Guns Don’t Make Us Safer
June 29, 2018 by Maureen Porter
Guns are something you don’t see every day in South Korea. According to USA Today, South Korea has fewer guns per capita than any other developed nation, the number of registered guns being around 510,000. Registered guns in South Korea have to be kept at local police stations, which is something that is impossible to imagine in the United States. On March 28th, approximately 800,000 people marched in Washington D.C.. This march, dubbed the ‘March for Our Lives’, also led to other rallies across the United States including protests in New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, and Chicago. This movement came as a direct response to the high school shooting in Florida that resulted in the deaths of 17 people. These marches clearly exemplifies the tension surrounding gun control, although there have been no substantive changes in legislation since. By comparing gun control in the U.S. to that in other countries, it is clear that stricter gun control results in fewer gun deaths. However, despite these facts, the U.S. Congress has failed to pass gun control laws due to the inaction of American policy makers, as well as the influence of the National Rifle Association (NRA) in American politics.
In the United States today, gun-related deaths frequently make headlines. The Gun Violence Archive states that there were a total of 15,512 deaths in the U.S. due to gun violence, which includes 346 deaths from mass shootings alone. Could these horrible deaths have been prevented if gun control reforms had been made? An article in the New York Times claims that the odds of being killed by a gun in South Korea, a country with strict gun control, is the same as the chance of dying from being crushed by an object. The correlation between gun control and the number of gun-related deaths seems easily apparent, and this is also true in other countries. In countries where there is stricter gun control, such as Japan, there is clearly less gun violence and gun-related deaths. According to an article from Business Insider, if a Japanese citizen wants to be in possession a gun, “they must attend an all-day class, pass a written test, and achieve at least 95% accuracy during a shooting-range test”. Gun ownership in Japan is exceedingly more difficult than in the United States. Strict gun control in Japan has made the chances of being killed by a gun as likely as being struck by lightning (New York Times, 2016). In the United States, it is extremely more likely to be killed by a gun. According to the New York Times, dying from gun violence is as likely as being hit by a car. When contrasting nations with varying gun control laws, it is evident that stricter gun control laws lead to less gun-related deaths. However, despite this fact, the United States is still failing to change its laws. This is due to gun use being intertwined in the foundation of the American Constitution, as well as political relations with the NRA.
During a time of war in the 18th century, the U.S. Constitution, created by the Founding Fathers, allowed for the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment. The right for Americans to have access to guns was built into the foundation of the nation, and this has been used as a main reason against implementing strict gun control. To the Americans who oppose gun control, they believe it is their individual right to be able to bear arms, protected by the Constitution. However, when the U.S. Constitution was drafted, America was in a different state. To name a few conditions: there weren’t 50 states, slavery still existed, and the nation was recovering from domestic war. The U.S. is not the place it was in the 18th century; however, people today still use the Second Amendment to defend their right to bear arms, despite all the deaths guns have caused.
The second reason why the American government fails to pass strict gun control legislation is that the NRA wields not only financial but social influence that shapes the careers of many politicians. According to the non-profit organization Center for Responsive Politics, which collects data on lobbying and financial campaigning, eight lawmakers over the course of their entire careers have received one million dollars in campaign funding from the NRA. NRA backing is mainly aimed at the conservative Republicans who tend not to advocate gun control. According to CNN, of all current Republicans in the American legislature, only six have not received some sort of financial support from the NRA. Many of the current legislators have built their careers with donations from a pro-gun organization, because it allows them to continue gaining the benefits of social influence and financial power from the NRA. The NRA also runs numerous commercials as well as promotes social media hashtags such as #NRAspeaksforme which further promotes the NRA and their message. America continuously faces tragedy in failing to strengthen gun control due to its lack of progress to address its outdated Second Amendment, as well as failing to put the safety of Americans over support from the NRA.
Today, an increasing number of young people are raising their voices because they are afraid of falling prey to gun violence. It is clear that in countries with strict gun control, like South Korea and Japan, tragic mass shootings are nowhere to be seen. It is thus clear that gun control saves lives. If needed change does not occur regarding gun control legislation, the inevitable outcome is the continued loss of innocent American lives.