By Madina Safdari
When 17 people died and 14 others were injured at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, the dialogue that followed was cyclical in nature. It began with thoughts and prayers, tweets, Facebook posts, and eventually made its way to presidential visits and speeches. As the number of victims of gun violence increases, the debate regarding gun control prompts the resurfacing of age old arguments and falsehoods.
One popular argument used to oppose stricter gun control is that “laws will not stop criminals” which is a statement that Republican Senator of Florida Marco Rubio has defended time and time again.
However, Julian Santaella-Tenorio et al. proves otherwise in the academic research paper “What Do We Know About the Association Between Firearm Legislation and Firearm-Related Injuries?” The paper, published in the Oxford Academic Journal, stated that new laws on purchasing and owning guns tend to be followed by a drop in gun violence. Furthermore, buying a gun illegally is undoubtedly more difficult and expensive than locating the nearest licensed dealer.
Wayne LaPierre, the CEO and executive vice president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), has stated that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.” The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in tandem with the U.S Department of Justice, conducted a study of active shooter incidents in the United States between 2000 and 2013. It found that out of the 160 active shooting incidents within that time period, only one was stopped by an armed civilian.
Moreover, multiple simulations conducted by ABC News and others have shown that most people are ill-prepared to handle a gun.
According to the San Francisco based Legal Community Against Violence, only six states require any training before issuing a permit to own a gun. These details are especially important to consider when action is being taken to arm school teachers.
The Harvard Injury Control Research Center’s review of academic literature indicated that there was sufficient evidence to show that when more guns are in circulation, people are at a higher risk for homicide.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has devoted his time and energy focusing on the mental health issues of the attacker as justification to disregard stricter gun control. Mental health is incredibly important, and it is refreshing to see politicians give it the attention it deserves. However, it is unfounded to only mention mental health in order to derail conversations concerning stricter gun laws.
James L. Knoll and George D. Annas, fellows at State University of New York (SUNY), found in their research about mass shootings and mental illnesses that people with serious mental conditions represent only one percent of all gun homicides each year. Moreover, according to both the Washington Post and New York Times, while the U.S. has the highest per capita rate of gun related murders of all developed countries, Americans do not seem to have more mental health problems than other similarly sized developed nations. Yet, the U.S. has the most guns per person in the world: 88.8 for every 100 people.
Even President Trump’s reliability was called into question when he stated in a listening session with those affected by school shootings that he wants to be more strict with the mental aspect of background checks.
Yet in February of last year, according to NBC News, President Trump signed a bill into law that rolled back an Obama era regulation that made it harder for people with mental illnesses to buy a gun.
The long list of misinformation concerning gun control can go on for days. But the truth must come out in order to have guided and meaningful discussions about gun control and school safety.
Our lives depend on it.