An Alternate Solution to Gun Violence
With midterms approaching, Capitol Hill is in a frenzy. Former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman is currently releasing a series of over two hundred videos and recordings meant to further tarnish the Trump Administration’s reputation among the American people. Former CIA Director John Brennan had his security clearance revoked by President Trump, consequently, a wave of criticism from multiple officials has washed over the Oval Office. Alongside all the chaos swirling through Washington, one could forget an issue that was so prominent only a few months ago: gun violence.
In the wake of the Parkland shooting, Stoneman Douglas students as well as activists across the nation came together and said that enough was enough; gun violence had taken too many lives in America. The fierce polarity that split the United States came when a solution needed to be called upon. Gun control advocates proposed “common sense gun reform”, or a set of laws intended to regulate the use and ownership of firearms. Gun rights advocates formulated a new idea to curb violence in schools, by allowing guards and/or teachers to conceal carry on campus.
Solving one of the most controversial problems in America requires divergent thinking. Before I elaborate, perhaps I must rebuke the two other options. Gun violence is a case–by–case basis. There is no one way that gun violence occurs, similar to how a vehicle accident has various causes. In terms of gun control, many proposals of legislation are rather irrelevant, focus on the wrong issue or are driven purely by the fact that they sound like the “Right thing to do”. According to the Century Foundation, 15 mass shootings happened between 1994 and 2004. From 1982 to 1994, 19 mass shootings occurred. That means an average of 1.5 mass shootings a year occurred both before and after Bill Clinton passed the 10-year AR-15 ban of 1994. While mass shootings are a frequently contested statistic, it is worth noting. And as stated by multiple state government sites, a background check and/or permit can end up costing a person an average or more than $300. Gun rights activist John Lott claims that these prices act as a tax for lower class Americans, and prevent the poorer people of the country from a right to arm themselves. If citizens are having to pay to express their right to bear arms then that directly infringes on their rights. Let’s not, however, forget the flaws in a Pro-Gun world. In a survey by the National Education Association, 82 percent of teachers would not want a gun in any classroom of their school, while 63 percent of gun-owning teachers are uncomfortable with possessing a firearm in the classroom. While it is the teachers choice whether or not they choose to carry, arming teachers seems to be the unpopular demographic, and any sort of law proposing that teachers should have the right to arm themselves has only been passed in one of the twenty-five attempts. Concealed carry laws have also caused a heated debate in the community, with multiple prominent health journals pointing to times where state “shall-issue” concealed carry laws have both directly decreased firearm crime as well as caused unease among the American public due to the rapid increase in firearm sales.
Rather than looking at guns as the problem or solution, I prefer to take a more conservative-minded approach and suggest that the solution relies on the people. In 2016, the CDC reported 38,658 gun-related deaths. About two-thirds of those deaths were suicides. What gun legislation can possibly stop is to prevent the person from purchasing the firearm, the problem with this is the majority of these guns are bought legally and taken from a parent or legal guardian. Mental health has been stigmatized during talks of gun violence prevention, which encourages possible victims to not get the necessary care in fear that they will not be able to purchase a gun and/or face undeserved judgment for their issues. The president has addressed the topic of mental health on multiple occasions, even injecting $8.6 billion into the Department of Veterans Affairs and making room for an extra $1 million in the Children’s Mental Health Services program in his proposed 2019 budget. Despite these efforts, it is important to mention Donald Trump cut over half a billion dollars from the budget of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The White House and Congress should be obligated to respond to the ongoing mental health crisis in America. If Congress acts, and resources become more accessible, we could see a sharp decline in specifically gun-related suicides.
Another 20% of deaths come from homicides where the victims are young men between 15 and 34, in which 88% of deaths and violence are a result of gang violence in urban areas. New Orleans has already committed to fixing the gang-related violence in the city by using their police databases to track down young men with multiple felonies and weapon seizures, and approaching them personally. The problem with this is that it will take a long time, and lots of money to complete. State and local governments have failed to find a way to mitigate gang violence. This is becoming a federal issue that may only be fixed with the creation of a new law. The particular demographic of young urban males without two parents is twenty times as vulnerable to crime or prison. The last major group of gun violence casualties lies in domestic violence victims, who make up over ten percent of the deaths. Police need to act swiftly and decisively on reports of domestic abuse, and funding needs to be put towards creating a “cushion” for abuse victims, whether that be financially or emotionally, who may not be able to leave their abuser because they cannot support themselves.
Now solving these problems does not end gun violence, and addressing them will not end suicides, gang violence, or domestic abuse. Yet those specific social issues make up a vast majority of gun deaths, and making an effort to solve them may do the American people much better than a sweeping assault rifle ban or concealed carry laws.
Noah Giglietti is a Lead Contributor at theDailyLead.