How many countries in the world recognize gun possession legally? It is about 32 countries. Among these countries, there are three North American countries, ten Asian countries and advanced countries in Europe. However, in the chart of the number of guns per 100 people, you can see the United States is ranked first by a noticeable difference. The U.S. has 88.8 guns per 100 people, and this figure means that one people has about one gun. And what you should pay attention to is that gun homicide often occurs in advanced countries where gun ownership is allowed. From the Las Vegas mass shooting, which is the worst shooting ever in America, to the Florida school shooting, which made the citizens filled with rage, what are some problems with using guns facing the United States?
Recent Shooting Incidents in the U.S.
Las Vegas Mass Shooting
Last October in Las Vegas, there was a huge mass shooting at 22,000 spectators who attended an outdoor concert. The incident resulted in 58 deaths and about 550 injuries. The Las Vegas mass shooting has been noted as the worst shooting incident in American history. Steven Paddock, the mass murderer responsible, installed a “bump stock” on his semiautomatic rifle and made it automatic to commit more murders. When the police raided the suspect’s hiding place, he had already committed suicide. Many experts defined him as a lone wolf, meaning that he was not a member of terrorist groups, but was an autonomous terrorist. After this incident, public opinion has grown that guns should be regulated in the United States.
Florida School Shooting
In February, a mass shooting occurred again in the U.S. at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The suspected perpetrator, Nikolas Cruz, was a student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but was expelled from school due to breaking school rules. He fired his semi-automatic gun at random after he trespassed at the school. For this shooting, seventeen people, including students, were killed and fourteen more were taken to hospitals. The specific reason why he committed the crime is still unknown, but according to students who had known about the suspected shooter, he liked to read books about guns and showed an obsession with possessing guns.
After the shooting, parents and students of Marjory Stone Douglas High School started to argue in earnest that President Trump has to regulate the use of firearms. Also, through this incident, American perceptions have also changed in favor of gun control. According to an opinion survey conducted by Quinnipiac University, 67 percent of voters answered that carrying offensive weapons should be banned throughout the U.S., and 97 percent of ordinary people and voters who possess guns also said that the confirmation of identity is essential when purchasing a gun. And these figures are an increase from the previous year. The change in perception led to the start of the “Me next” campaign. With the slogan “I could be the next,” they held a 17-minute event in memory of the victims and demonstrated for school security and gun control.
After the Mass Shooting Incident
The discussion related to gun control has always been led by the Democrats whenever the mass shooting have occurred. In the case of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in 2012, the Democrats and President Obama proposed the Gun Control Act, but due to conflicts with the Republicans, finally they failed to pass the bill. After the Florida school shooting, the Democrats proposed a bill to ban the use of semi-automatic rifles and magazines of the guns that were used in Las Vegas and Florida. The bill was thrown out by 71 votes to 36. Parents and students having a little hope could not conceal their despondency. President Trump posted on his Twitter account as usual that the problem of the Florida school shooting is not gun control, but rather the personality of the suspected shooter.
However, as public opinion grows in support of gun control, he first set out to regulate the use of guns. He directed the Minister of Justice to make a bill that would ban the use of devices for converting semi-automatic rifles, such as bump stocks, into automatic weapons. This was Trump’s first instruction about gun control four months after the Las Vegas incident. Also, he ordered to raise the age limit up to 21 for buying semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 that was used in the Florida school shooting. However, it is questionable whether it will lead to legislation. According to a survey after the Florida incident conducted by the Washington Post, 80 percent of public opinion said that Congress is not doing their work enough to pass the bill for preventing mass shootings. Therefore, the legislation process is expected to be hard.
The Reasons Why Gun Control Has Not been Enforced
Why is the gun control still hard even though there have been lots of gun accidents in the U.S.? The number of guns that civilians of the U.S. have is about 270 million. Considering that the population of the U.S. is close to 300 million, it seems that almost everyone has a gun. Also, according to the American Journal of Public Health, three million Americans carry guns to protect themselves. In the cases of Canada, New Zealand, and Germany where using guns is allowed, the regulations of gun licensing are strict and the process of buying and keeping guns is quite detailed. However, due to the federal system of the U.S., every state has very different gun usage regulations. Even only 20 states have age restrictions on using guns, and people can buy guns easily in the internet. Above this, there are two main reasons why strict gun control in the U.S. is still hard.
Guarantee of the Right to Bear Arms
In the Second Amendment of the United States, which was adopted in 1791, it guarantees unrestrained ownership and carrying of guns by all American people. There is an historical reason for the enactment of this amendment. During the process of establishing a country and legislation after the independence of the U.S. from the U.K. in 1776, concerns were raised over the expected violation of the liberty of people by the standing army who is under the control of the government. This worry was based on the past in which Americans’ liberties were limited by the British king and the army. Therefore, this “right to bear arms” has kept its tradition as the second most important right following the “freedoms of religion, speech, assembly and press” in the U.S. for more than 200 years. Because of this, many Americans still think being self-armed is still important. This perception makes regulation of gun control harder.
The Enormous Power of the NRA
The National Rifle Association (NRA), founded in 1871 after the American Civil War has five million members, so this organization boasts its influence now as one of the largest interest groups in the United States. The members of the NRA include not only gun manufacturers, but also celebrities from all walks of life. Also, 9 out of the U.S. presidents have been members of NRA, so you can recognize how enormous power they exert to the U.S. The reason why they have such tremendous power is their astronomical amount of lobby money. In the last U.S. presidential election, the NRA spent a total of 66.5 billion won in the name of lobbying and contributions. Also, according to New York Times, they mostly support political contributions to the Republicans, and this amount of money reached 8.8 billion won in the Senate, and 1.2 billion won in the House of Representatives. Therefore, the Republican Party, which has been given lots of support from NRA, is forced to object to gun control. They have fear that if they support gun control, they could lose the NRA, which is a strong source of funding. Also, the NRA has such a huge power that they can eliminate existing regulations. The example was the PLCA (Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms) Act of 2005. This act prevents gun companies from receiving civil lawsuits for damages, so the NRA influenced that act to establish. Therefore, it was settled by the federal Congress.
The NRA, which has enormous power, has also done some worrying things. The number of families that has a gun has decreased in the U.S. since the 1970s. After thinking about the solution, the NRA has tried to make young children into potential buyers for firearms in the future. Since 2008, the NRA has been in progress of a program through which young children can get to feel firearms in a friendly manner. They have made advertisements to make people to feel the joy of guns and launched a gun magazine for children. Also, they held “the NRA Convention” to teach children how to use guns themselves.
The gunshot accidents that happen every year in the United States cost countless lives. Citizens who lost their loved ones have become to have louder voices regarding gun control. However, gun producers are different from these people. The NRA point of view is that, before becoming another victim, you have to buy your own gun and protect yourself. The United States is now at a crossroads. But this is all that's clear. Innocent sacrifices should not happen anymore.< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >