There is a constant debate about gun control progress in the US. It’s our right to be able to defend ourselves, but what happens when those guns fall into the wrong hands? The hands of people with ill intent, the hands of desperate people, or the hands of children.
Recent studies in social sciences have shown that guns are more often used in committing crimes, than in self-defense. Out of 150 scientists, most agree that strict gun control laws reduce homicide (71%) and that more permissive gun laws favor crime (62%).
Moreover, Professor David Hemenway from Harvard’s School of Public Health says that gun owners are more vulnerable to danger, that they’re more likely to be victims of suicide, homicide, or even domestic abuse. These facts run contrary to the popular belief as 63% of Americans feel safer with a gun inside the house.
What should be of great concern is the general attitude towards the subject. When a tragedy happens, politicians, social activists, journalist and public figures all start making noise, trying to find a solution, an explanation or a way to manage the problem.
When time passes and things die down, or a specific person is brought to justice, everyone stops talking about it until the next national tragedy occurs.
Denver, July 2012, James Holmes opened fire in a movie theater, killing 12 people and injuring 70 others. The public was taken by fear, grief, disbelief, and so the gun control debate was brought to light once more. Five months later, another gunman killed 20 children and 6 adults at an elementary school in Connecticut, and the debate caught fire on a national level.
Now that James Holmes’ trial has started, the gun debate in Colorado is all but forgotten. Instead, Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli says that what seems to be on everyone’s mind is Ferguson’s police shooting, one of the most recent gun related tragedies. There is however no talk of how to prevent such events in the future.
For a moment, things looked like they were changing after the theater shooting – in 2013 Democrats passed new laws requiring universal background checks and banning shops that held more than 15 rounds, gun control advocates were happy, then gun rights supporters had their say and two state senators who supported the measures were recalled.
But even though gun supporting senators were voted out in regular elections, gun control was rarely brought up in political campaigns in 2014, and just this year Republicans tried to roll back the new gun laws. They failed due to only controlling one of the two state legislative houses.
Progress is being made, however it’s slow moving and in small steps. Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York, vowed to keep the problem in the public’s attention by spending $50 million in favor of gun control.
Just last year his group, Everytown for Gun Safety, won a ballot fight in Washington to establish background checks for every gun owner in the country, and this year’s Democrat-dominated Oregon legislature is close to approving universal background checks. Six other states, including Colorado, have adopted universal background checks since Newtown.
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