The Constitution grants Americans numerous rights and freedoms and the right to own a gun is one of them. The issue of sales and control of weapon has always been ardently discussed. Nowadays, guns-related issues are a subject of constant discussion in the media because of the accidents they have caused in the recent years. Gun legislation in the USA has a loophole because of which private sellers may not perform background checks on their customers. This legal imperfection has already caused many deaths. Moreover, individuals who sell firearms are not charged because it is rather difficult to cross the numerical threshold, which will presuppose firearms dealing business existence. Since gun control and sales became such a growing concern in the society, the President Barack Obama announced a new gun control order. This paper will look closely at the statistics showing gun sales, as well as the accidents related to the issue and measures suggested for improving weapon policy. It will also analyze the new gun control order suggested by Barack Obama and its possible influence on the situation in the United States.
Gun Related Situation in America
Statistically speaking, there are 300 million personal firearms, 105 million rifles, 83 million shotguns, and 106 million handguns in the United States. It means that there is one gun per every American. It makes the US a country with the highest civilian weapon ownership in the whole world. Men have always been more likely to own a gun than women have. However, in the recent years, since the weapon is widely advertised as a means of self-defense and protection, women in the USA started buying firearms more actively. Moreover, according to the statistics, white people are more likely to bear arms than the black ones; elderly are more prone to purchase a gun than youngsters; residents of the countryside are more likely to buy a weapon than city dwellers. All these acts give an approximate picture of legal gun ownership in the USA. There is one more piece of statistical data that also needs to be mentioned. Guns are killing approximately 30 thousand people per year. It is an astonishing number of lives lost. If this number is diminished at least slightly, some families will not have to live through a tragedy they would have to otherwise.
There are multiple rules the citizens of the United States must obey when buying a gun. In most states, carry permits are issued to everyone who purchases a weapon. This document is supposed to allow the government to further track the purchased gun. However, this permit is not required in all of the states. Moreover, there is no formal process of revoking this document. The age at which a person can buy a weapon depends on its type. For instance, shotguns are easier to purchase than rifles and handguns. The reason is simple – the former are used primarily for hunting purposes. Moreover, all states are divided into “hard” and “easy” ones based on the strictness of regulations concerning guns. The former require citizens to attend a weapon safety class before buying a gun. The latter do not have any specialized training required before purchasing firearms.
In the United States, guns are viewed as the most effective means of self-defense. They are supposed to give people a sense of security, but, in fact, they are only a reaction to their insecurity. In the United States, the weapon is viewed as a tool that is supposed to give people at least a fighting chance in case of violent attack. What people often forget is the fact that firearms do not discriminate between criminals and innocent bystanders. The Supreme Court has long ago declared gun ownership for life protection to be one of the fundamental rights of citizens. It has to be added that this right is successfully exercised by between one-third and one-half of Americans (The White House Office of the Press Secretary, 2016). Minimum age of firearm possession in the USA is 18 (The White House Office of the Press Secretary, 2016). It makes the country one of the youngest armed nations. It should be noted that guns are estimated to have killed more American citizens than all wars waged by the USA in Vietnam, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan
Gun-ownership supporters have always emphasized numerous reasons why Americans should have the right to bear arms. However, if at the beginning, they referred to it as a basic human right granted by the Constitution, now they changed their argumentation. These days, gun allies state that weapon ownership is some sort of citizen’s duty. According to them, it not only can help an average American to defend himself from the terrorists and criminals but also against the government tyranny. After San Bernardino shooting, people were asked whether it would be a good countermeasure to impose a stricter ban on gun sales. Shockingly, more than 40 percent of American citizens expressed an opinion that every citizen had to be allowed to have a protective weapon at home rather than dispose of them completely (The White House Office of the Press Secretary, 2016). Statistics has also shown that 70 percent of the arms supporters were Republicans, and only 26 percent – Democrats. This fact again proves that there is still a big political divide on this issue (The White House Office of the Press Secretary, 2016).
The risks of keeping guns at home are not considered properly. Some people may claim that the presence of a safe storage in the house keeps weapon owners protected. However, even in case it is kept in a specifically designed place, to which only the owner has a key, it does not restrict criminals from stealing it. According to statistics, between 2005 and 2010, there were more than 1.4 million items of weapon appropriated in the United States. Another issue related to keeping guns at home is that very often they may be used during quarrels. Money issues, alcohol intoxication or love triangles may cause an argument, which may further turn into a fight. If there is a gun in the house, the quarrel may result in death. Women often endure domestic abuse, and their suffering is only exacerbated if their partner owns a weapon. It has been estimated that five women are killed every day by their partner in the United States. The presence of children may also lead to bloodshed if parents store a gun in the house. Youngsters often accidentally get lethally injured because of playing with the weapon.
