To Ban or Not to Ban? Gun Control: Fact and Fiction

Gun control is one of those controversial topics that always sets people on one side or the other. However, in recent news, it appears that the entire conversation has only truly favored arguments not based on facts and realism, but based on misconception and emotion. Key answers to many of the problems have been suppressed in the talking shuffle by multiple media outlets. Therefore, many gun control advocates questions are not truly picked or prodded in fine detail. This piece will try to provide that fine detail and fill the many gaps that are left wide open (And no, I am not a member of the NRA or any other or organization bent on preserving and protecting the people’s right to bear arms). A key term used in the debate by gun control advocates is the term “Assault Weapon”. Though it is termed by both the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms as being a semi-automatic firearm that accepts detachable box magazines, the term generally doesn’t make any sense. Anything used to hurt or maim a person could technically be defined as an “assault weapon”, and gives little insight into what they wish to ban. Moreover, it just shows a general lack of research on the subject of firearms, a common issue I will present throughout this piece. It is essential for both the media and gun control advocates to carefully research, not only on factual statistical data but also the correct firearm terminology before proposing a debate. Otherwise terms such as “Assault Clips” will continue to be used and will keep mudding the waters. Even the term “Assault Rifle” is misused to describe firearms such as the AR-15 (AR stands for Armalite, the company which first produced the AR-15. It’s not an “automatic rifle” as is often misstated) and any other firearm which shares cosmetic features with firearms used in service by militaries. Even the civilian AR-15 has more in common with the Ruger mini-14, a semi-automatic rifle the fires the same cartridge, but cosmetically features a traditional rifle stock, than it does with its military counterpart the M4a1. The true definition of an assault rifle is a select-fire firearm capable of fully automatic fire, meaning a single trigger pull produces multiple shots without any further manual reloading of the gun. Such weapons are already highly regulated, and are not the type used in modern mass shootings.

Another argument proposed by anti-gun proponents is that the amount of gun crime in the United States is a justifiable reason to implement gun control; however, what are the facts and statistics behind this argument? One term used frequently in the argument is “gun violence”, a term used to estimate the total number of deaths caused by firearms. However, this term is a manipulation of statistics and data to conceal the entire truth about “gun violence”. In 2016 it was purported by the CDC that over 36,000 people died of “gun violence”, of those however, 2/3 were suicides and nearly 85% of all of these deaths were committed using handguns – not rifles. In fact, the number of deaths caused by rifles has fallen in the past few years compared to that of handguns. Many would possibly take this opportunity to use this statistic to try and ban handguns, however, it would be hard to do that as most of the guns in these homicides were either stolen or outsourced by large gun running networks that span from the Philippines all the way to Russia. Another reason is the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller case, where it was determined that citizens have the constitutional right to own a handgun.

Now, the overall argument pertaining to firearms is whether or not, if implemented in the United States, it would decrease gun violence. The answer would need both a historical and realistic understanding of how supply and demand works regarding the world of crime as well as the black market. Prohibition during the 1920’s outlawed the sale of alcohol within the United States, and to bypass this, many bootleggers and moonshiners doubled their sales using the black market, producing a lot of liquor and selling it for double because of the supply and the demand. This situation surged again during the ‘70’s and ‘80’s when the United States declared the war on drugs and, three decades later, we still are seeing the effects of both the conflict and the drugs that persistently destroy society. If the current war on drugs has killed over an estimated 200,000 people, you could only imagine how many countless deaths would be attributed to a war on guns. Another detail that might not be accounted for is how easy it is to produce makeshift firearms to use as a substitute until an individual gets access to better firearms. In places such as the Philippines, it has been common practice for poor families to get into the underground business of manufacturing firearms just by using hand tools and metal scrap from junk yards. An even stronger example of this is within the Pakistani Bazaar of Darra Adam Khel, a place where the surrounding unruled tribal region has birthed a long culture of firearms manufacturing that dates all the way back to the British presence in the region. These gun makers are very skilled at creating firearms that at first glance would seem to look like they were factory made originals. What these examples prove is that even if gun control were implemented, it is very hard to stop the production of something which is recyclable. In the large world we live in, it is very hard to find the facts without them being doctored and/or filtered to make a specific argument seem like it’s just “common sense”. However, the facts should be brought up and not cherry-picked or filtered facts, but as much of a full picture as possible to make sure that both sides are arguing their points in a way that does not in anyway manipulate data to further their agenda.

 

Links to some of the research sources can be found here and here. An Associated Press video on illegal gun manufacturing in the Cebu Province of the Philippines can be found here.

What are your thoughts on the gun control debate? Please feel free to comment below.

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