The recent San Bernadino shooting in California has shaken us all here at the University of Virginia. We are upset. We are frustrated. We want change.
It shocks me time and time again that, even after mass shootings such as this one, we as a country are still debating the necessity of stricter gun control policies.
The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurred and we, though denouncing it, did not act aggressively enough to tackle this problem. The Umpqua Community College shooting soon followed, killing ten people and wounding nine. Still, there was no change.
“We have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world.”—Barack Obama, CBSNews Interview
There is compelling evidence that gun control works to decrease gun violence. The success story of the 1996 Australian firearm sell-back program, for instance, elicits the effectiveness of arms reduction. Andrew Leigh of the Australian National University and Christine Neill of Wilfrid Laurier University researched the Australian policy’s effectiveness and summed up their findings in a 2012 paper. They estimated that buying back 3,500 guns per 100,000 people in Australia resulted in a 35 to 50 percent decline in the homicide rate. This effective governmental action should act as an example for US politicians and citizens, who are still doubting whether gun control is a viable solution.
Gun control laws can have another significant and positive effect on our society beside decreasing the homicide rate—namely, decreasing suicide in the United States. Media does not tend to elicit that 2/3 of deaths by firearm in the US are from suicide. Because of the abundance of guns and the high success rate of suicide by firearm (96.5 percent success rate in comparison to 5.1 percent by cutting and 7.4 percent by poison), gun violence to oneself is all too common.
Studies have shown that access to guns raises the risk of suicide. In 2008, the New England Journal of Medicine recorded data on suicides in states with the highest and lowest rates of gun ownership from 2001 to 2005. States with the highest rates of gun control had 16,577 firearms by suicide while the number for states with the lowest rates of gun control was 4,257. The number of non-firearm suicides were the same for both. Overall, the states with the highest rates of gun ownership were seen to have almost double the number of suicides than low-rate states. It must be said here, that this simply shows a correlation between gun ownership and higher suicide rates. Other factors might play into these statistics and therefore there is no 100 percent guarantee that less guns will lead to less suicide. However, the data is statistically significant enough for the US to implement stricter gun control laws to at least attempt decreasing suicide rates.
Change is necessary. We must act now to target the issue of guns in America. Stricter gun control policies are a viable solution that our country needs to take advantage of to decrease homicide and suicide rates. _______________________________________________________
There is a mass shooting – defined as four or more people shot in one incident – nearly every day in the United States. Check out this infographic from the Guardian compiled with data from the crowd-sourced website ShootingTracker.com.