Gun Laws have been the center of controversy for a number of years, from the shooting in 1999 at Columbine to more recent events at Sandy Hook in 2012, San Bernardino in 2015, and the Orlando Shooting in 2016. These mass shootings have given politicians new leverage in the argument that Gun Laws need to be stricter in order to reduce the acts of domestic terrorism that occur, as well as cut down on the amount of crimes committed with firearms overall. Although most see mass shootings as an epidemic in the United States, a closer look into the situations in which most of the gun crime is carried out with a firearm reveal a different story. Though it is much less of a national epidemic then the politicians and main stream media would like many to believe, it does not mean that there is not a serious problem within certain cities in which crimes with firearms are committed. The main objective of the research conducted is to focus on the underlying problems with the amount of violence and murder carried out with the use of Guns in America.
The first aspect that mentioned was pertaining to the mass killings that are carried out in acts of domestic Terrorism. These mass shootings, as devastating as they are, make up a small fraction of the murder and crime committed with firearms annually in the United States. When taking a closer looking into the San Bernardino Shooting in 2015 painting a detailed picture becomes simple. Police Reports as well as “Gun Control: Where Do Criminals Get Their Weapons”, point out that when looking at cases such as the San Bernardino massacre it is evident that the shooter obtained weapons purchased by another individual, not them personally (Cook, 2016). This gives us the blatant fact that the weapons used in the massacre were not legally obtained. The article also goes into explaining that because of the purchaser of the weapons, Marquez, had a clean background and ability to pass the parameters to obtain a firearm for Farook (the person who carried out the shooting) there was no fault on the sellers’ behalf. By following the regulations, they did, they would have never been able to predict that a law abiding citizen was purchasing the weapons for anyone else but himself. Marquez was then charged with a number of crimes including what is called a “straw purchase”, put simply it means, making a purchase of a firearm for the use of someone else other than the purchaser. While looking at the number of murders in 2013, 14,196 people in the United States were killed with a firearm, Mass shootings only attribute to 1% of murders per year (“Analysis Of Mass Shootings”, 2015). Although the occurrence of these crimes is devastating to the families, it not the cause of the majority of gun crime in the United States and must be disregarded when looking at gun laws that effect the rest of the crimes committed.
When taking a closer look at types of crime committed with firearms that do not result in the death of an individual the numbers and information become staggering. An Average of 78,815 persons injured by firearms that did not result in death over the last five years in the United States is cause for serious concern (“Gun Violence by the Numbers”, 2015).Without taking a look into annual and yearly statistics of incidents involving firearms, demographics, and cities in which most of these crimes ensue, we are left with an image that paints the United States population of around 318.9 Million having a 1/4000 chance of being shot in a given year.
While going deeper into the problem of gun inflicted injuries and death in the United States, self-inflicted Injuries and deaths with a firearm are unpredictable but do make up a percentage that is substantional enough for the need of a closer look. The number of suicides in the United States stands at 42,773 annually, with around 21,334 or 50% of those deaths carried out with the use of a fire arm (“Suicide And Self-Inflicted Injury”, 2016). This demographic is not a danger to many others except for the 1% of murders that are mass shootings which result in the shooter committing suicide, gun laws can do little to prevent people with underlying mental health issues that are susceptible to suicide if those mental health issues go unreported. The largest Demographic to commit suicide are Caucasian people whom commit 40% of suicides with the largest age group being ages above 55 years (“Suicide Statistics”, 2014). It is important to note that although they are the largest demographic they are not necessarily using a fire arm to commit suicide. While looking at statistics, women in the United States are far less likely to be injured or killed by a firearm in the, in contrast to suicide numbers women are three more time likely to committed suicide then men when looking at the main ways these acts are carried out (“Suicide Statistics”, 2014). While taking self-inflicted injuries and death by firearms in United States out of the equation, focusing on the crime committed by offenders to another person’s is the most important aspect to consider when regulating gun laws.
After separating demographics that make up smaller portions of the crime and death committed with firearms in the United States, focusing on crimes with firearms that are committed with the intent to injure or kill individual other than the user of the fire arm is the deciding aspect of regulation. While looking at these crimes that are committed, it is important to look at the gun regulations of cities and states where these numbers are focused. Using Chicago as a catalyst because of its Media attention I would like to point out that there are other cities in which more gun violence has ensued, for example Detroit Michigan. Using Chicago because of its growing population and continuous spike in crime, it makes it easy to paint a picture of how communities and cities can continue to grow if we neglect to help the people in them. According to “n. Automatic firearms, short-barreled shotguns, and suppressors are prohibited entirely (FBI, 2016). These statistics and reports from the FBI only give us a fraction of the picture that is being painted, as a lot of these cities in which the gun laws are so strict also make it increasingly difficult to possess a conceal and carry license. Whether mental health issues or prior convictions such as felonies or violent offenses including assaults and in some cases robbery, make it almost impossible to obtain. Included in another study, data that was compiled from 1980 to 2009 reference the likely hood of these crimes committed with a firearm. Results of the study indicate that states with increased sanctions on conceal and carry licenses obtained legally by citizens, had higher gun-related murder rates then states that states in which the licenses were easier to obtain (Expanded Homicide Data 2016).
