Gun violence results in thousands of injuries and deaths annually. In the United States, it is estimated that over 283 million guns are in the hands of civilians. Each year, over 4.5 million firearms are sold in the country (Kaplan 1). The average number of guns per individual seems to be on the rise with time. More than 30, 000 people are killed by guns in the country annually. Half of them are between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five. Homicide has been established as the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 years (Yuhas 1). Gun violence is more prevalent in poor urban areas that are characterized by the presence of gang violence. This usually involves young adult males or male juveniles. Though mass shootings have been covered widely in the media, they actually account for a small percentage of gun related deaths. There are also incidences of suicides that involve guns. People find it as an essay way to execute the act.
The status quo is not acceptable. As we mourn the lives of people killed in various gun-related acts of violence across the nation, we ought to take action. Part of the healing process must be the conviction that people will do everything in their power to prevent such tragedies from happening. There ought to be new answers that are likely to address the problem at hand. This is because some of the mechanisms implemented in the past do not seem to work.
Among the ways that gun violence can be curbed is by improving the mental health care. This would mean that there is accessibility to high quality and competent mental health treatment to all relevant individuals across the country. Prospects of gun ownership in the country have been on the rise in recent years. However, mental health services seem to have been slashed (Kaplan 1). Mental health needs are known to be associated with various actions that would not be deemed as being appropriate. Most of the individuals suffering from mental health are not in the right frame of mind to understand when they are being involved in such activities.
As a result, there is need to improve treatment for people suffering from serious mental health issues like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. There ought to be increased availability of beds for patients with psychiatric issues. This approach would prevent the people suffering from mental health issues from becoming violent, and it will also ensure that more people are obtaining mental health treatment (Yuhas 1). As a result, they will not be driven to purchase guns. Most mental related issues can be easily treated when identified in the early stages. It would mean that the people involved do not advance to levels of violence. Though this move would not help to solve a large number of gun violence incidences, it would still play a substantial part.
Tightening restrictions on gun sales would also act as a favorable way of reducing gun violence. There exist several loopholes in the background check systems that allow people with mental health issues or criminal records to purchase guns. The loopholes in the federal law allow gun dealers to make legal sales without the need of exercising due diligence on the background check for the people purchasing the guns (Yuhas 1). A good example is how a gun purchased from a private individual or over the internet is not subject to background check. This is because neither of the instances involves licensed gun sellers.
The recent gun-related legislation that seemed likely to make it through Congress was the 2013 bill sponsored by Pat Toomey, Sens. Joe Manchin, and D-West Virginia (Kaplan 1). The bill did not attract enough support, so it died on the Senate floor. This is an indication of how the Congress has shown no appetite on issues to do with the introduction of background checks. This is something that ought to be addressed with great concern. The public usually elects politicians so that they can serve them in a variety of ways. Based on this fact, it is upon the Congress to take action and pass legislation that allows for thorough background checks on issues involving the purchase of guns. This will help reduce the prospect of guns falling into undesirable hands. In the long-run, it will help reduce gun violence hence ensure the security of the public.
Conducting gun violence research could also play a significant role in reducing gun violence. The 1996 budget amendment prevents Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from using public funds in an attempt of executing research on gun violence. The past 20 years have seen leadership from both Republicans and Democrats, but the Congress has repeatedly renewed the ban. The main reason behind this is that Congress feels that this would be a move towards gun control.
This is something that sounds funny on the face of it. United States spends over a trillion dollars and also devotes agencies to help prevent terrorist attacks in the country. Yet, the Congress blocks even the mere collection of data that would potentially help reduce gun deaths. How could that even be? The Congress needs to be open-minded on this issue. Sometimes gun accidents occur because people are doing something in a manner that it is not supposed to be done. However, due to lack of this knowledge, it is usually difficult to educate the public. When the causes of something are known, it becomes easier to find a solution. There is no way a solution can be derived for something that is not known. It is upon the Congress to take action and lift the ban placed on conducting research into gun violence (The Times Editorial Board). This will contribute to reducing this problem.
Establishment of a culture of gun safety would also help in reducing gun violence. United States is the nation with most guns in the world. Based on this fact, measures should be taken to ensure that people have been protected. To begin with, there should be a mandatory training and licensing for people being involved with guns. This should also accommodate safe and secure gun storage. The training should not be a one-time affair. It should be something continuous. Individuals that own guns should renew their permits and refresh their training on a regular basis. The requirements should be as stringent as the ones governing renewal of driver’s license. The practice will ensure that people are well equipped with the Dos and DON’Ts when it comes to the use of firearms (Yuhas 1). This will ensure that gun accidents that result in both injuries and death have been eliminated.
Gun trafficking should be regarded as a federal crime in the quest of trying to reduce gun violence. There should also be an increase in penalties that are subjected to “straw-man” sales whereby an individual buys a gun with the intent of delivering it to a third party. Gun traffickers tend to move guns from states that have weak gun laws into states with stronger regulations. The moment this is regarded as a federal crime, it might become less appealing to most people involved due to the inherent risk. This would mean that the trafficking prospects have been minimized hence reducing the probability of guns falling into the wrong hands. On the aspect of straw-man purchases, the Justice Department should ensure that they prosecute offenders aggressively (The Times Editorial Board 1). Once a precedent has been set, other people that were likely to perpetrate the crime are deterred due to the fear of the consequences.
Enhancement of safe communities would also go a long way into ensuring that gun violence has been reduced. This would be attained by supporting citywide planning and implementation for comprehensive violence prevention plans. The plans should include prevention, enforcement, intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry. Communities ought to have the necessary resources that would help prevent killings, shootings and violence. This is both in the short-run and long-run. The government should be involved in helping the community identify and implement solutions. This would go a long way in reducing gun violence.
In conclusion, gun violence has been a menace in United States. The measures being taken are not sufficient to help in its eradication. The Congress does not support most actions that would be very beneficial in dealing with this issue. There are various ways that can help reduction of gun violence such as improving mental health care, tightening restrictions on gun sales, conducting gun violence research, establishment of a culture of gun safety, making gun trafficking a federal crime and enhancement of safe communities.
Kaplan, Rebecca. “After San Bernardino Shooting, 5 Ways the U.S. Could Reduce Gun Violence.” CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 4 Dec. 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <http://www.cbsnews.com/news/five-ways-the-us-could-reduce-gun-violence/>.
The Times Editorial Board. “Why Is the United States Such a Gun-happy Society? It’s Time to Find out.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 29 Mar. 2016. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/na-ed-gun-violence-research-20160329- story.html>.
Yuhas, Alan. “Oregon Shooting: Eight Ideas to Help Stop Gun Violence.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 03 Dec. 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/oct/03/oregon-shooting-aftermath-eight- ways-to-stop-gun-massacres-in-the-us>.
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