By: PETER ELLISON
In light of recent events all around the country, it’s hard to ignore the constant debate over gun ownership. One never needs to look far to identify acts of violence that shock and horrify the nation: Las Vegas, the Pulse nightclub, Sandy Hook.
Unfortunately, gun deaths from mass shootings are just a single drop in a large ocean of gun violence. Many regulations commonly supported by proponents of gun control would have little to no effect on the thousands of people injured and killed by violent crime every year.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, in 2015 there were 25,000 gun related injuries with about 12,000 of those being deaths, not including suicides. In the same year, according to a Washington Post article, there were 39 deaths from mass shootings, or about 0.325 percent of all shooting deaths.
The recent Las Vegas shooting has resulted in some change; a bipartisan bill has been created by Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) and Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) banning bump-stocks, devices used to convert semi-automatic rifles into near-full machine guns, although the bill’s future is still unclear.
Amazing progress, right?
Unfortunately, no. The Department of Justice statistics reveal 70 to 80 percent of gun victims in 2015 were attacked with handguns, not rifles. That bump-stock bill isn’t protecting the masses, just the outliers.
Congress is like a dog chasing its own tail: putting out tons of effort to make laws responding to mass shootings, but doing little to nothing to actually help the thousands suffering from ordinary gun violence.
So what has Congress done to address this much larger issue?
Mainly they’ve instituted a system of background checks on potential gun buyers. This system uses a database of dangerous or mentally unstable individuals that aren’t allowed to buy guns and has prevented about 3 million gun sales so far, says the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
However, this system does not actually accomplish what it aims to. In a 2015 study done by Philip Cook from Northwestern University, it was discovered that “guns confiscated from gang members in Chicago found … about 3 percent of the adults had obtained their guns from a [Federal Firearms License] in a formal transaction.”
Similarly, in 2008 the Washington Post reported that 79 percent of criminals in Pittsburgh were carrying guns that didn’t belong to them.
It should be apparent that background checks on gun buyers have failed to stop violent criminals from obtaining guns, which is their “goal.” This failure extends not only to cities, but around the country.
Jeff Colon, 16-year Deputy Sheriff for the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office says, “As with most regulations … most responsible, law-abiding people are the only ones who are truly affected by the regulations. Criminals tend to acquire whatever they need, whenever they need it, despite any kind of regulation.”
Ordinarily, regulations on gun control that actually do something would be great. There would be no objection to them on my part. Background checks? Love em’. Gun bans? Heck yeah.
But that’s not what’s occurring. The regulations being passed aren’t stopping the violence. They’re doing nothing to stop the real gun violence occurring in America.
Right now, we’re giving away our freedoms for empty promises and no real results, which is exactly why, as an American people, we need to start looking at real solutions to this epidemic of gun violence, not just ones that feel good.