Gun sales have soared in the wake of a couple of tragic mass shootings that have shocked the nation. Fear has driven the spike in sales, but it isn’t just an emotional response to the shootings in Aurora, CO or Oak Creek, WI.
Major tragedies that transpire due to horrific gun-related violence are often immediately followed by two things: A national shouting match over whether or not we should enact some measure of tougher gun control to help minimize such incidents in the future and a rise in gun sales over fears that such laws will be seriously considered at any level of government.
We saw some of the biggest gun sales after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 because influential far right personalities like Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck told the masses (or whomever would listen) that Obama was going to take their guns away. He didn’t. In fact, since the President was sworn into office the White House hasn’t proposed a single serious policy proposal for stricter gun control.
The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is something most elected officials on Capitol Hill won’t touch. They know the potential consequence for doing so is political suicide. Politicians on the Left will talk big on the campaign trail or at fundraising dinners, but seldom follow up on their words when they get into office. It’s a story all too common with our elected officials.
The statistics on the issue can easily be manipulated by both sides of the debate, but the facts are that roughly 68% of total homicides annually are due to gun violence. Availability in firearms has increased substantially over the last twenty years, but compared to twenty years ago fatalities due to gun violence has dropped. This stat is quoted often by those who oppose even the slightest change to current laws that might be perceived as an infringement on Second Amendment rights.
Gun violence was significantly higher in 1992 than it is today, and peaked in 1993. After this point, there was a sharp decrease in gun-related homicides that leveled off in 1999. The number plateaued until 2002. Since that year, we have seen a small, but gradual increase in the number of deaths that have occurred as a result of gun violence each year. The only number that has consistently dropped is the number of nonfatal gun-related crimes.
This is an issue that deserves a better debate than what we have seen. One side wants heavy gun control while the other side just yells, “Second Amendment!” as loud as they can. The constitutionally protected right to bear arms was established as a way to preserve the Free State by ensuring people have the right and ability to defend themselves against tyranny and oppression.
The problem with the zero-tolerance and hardcore gun control arguments is that there is no evidence to support the claim that a prohibition on guns would completely solve the issue of gun violence. In fact, if history teaches us anything it is that federal programs or laws in the United States that emphasize strict bans on just about anything don’t work. The prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s and early 1930s was a huge failure. The “War on Drugs” has not only failed, but continues to waste billions in public funds.
This is not to say there shouldn’t be laws in place to help diminish the problem, because even people who support concealed handgun laws and believe that property rights include the ability to have firearms in the home can reasonably agree that laws that would require more extensive background checks and would require longer holding periods that are applied on a case-by-case basis is a rational approach. The truth is, there are people in this country who should not be allowed to own guns.
It is often the case that the crazed, lone gunmen involved in our nation’s most horrific mass shootings didn’t buy their weapons off the streets, but in gun shops and off the Internet. They buy them in the same stores someone with a permit or license to carry buys them. These are people that should have raised red flags, but managed to slip under the radar.
That being said, the law should protect a person’s right to defend themselves, their family, and their property and allow them the means to be able to do so. Violent crimes, especially the most abhorrent, are often committed by people who do not have a license or permit to carry firearms of any kind. States don’t just give permits to anyone. Concealed Handgun Licenses require individuals to prove to their state that they are fully capable of the privilege. The problem is not with these specific laws.
When some people feel like the government might take measures that will infringe on their individual rights it causes a knee jerk reaction. These people get an image in their heads of federal agents going door-to-door to take their guns away. It’s a premature reaction to something that is not going to happen. Gun control is, however, likely to be a subject that will be brought up during a presidential debate this year.