Gunning for a solution – How does the US get a grapple on its firearms issue?

Yesterday, the United States was hit by another mass shooting.  A white man, believed to be in his mid-30’s was shot dead in the city of Odessa, Texas after having killed 7 and injuring a further 22. His motive for the attack remains unclear but it is said that it is not linked to terrorism or committed on behalf of a radical ideology. 

In a time where the citizens of the United States should be standing together and mourning the loss of innocent lives, it has become another virtue-signalling screaming match designed to gain political leverage.

The issue with guns, in America, has polarised the country on a level I didn’t think was possible. Figureheads on the political right, are deemed as unfeeling or uncaring towards the deaths of the victims as they generally don’t want to push things like mandatory gun buy-back programs. Figureheads on the political left are deemed as authoritarian and want to undercut the foundations of what America was built on. There is seemingly no middle ground is this area of politics as it is rife with emotion-fuelled hatred, bold calls to action and a lack of understanding of the gun rationale that is held by the opposite side of the political aisle.

Ok, let’s break this down.

Looking at the stats.

One of the problems is agreement, between some people, on whether the United States even has a gun problem in the first place. Well…. Does it?. Both of the arguments are compelling. Statistics produced by the BBC suggest that in 2016 38,658 people died at the hands of a firearm. An article by the Guardian, estimates the figures at 39,773 in 2017 and upwards of 40,000 in 2018. It is a compelling argument to say that this level of gun-related fatalities is a problem. You’d be mental not to see that as somewhat of an issue. We are talking about a significant (and often unnecessary) loss of life. 

When you break down the statistics, there is also a valid argument to suggest that America does not have nearly as big of a gun homicide problem as the media might have you think. Out of the 38,658 people that died by guns in 2016, just over 60% of them were suicides (this is a hugely significant part of the gun argument but will need to be parked for now). This leaves you with 14,415 gun homicides in the United States. This is still a massive problem but when we realise that only 71 people died as a result of “mass shootings” where does that leave the other 14,344 homicides?

This brings us on to a huge problem. Gang violence. I get that we are jumping years here and the statistics may not correlate but it is important to note that according to the FBI in 2015 more than 6000 black men were killed by other black men. When we talk about gun violence hotspots we think of gang-related warfare in LA, Baltimore, downtown Atlanta, and Chicago. They all have gangs and gang members creating a disproportionate amount of the violence.

Black gang affiliates and other black men were responsible for 76% of the gun violence in Chicago despite only accounting for 35% of the population according to the Daily Wire. 78% of juvenile arrests that were made were young black men.

Having said this, it can be argued that the huge bulk of the homicides are gang and minority related. The media and political institutions inherent focus on so called “mass shootings” is merely the tip of the iceberg and statistically, it isn’t even that.

The AR-15 assault rifle has been given extra media attention as it appears to be the “preferred weapon of choice” for shooters.

Some points to note:

“We need to ban the AR-15 assault rifle as it is the preferred weapon of choice to commit mass shootings” – According to the FBI, 64% of gun deaths in the US are committed by handguns. Why would this not be the main focus to slice gun deaths?

“Our (US) gun death rates are one of the highest in the world” – This is often a misconstrued statistic. When factoring in the United State’s 1.2 guns per head ownership rate and the number of homicides. You end up with a figure of around 4.6 people per 100,000 of the population. In countries where the gun ownership rate is a lot lower, the rates are drastically higher. Compared to America’s 4.6, according to Wiki, Honduras has 60, Venezuela has 49.2 and even Jamaica has a rate of 30. This hasn’t even factored in the rate of gun ownership which really does dispel the myth of a horrible homicide problem.

“Why can’t we just ban guns” – America just works differently. The second amendment in the constitution is the right to bear arms. This, by a huge percentage of the population is viewed as an inalienable, untouchable and God-given right. The constitution is the foundation of American way of life and the whole basis for the judicial system. A banning of guns would mean a revoking of the constitution would mean, to some, an annihilation of a free society. A big reason why Republicans want to keep their weapons is to be used as a resistance to government tyranny and authoritarian behaviour. Stripping rights would be seen as authoritarian style behaviour and would not end well with regards to a potentially violent conflict of interest. If a conflict ever arose from the forced removal of rights from a dictatorial government, the resulting fallout and death toll could be worse than the initial problem.

My issues with the gun debate

The “terrorist” label – When it comes to mass shootings, they aren’t all terrorists. Contrary to popular opinion, Terrorism is defined as ‘the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims’. In the cases of some of the shootings we have seen, they generally have not had a political or ideological motive behind the shootings. The left wing particularly like to attribute racist intent to those that don’t label every shooter as a terrorist. It has to be analysed on a case-by-case basis.

The refusal to accept the mental illness epidemic – People like to use mass shootings as a springboard to push their own agenda. The left typically Blame shootings on President Trump and those who oppose their gun policy. It is these same people, from what I can see, that completely disregard the ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’ philosophy. You cannot rule this out, it is absolutely true. Mental health issues and drug use are running rampant in American society. 60% of total gun deaths are suicides. Going back to the 2016 figures, that was over 22,000 Americans that year. What is driving predominantly white men to these extreme acts with guns? If people are serious about reducing gun deaths, They must address their mental health problems and gang and minority violence issues. 

Demonisation of the otherside in pursuit of political superiority – The American people have to stop this virtue signalling and political demonization of those of whom in which they disagree with. It’s time to work together. Mass shootings are a huge problem but they are indicative of a deeper social fabric problem. No more patch jobs, tackle the hard issue.

Focus on the real problem, not solutions that just sound good – Statistically, we have identified the problem areas in gun violence. So, why are they not the focus of debate? Politics. Banning AR-15’s? Pointless. Banning guns? It is horrible policy and potentially more damaging. We can all see the problems, find some common ground and focus there.

Author: Danny Sutton

I love a bit of politics. Challenging societal norms and asking the bold questions is what politics and discussion is all about. If you are lucky enough to have landed on this page, feel free to immerse in a plethora of opinion pieces. Feel free to comment and educate me, this area of writing is one where we can all learn from each other. All views are my own.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s