By Hannah Schultz, Features Editor
In the United States, you can legally purchase and own a rifle at the age of 18. Even before you can drink a beer or rent a car, you can obtain the human invention that was responsible for 32,251 deaths in 2011, according to the CDC, which is about 88 deaths per day that year.
Gun control has become a volatile issue in the past few years as mass shootings have become more publicized by the media and gained national attention. In a study by Mother Jones, from 1982 to May 2014, there have been 61 mass murders perpetrated with firearms across 30 different states.
“Somehow this has become routine,” President Obama said after the Oregon shooting in October. “The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine, the conversation in the aftermath of it … We have become numb to this.” According to CBS News Correspondent Mark Knoller, Obama’s Oregon address was his 15th in response to mass shootings.
“We are not the only country on Earth that has people with mental illnesses or want to do harm to other people,” Obama said in the Oregon address. “We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months.”
The U.S. holds less than five percent of the world’s population, but it is home to 35 to 50 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns, according to the Small Arms Survey. While many argue that even if guns are banned, people will still find a way to own guns and the murder-rate will be relatively unchanged, this just isn’t true. Harvard’s Injury Control Research Center analyzed the relationship between homicide and gun availability using data from 26 developed countries and found that “across developed countries, where guns are more available, there are more homicides.”
After the Aurora, Colo. shooting, former Australian Prime Minister John Howard addressed the U.S.’s issue with gun control, saying, “There are many American traits which we Australians could well emulate to our great benefit. But when it comes to guns, we have been right to take a radically different path.”
It is time to reconsider if the 2nd Amendment is really protecting the freedom of the American citizen
In response to a massacre in Tasmania that left 35 dead in 1996, Howard passed a law that banned semiautomatic and automatic rifles and shotguns. It also instituted a mandatory buy-back program for newly banned weapons. In the decade after the law was introduced, the firearm homicide rate fell by 59 percent, and the firearm suicide rate fell by 65 percent, according to a study by Andrew Leigh of Australian National University and Christine Neill of Wilfrid Laurier University.
Japan has perhaps the strictest gun control laws on the globe. According to Business Insider, civilians cannot possess handguns, automatic assault weapons, semi-automatic assault weapons, military rifles or machine guns. Without a license, a Japanese citizen isn’t even permitted to touch a firearm. Failure to follow this law can result in up to 10 years in prison. Hunting rifles and shotguns are legal, but can be obtained only after an exhaustive application process.
And do Japan’s stringent laws work? The answer is a unanimous yes. In 2008, there were 11 gun homicides. In 2006, there were two gun homicides. In 2007, there were 22, which caused a national scandal during which the government analyzed the possible loopholes in its current policies.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have already been 11,025 deaths due to gun violence in the U.S. in 2015. Is it possible that 11,003 lives could have been spared if gun control laws were enforced in this country? There is no guarantee. However, despite these uncertainties, it is time to reconsider if the 2nd Amendment is really protecting the freedom of the American citizen, or if it’s putting us all at risk of becoming another number in that statistic or another grieving family member receiving Obama’s next address.