Does American have a gun problem? Last year, 40,000 people died across America due to gun-related violence. Some of these deaths were in instances of mass killings, in locations around the country: schools, concert venues, places of worship.
And yet, there still has been no major changes to gun regulation or law over the last decade. Is it possible that gun control isn’t the solution we need?
Gun control arguments get pretty heated in America, with the level of political discourse only increasing since the appointment of President Trump. There are many passionate opinions on each side.
But what exactly stops gun control laws from being passed after tragedy strikes? Read on, and we’ll explore gun control arguments and exactly why it’s so hard to change such laws.
Opinions On Gun Control In America
For years now, gun control has been one of the most fervently debated topics in American culture. Increased competitiveness and distrust within the two-party system has only increased the pitch of such debates.
There are a wide variety of opinions on gun control and the extent to which legislation should be passed. Not all people who are for gun control agree to what extent such control should be established. Not all people against gun control are opposed to more minor legislative changes.
But to establish the argument simply, we’ll walk through some of the most popular reasons for and against gun control.
Reasons Against Gun Control
The main reason many Americans are against gun control is that they believe it is a government-sanctioned removal of their rights. Many view the second amendment as a right to keep as many kinds and varieties of firearms in the home as possible.
Many Americans see their right to a firearm as a safety issue. They feel like they will be vulnerable to danger or unable to protect themselves without a firearm. They believe that the best situation to be in when a “bad guy” has a gun is to be around a “good guy” with a gun.
Some believe in arming teachers at schools to help protect children.
Some gun control disbelievers oppose changes to background checks and gun sale loopholes. Some believe that any kind of gun control legislation will be a slippery slope that leads to more legislation. Many also simply don’t want it to become harder to sell or purchase firearms.
Many who oppose gun control are of the opinion that violence is unavoidable, and to limit access to firearms would only serve to tear people from their best protection.
Reasons For Gun Control
Why gun control? Many would point to the obvious: people keep getting killed. Many gun control advocates cite legislation from Australia and other countries around the world that enacted gun control and saw steep drops in gun-related violence.
Many gun control advocates believe that the second amendment can be changed. When the second amendment was written, the idea of modern firearms was not imaginable. The country was also in the throes of revolution, and the possibility of an attack by a foreign power was a constant threat.
Most gun control advocates suggest that the second amendment should be adjusted to match modern times. This is a highly contested point.
Some who believe in gun control believe in full and complete removal of guns from most homes in the country. But more popular and mainstream gun control beliefs are based on closing purchasing loopholes and requiring more background checks during gun sales.
Some advocates are against the sale of AR-15 and other automatic weapons since these are often used in mass killings.
Popular Gun Control Ideas
Most of America actually does support the idea of some form of gun control. But actual removal of major gun rights does not. Most states are in favor of some form of restriction or regulation.
The major legislative push surrounds the idea of background checks. The proposed legislation would prevent individuals with a criminal past from buying certain kinds of firearms. It would also increase the budget in states to run such background checks more thoroughly.
Many mass shooters in the past few years have had criminal pasts or histories of domestic violence. Preventing the sale of firearms to such individuals could help curb killings.
Legislature also exists proposing a close to the “gun show loophole,” which is a legal hole that allows firearms to be sold online or at gun shows without any kind of background check at all.
In a call for action, President Trump and Florida governor Rick Scott have shown support for raising the age required to buy a firearm from 18 to 21. Most gun rights groups have shown little to no support for the idea.
Another gun control idea revolves around a ban on assault weapons. President Clinton passed such a ban back in 1994, but it expired ten years later and was never renewed. But the use of AR-15s to perform mass killings at a number of locations has renewed debate over banning such weapons.
Many gun owners are highly defensive about the use of AR-15. The assault rifle has a large fan following, with many sales for the AR-15 and the best AR-15 upgrades. Many believe that they have a right to purchase such a rifle. They believe that responsible gun owners should not be punished for the acts of criminals and the mentally ill.
Is Gun Control A Partisan Issue?
Arguments revolving around gun control are frequently split down party lines in the American government. Most Democrats call for some form of gun control while many Republicans are against increasing gun control legislation.
But it’s not a black and white issue. Many Republican senators, including Lindsay Grahm and even President Trump, support some increase in gun regulation. These include banning the sale of firearms to felons and the mentally ill. This position is, however, not supported by the NRA.
Many American citizens who vote Republican believe in opposing gun control passionately. As a result, many in the Republican party have chosen to attempt to carry forward this desire from their constitutes.
Obstacles To Passing Gun Control Legislation
So what is actually so difficult about passing gun control legislation?
Some believe it has something to do with identity groups known as sub-constituencies. Sub-constituencies are groups that share strong beliefs and senses of identification.
These don’t have to be organized or even “official” groups. For example, the National Rifle Association has five million members. But when polled, over 14 million Americans considered themselves members of the NRA.
These groups, though not the majority, are much more passionate and active in advocating for their beliefs than most Americans. Social identification is a powerful tool on both sides of the aisle, and it can be hard to shake people from their beliefs. Such commitment tends to make it hard for legislation to be agreed upon.
Politicians tend to bend towards where strong advocacy is exhibited. These are the groups who will make noise, show up to the polls, and stage protests if their beliefs are not adhered to.
There is a large group of such passionate gun control protestors.
Even though they actually are smaller in size than those who believe in “some” form of regulation, they have a much more uniform, clear, and passionate goal: oppose any and all forms of gun control.
This passionate advocacy can make it very difficult for politicians to push gun control legislation through without much-needed public kickback.
Behind The Scenes Lobbying
Lobbying is a common practice in Washington. Representatives from many industries attempt to enact or prevent policy change in Washington in a variety of ways. Gun control is one such area of policy, and lobbying affects the ease of which legislation is passed.
Many prominent politicians, such as Marco Rubio from Florida, actually receive a huge majority of their campaign contributions from the NRA. Rubio received over one million dollars in support of his re-election campaign from the NRA in 2016.
This is despite several incredibly deadly mass shootings that took place in his state, among many other smaller shootings. Rubio believes that such contributions are simply an example of the commitment he holds to Americans and NRA members.
But such a situation can help to show how passing legislature on gun control can become more difficult at both the state and federal level. Money and power can often be used on both sides of the aisles as a point of persuasion.
Competitive Political Culture
While gun control isn’t a completely partisan issue, the laws have been drawn between the Republicans and the Democrats. In an increasingly competitive political climate, neither side wants to risk a “loss” and lose the support of their constitutes.
As such, it makes any kind of bi-partisan work in the government very difficult. No matter what the issue is, neither side wants to be seen as letting up. This makes it very difficult for solutions to be presented and implemented.
Understanding Gun Control Arguments
If you haven’t yet dipped your toe into the heated debates surrounding gun control, the above summary of issues should serve as a good primer. Gun control arguments are heated and required a nuanced understanding of the issues.
There are many reasons why gun control legislation isn’t passed, and only by understanding the situation can we work towards a solution that works for all Americans.
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