OP/ED: More Gun Control Isn’t the Solution

OP%2FED%3A+More+Gun+Control+Isn%27t+the+Solution

In less than one week, America has seen two mass shootings take place in Atlanta, Georgia, and Boulder, Colorado. These shootings have resulted in the death of 18 people and thrust Americans back into the debate on gun control. 

Almost instantly, calls for expanded gun control measures rang out from the average citizen through Congress all the way to the White House. 

President Joe Biden said, “We have to act.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer echoed these thoughts in his comments on ensuring a debate will take place in the Senate on “the epidemic of gun violence in this country.”

This will lead Democrats and other members of the left to once again target and attempt to limit the basic right of owning firearms legally which every American has the right to. This is fundamentally a right that the founders said: “shall not be infringed.” 

However, Democrats such as Vice President Kamala Harris have said in an interview, this is about introducing reasonable gun safety laws. If I truly believed she meant this, I don’t know one conservative who would oppose it. I support gun laws that prevent violent felons and mentally ill people from obtaining guns. These laws need to be specific in order to not exclude anyone who, just because they suffer from a slight mental disability, can no longer own a firearm. 

Other basic common sense laws like background checks are needed, but banning a specific type of gun is something I can never support. 

The ban of AR-15 and other weapons, which supporters of gun control consider “assault weapons” is purely optics. An AR-15 to people who are not familiar with guns is more intimidating, and like every other weapon from a knife, bat, or gun can be dangerous if placed in the wrong hand. However, if they really want to go after guns that are killing more people per year than any other, they are choosing the wrong one. 

If supporters of gun control truly cared about the safety of people, shouldn’t they go after handguns?  Statistically, handguns kill more people per year than rifles and shotguns combined according to the 2019 Statista Research Department report on U.S. murder victims by weapons

The numbers aren’t even close. Over 6,000 people in 2019 were killed by someone using a handgun. A total of 564 people were killed by someone using a rifle or shotgun. Knives and cutting instruments alone accounted for just under 1,500 deaths in 2019

I would still disagree with a ban on handguns, but at least the thought process would make sense. They would target the gun that is used in the most deaths. Instead, they go after the one that in states such as New York under the SAFE act is already difficult to obtain. 

The argument of the high-capacity magazine will be introduced as the reasons for eliminating guns such as an AR-15. States such as California already have bans on “large-capacity magazine”. This prevents someone from legally owning, “any ammunition feeding device with the capacity to hold more than 10 rounds.” So according to these states with similar bans, 9 is good, but 11 is bad. I don’t see the logic behind that to ordinary law-abiding citizens. 

The Second Amendment exists so law-abiding citizens have the ability to defend themselves against a potentially tyrannical government. To limit this in any way violates the “shall not infringe” part of the amendment. 

Among prisoners in a special report by the United States Department of Justice in 2016, 90 percent who possessed a gun during their offense did not obtain it through a retail source. These retail sources are the only place you could reasonably enforce gun laws. They are already subjected to the laws and regulations of both state and federal governments. 

The report also states that weapons purchased at gun shows, which is the infamous loophole often mentioned, only accounted for .8 percent used during offenses by prisoners. 

In fact, 43.2 percent of firearms purchases are “off the street or in underground markets.” These are already illegal, so wouldn’t it be more effective to put the effort into enforcing those laws instead of making more laws that won’t solve the issues? 

Criminals and people with bad intentions do not care what the law says. They will illegally modify whatever they can get their hands-on in order to carry out acts of evil. This is obvious. It is illegal in most states to modify a rifle or any firearm as it should be. This is common sense, but that does not apply to evil people who seek to harm. 

The 2015 San Bernadino shooting, which killed 16, is an example of a firearm purchase legally which was modified into an illegal firearm.

More gun laws won’t stop this. Taking guns away from ordinary citizens won’t stop this. Evil people will never stop doing evil things. Disarming good people will only harm more good people. 

Now, I do agree with Schumer that there is an epidemic in this country. That epidemic, however, is not guns but mental health. This wave of gun violence, over the past 20 plus years, is a direct symptom of mental illness increasing in America. This can be expected to be further inflamed by the pandemics’ effect on mental health. 

From Columbine to Sandy Hook to Aurora to Las Vegas to Boulder and many in between, mental illness appears to be a major factor in what led up to these shootings. 

The most recent shooting in Boulder and its investigation are far from over. It’s not right to say definitively why the shooter did what he did when he killed 10 people, including a police officer. Several people that know the shooter have indicated they had a suspicion he suffered from a mental illness.

This is a common theme that connects all of these very unique shootings. Many of these shooters are either suffering from mental health issues, taking psychiatric medication, or coming off of taking similar medication. 

All of this indicated in the report, Psychiatric Drugs: Creating Violence, Suicide, School Shootings and Other Acts of Senseless Violence.” This was conducted by Citizens Commission on Human Rights International, a mental health industry watchdog, in March 2018. 

Now I want to be clear here, not everyone who takes an antipsychotic is going to walk into their local shopping center and start shooting. The overwhelming majority of individuals can take these drugs and receive the help they need. 

I have friends who take similar medication and have improved because of that.

However, in the report on page three, an antidepressant clinical trial showed that “Increased mental and/or physical agitation has led to about 5 percent of subjects taking antidepressants to drop out of clinical trials.” 

They take that percentage and apply it to the 41 million Americans currently on an antidepressant and estimate that 2.05 million can experience “increased agitation.” 

Now being reasonable, increased agitation does not mean the person will become a mass shooter. However, even if 1 percent of the individuals reach that level of 2.05 million. That is still 20,500 individuals who pose a risk to their lives and others.

The report also indicates that over 2 million children take antidepressants documented to cause violent and suicidal behavior. This correlates directly to the rise in shootings from the early 2000s until today. You don’t need a fancy research study to tell you that. 

This is not the only report related to this topic. Starting in 1996 through 2017, over 33 studies were conducted showing a connection between these psychotic drugs and violence. Additionally, the report documents almost 70 separate shootings linked to these drugs between 1988 and 2017. They are all included at the bottom of the report

I’m not saying that if we solve the mental health crisis and help every individual who has these violent thoughts or actions that shootings will end. They will never end. Evil will always exist in this world, and we have to live with that. 

Attempting to add more restrictive gun laws is only a band-aid to a much larger issue this nation suffers from. Even if the laws were effective, these individuals will just move on to something else to carry out these acts, and our country as a whole will be much worse off than it is now. 

It’s much more effective to get to the problem of why mass shootings are happening instead of focusing on what they are using while it happens.