Sunday, March 10, 2013

Please Tread On Me!

Following the tragic murder of 26 Sandy Hook Elementary School staff and students, the issue of gun control in America has reached a boiling point. Coined in his article "America as a Gun Culture", historian Richard Hofstadter popularized the term "gun culture" to refer to America's long standing affection to firearms. The admiration stems from the association of guns and the American heritage, a complex duo that has helped foster a relatively lax gun policy in the U.S. A time of western expansion when guns were needed on the American frontier has created a society in which gun violence has reached epic proportions. I'm sure that every single day when you turn on the television or pick up a newspaper, it is almost impossible not to read about another death or injury by gun violence. It is not just the lack of gun controls that haunts American society but the sheer amount of guns in this country itself-- with 270 million guns belonging to put that into perspective that is 88.9 firearms per 100 people!! The U.S. with 4.5% of the worlds population holds about 40% of privately owned guns! 

It's a sad truth, but statistics have shown that stricter gun control leads to less gun violence in society. A new study by Boston's Children's Hospital which showed that states with more gun laws exhibited less gun violence. Although several factors such as type of laws, enforcement of laws and gun ownership rates in states were not taken into account but the study indicates that laws play a major role in preventing firearm deaths. According to the study, states with the most gun laws had a mortality rate 42% lower than the states which had the fewest. 

Like the story of Trayvon Martin, where a young boy was shot because he was deemed a threat by a deranged neighbor or the case of Virginia Tech where a boy with clear mental health issues killed his classmates in a rage. The access that American's have to gun ownership is shockingly easy, where people with mental health issues can obtain a gun or an enraged civilian can instill his wrath with ease. Of course many advocate for the right to gun ownership to protect themselves, but the reality is the psychosis of a society changes when their is more restricted passage to violence. 15 of the last 25 mass killings in the last 50 years has been in the United States! But Washington Post does acknowledge that "An August CNN/ORC poll asked respondents whether they favor or oppose a number of specific policies to restrict gun ownership. And when you drill down to that level, many policies, including banning the manufacture and possession of semi-automatic rifles, are popular." 
If there was a time to act, it's now. As gun violence spirals out of control, public policy and litigation will be our only savior. Lastly, I leave you with a touching speech from Former representative Gabby Gifford's, a victim of gun violence. Be bold, be courageous.

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