When looking at cities like Chicago which had the largest spike in murder and shooting occurrence in the nation we can see the problem with the illegally obtained guns in the third largest city in the United States. Although the city as a whole has not seen a major increase in these violent acts committed with a firearm, police agree that pockets of poverty, and gang related areas have carried the largest amount of the incidents. An increase of murder by 72% and shootings of 88% in such a large city is cause for concern even though the South and West sides of Chicago are carrying most of the burden (“Chicago’s murder rate soars 72% in 2016; shootings up more than 88%,” 2016). One way that the Chicago police department has been able to combat the illegally obtained firearms in these areas, is to have an agreement between the American Civil Liberties union and the Police department to change the procedures in which information is filed and organized to focus on these key areas of crime. Since the agreement, officials within the police department have explained that the number of arrests pertaining to firearms has increased incredibly which has shown progress in the violent in pockets around Chicago. Another important piece of information released by the FBI states that “a third of last year’s 10.8% murder increase in the US, the biggest single-year leap in decades, was driven by rising violence in just 10 cities” (The Myth of Chicago’s “Lax” Gun Laws. 2016, September). The increase in crime in these pockets like the south and west side of Chicago is the underlying problem and the crime that can most easily be contained. Studies from these large cities suggest that five out of six felons already in prison for gun related crimes admit, or evidence shows that, the guns obtained were not obtained through a legal process. In most instances these guns were given to them by gang members as gifts or in arrangements/stolen or purchased on a secondary market or black market (How rising violence in just 10 cities drove up the US murder rate. 2016, September). Another Study by gunfacts.info points out that “criminals who may have committed a crime with a weapon do not actually need to obtain licenses or register their weapons, as this would be an act of self-incrimination, a ruling upheld in a case the Haynes. United States case in 1968” (“Gun Violence by the Numbers”, 2015).
Although evidence shows racially profiling people is something that is unconstitutional in the United States, areas in which crime and murder are at national highs compared to other places in the country need to be focused on. In reality concerning murder victims for whom race was known, 50.0 percent were black, 46.0 percent were white as well as, the offenders for whom race was known, 52.4 percent were black, 45.2 percent were white, and 2.4 percent were of other races. The race was unknown for 4,077 offenders (LAWS. 2015). Although the statistics show that crime is committed almost equally among races you must take into account the percentage of the population each race makes up. Racial profiling aside, specific cities and areas in the United States need increased law enforcement as well as leeway with the procedures that they use to combat crime, specifically in areas where the crime committed with firearms are outliers compared to the rest of the country. Without attacking the problems and crimes before they happen all the people in the areas can do is be upset after innocent bystanders are hurt in the process of criminal activity. Statistics recorded by daily news suggest that in Chicago the number of children who have become injured as a result of gang related incidences have shown a steady incline causing concern for more than just the people directly involved in the crime. While crime increases in these pockets, businesses leave, funding continues to be cut, property values continue to decrease and the future generations will have an increasingly hard time escaping the torn communities they are born into. The purpose of stopping the crime committed before it happens is not to single out a specific race or demographic, it is to give the future generations a fighting chance in obtaining the American dream by other means that do not involve criminal activity.
Suicide and Self-Inflicted Injury. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/suicide.htm
Suicide Statistics. (2014). Retrieved from https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/
Chicago Shooting Victims. (2016, November). Chicago Tribune, (), . Retrieved from http://crime.chicagotribune.com/chicago/shootings/
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Greenburg, J. (2015, October). MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough: Tiny fraction of crimes committed with legal guns. MSNBC, (), . Retrieved from http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2015/oct/05/joe-scarborough/msnbcs-joe-scarborough-tiny-fraction-crimes-commit/
How rising violence in just 10 cities drove up the US murder rate. (2016, September). The Guardian, (), . Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/30/us-murder-rate-chicago-fbi-data-police
The Myth of Chicago’s “Lax” Gun Laws. (2016, September). NRA-ILA, (), . Retrieved from https://www.nraila.org/articles/20160916/the-myth-of-chicago-s-lax-gun-laws