease the amount of lives lost by it.

“I believe that we need gun control in public areas, such as in schools, malls, and stores,” sophomore, Rebi Slighting said. “However, I think that people should be able to have guns in private places, like at home, because if there is an intruder then you need to be able to protect yourself.”

However, the real question is whether or not similar gun laws would actually be effective in the U.S. The U.S. has far more guns, and many more people own them, so buying back the weapons would be costly and complicated. Additionally, a poll done by the Washington Post found that most Americans feel safer with gun in their house. Because of this, proposed gun laws face a lot more criticism in the U.S..

“Most shootings and bad situations with guns are because the person got the gun illegally,” sophomore, Janson Cribbs said. “Criminals will still have guns and we will have no protection.”

Another problem with gun control is that it would infringe on the rights of Americans to own guns for self-defense and recreational purposes. One alternative would be to implement more education and gun safety classes to ensure that each owner has competent knowledge of the dangers associated with owning a firearm.

It’s important to remember the Constitutional rights that America’s founding fathers set up to ensure specific freedoms, which is why the Second Amendment, which states that people have the right to “keep and bear Arms”, is cited by those who protest the enactment of more extensive gun laws. However, seeing as the United States Constitution was written during a time of turmoil and great physical danger, perhaps this amendment should be looked at in a new way that will ensure the highest level of safety for all American citizens.