There is no doubt that a multitude of factors result in gun crime, and there is no simple way to eradicate a culture and the ingrained sense of entitlement to guns that exists in America. But after the numerous mass shootings; in a cinema in Colorado; a Sikh temple in Wisconsin; the shooting in a factory in Minneapolis; and the final catalyst to Obama’s gun laws; the Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut, ignoring the fact that gun laws need to be tightened is impossible. Although there are various factors that contribute to these shootings, the easy access to guns is clearly one of them, and limiting access to them is one of the best ways to stop these kinds of shootings. Albeit, not the only way, and even if more guns do not equal more gun crime, a pretty basic logic states fewer guns equals fewer gun crimes.
America’s culture is most certainly a contributing factor to these mass shootings. Excessive focus on gun crime in music (“Shoot ‘em up, just shoot ‘em up, what…/Kill kill kill, murder murder murder” – Nas ‘Shoot ‘em up’) and film (“I count six shots, n*gger, I count two guns, n*gger” – ‘Django Unchained’) makes it clear there exists a normalisation of the presence of guns in parts of American culture. This is one of the problems with the gun epidemic, how ingrained it is in certain elements of American society. Even so, you don’t cultivate this kind of culture without being able to easily access guns.
The Second Amendment is problematic in the way that it produces an attitude of entitlement to guns, that it is a basic right to own a weapon. Growing up in a society that tells you that America is the best country in the world, and that its definition of ‘rights’ is an absolute, it is no wonder a mentality that tells you a gun is synonymous with freedom is prevalent. It leads to ridiculous logic, such as the National Rifle Association proposing putting more guns in schools…to prevent shootings. This backward logic that more guns equals more safety has to be disproven by the correlation between ‘civilian firearms per 100 residents’ and ‘number of homicides by firearms’ a year. Whilst places like the UK have about six guns per 100 residents, and only 18 homicides by firearm, America has 89 guns per 100 people, and a whopping 9,960 homicides by firearms. Even Switzerland, which has much more lax gun control than places like the UK for its people’s militia, only has 40 homicides a year by guns. There’s a massive confusion between the gun being both a weapon of defence and attack, and until people stop seeing guns as a right, and start seeing them as something that antagonises situations as opposed to solves them, this stupid logic will continue.
By creating more gun laws, you combat a culture of entitlement and question the validity of the Second Amendment. Obama’s laws are pretty basic – background checks to private gun sellers, revising a ban on assault rifles, limiting the number of rounds in a high capacity magazine, but they are still one step closer to combatting gun crime. People who commit mass shootings don’t do it simply because they have a gun and can, they do it because they’re angry, violent or mentally unstable, but also happen to have access to guns. Simply owning a gun doesn’t mean you’re going to go and shoot a cinema full of people, and it’s clearly the people who are responsible, not the inanimate objects. But, if people are the problem, then should they really be given such easy access to guns?
By Ruby Lott-Lavigna
Written January 2013 for the Leeds Student Newspaper