Reasons why people possess guns have changed significantly. While in the past Americans viewed weapon primarily as a means of protection against intruders or hunting tool, now they turn to weapon because of terrorism and mass shootings. After the 9\11 attacks, many people started feeling unsafe and began buying guns to feel a false sense of security. Mass shootings, which are in the media all the time, not only psychologically damage families, but also cause outrage and desire to revenge. Thousands of men decided to buy guns to have a chance to protect their children when the need arises. It has to be also mentioned that a huge number of people buying firearms have mental illnesses. These individuals often commit suicides or homicides, and gun serves as a useful tool to do this.
Republicans and Democrats have two very different positions on the issue of gun control. The former claim that every American citizen has to have the right to obtain and store ammunition without any prior registration. Republicans also ardently protest against gun licensing and want the government to provide more land for hunting. The Democrats have an entirelly different stance. They consider that the right to bear arms is to be regulated, and gun control has to be strengthened. They consider that such measures may help reduce firearm-related violence. Democrats also support a complete ban of the assault weapon.
Gun Rights and Control by President Obama
President Obama has recently emphasized that the importance of gun ownership differs from state to state and even from town to town. According to him, a person living on a remote farm far away from sheriff’s office might feel the need to own some weapon for protection. An individual living in a big city, where murders happen frequently, might also feel the need to possess a gun to feel safer. President Obama suggests increasing the quantity of gun sales, which, in turn, will trigger more background checks (Obama’s new push for tougher gun control, 2016). Mentally ill people purchasing a gun, as well as Americans with criminal record attempting to buy one, will be identified. The president states that in such a way, “good guys” will not be limited in their rights to buy guns, but some “bad guys” will think twice before doing it. He also suggests spending more on the treatment of the mentally ill people (Obama’s new push for tougher gun control, 2016). It is important to outline that President Obama does not aim at diminishing the Second Amendment in any way. The only thing he strives for is to keep guns out of criminals’ hands (The White House, 2013). The president strongly believes that background checks may prove to be helpful in diminishing gun-related violence. He argues that all businesses selling firearms have to be licensed and conduct these checkups (The White House, 2013). Another aspect Obama suggests is to extend access of people involved in background checks to health care system. He considers that more often than not a disease is at the root of the problem with gun violence. The president also favors the idea of research into gun safety technology. The availability of smart innovations in this area may prevent multiple cases of weapon-related violence (The White House Office of the Press Secretary, 2016).
Gun control approach suggested by the president is already criticized by the firearms ownership supporters. In particular, they claim that this policy will disarm “good guys” while “bad guys” will only ignore it. It is a well-known fact that criminals by definition do not follow any laws. They also emphasize that mass shootings are not happening because of guns but because of mentally ill people who own them. Gun supporters also stress that it would have been better to pay more attention to the already existing gun laws than to pass new regulations. According to the most recent statistics, more Americans support gun rights than gun control. Numerically, the former constitute 52 percent while the latter – 46 percent of citizens (The White House Office of the Press Secretary, 2016). Growing public support for gun rights at the time when weapon-related crimes actually decreased can be explained by the nature of news coverage as well as reality TV stories. Also, there may be a connection between this trend and current political rhetoric of the Republicans, who became more supportive of gun rights during Obama’s presidency. Nevertheless, it has to be stated that public opinion is what matters in further changes to the gun policy in the USA.
Gun Sales Statistics and Facts
It has been reported that 2015 has seen a considerable increase in gun sales. Statistically speaking, background checks for weapon purchases and permissions to own a weapon increased by 10 percent. Black Friday of 2015 has witnessed an unprecedented surge in gun purchase. It has already been called the biggest weapon-buying day. December 2015 was a month with the highest rate of background checks. However, these facts are not surprising if to consider what event may have caused them. San Bernardino shooting is one of the most recent examples of gun violence, which was covered by the media. This tragedy, which led to deaths of innocent children, was followed by calls for gun control; at the same time, it caused an increase in weapon sales in the United States. Another thing, which can be stated without a doubt, is that interest for concealed carrying of the weapon has reached very high levels.
A general tendency that could be observed in 2015 is that the quantity of households owning guns is either flat or moving downwards. However, this trend may be seen in times when no violent events are happening in the country. Background checks are still not effective to the fullest. Around 40 percent of weapon in the United States is purchased without any prior checkup. Another striking fact is that merely 0.6 percent of those who undergo background check fail it (The White House Office of the Press Secretary, 2016).
Gun control is serving a great purpose, but not all people understand it. The USA is a country where there is still a big divide between people on the topic of bearing arms. There are those that support the ban of weapon, those who consider it unreasonable in such a dangerous time, and those who want guns to be allowed but strictly regulated. The sales of guns and their popularity rise every time a mass shooting or homicide happens. Therefore, it is difficult to implement any change into the Second Amendment. Nevertheless, Barack Obama’s attempt to impose a stricter control over weapon in the United States may prove to be successful in a couple of years. Americans are just starting to realize what danger guns pose to their lives and how important a new approach to bearing arms is.