In 2021 there have been over 100 mass shootings in America alone. While the term ‘mass shooting’ has different definitions,The Gun Violence Archive maintains that a mass shooting is an incident where four or more people are killed (not including the shooter) at the same time or place. There have been more mass shootings during the first quarter of this year than in 2018, 2019 and 2020. These most notably include a shooting in a Boulder, Colorado grocery store where the gunman killed 10 people; and the killing of eight people, including six Asian women, at three spas in Atlanta, Georgia. These horrendous attacks have once again sparked conversations about the future of the Second Amendment. And while America does have a gun problem, repealing the Second Amendment is not the answer. Not to mention, it’s politically impossible.
Many proponents of gun control argue that the Second Amendment was created to protect the rights of state militias, not those of individuals to bear arms. However, the constitutional interpretation of the Second Amendment has been widely contested. By the end of the 20th century the NRA and leading liberal law professors advocated for the Second Amendment to be formally interpreted as an individual right. This 2008 shift has led to calls for the Second Amendment’s repeal, and while the odds of it actually happening are slim to none, it does virtually nothing to impact the actual issue of gun violence.
In today’s interpretation of the Second Amendment there is nothing that blocks Congress from passing legislation to strictly regulate the trade and possession of firearms. Not to mention, Democrats have been pushing the same “common sense” gun control policies for 25 years. And while the phrase “thoughts and prayers” in a tweet can jumpstart a political career, the words feel empty when it comes to curbing the gun violence epidemic in America. The same goes for universal background checks, red flag laws and a ban on assault-style weapons. But, it’s clear that America has too many guns.
Not only does the United States have a staggering lead in terms of gun-related homicides compared to any other developed nation, it’s six times that of Canada and 16 times as many as Germany. Additionally, the US makes up less than five percent of the world’s population while owning about 45 percent of privately owned firearms, according to the Small Arms Survey. Economist Richard Florida found a correlation between states with stricter gun control laws and fewer gun-related deaths, hence a strong indication that restricted access to guns has the potential to save lives.
Many Americans do support proposals for gun control, but these propositions are often convoluted by politicians and other pundits who claim that they are “trying to take away your guns” when that’s simply not the case. Nonetheless, these arguments block legislation from being passed and more preventable deaths occur.
On Thursday, April 8 President Joe Biden proposed the most progressive gun-control agenda of modern presidents in the form of six executive actions to fight an “epidemic and an international embarrassment” of gun-related violence. While gun control advocates applaud Biden’s ambition, more must be done. This includes Everytown’s push for Biden to take executive action on expanding background checks to “ghost guns,” or homemade firearms that lack serial numbers that are used for tracing and often don’t require background checks for their purchase. Biden has also announced his support for a ban on assault weapons stating that “It was the law for the longest time. And it brought down these mass killings. We should do it again.”
Conversations regarding gun control are currently on the hotseat, but it likely won’t be long before they are placed on the backburner once again. Although more modest forms of gun control have failed in the past, no laws that effectively remove guns from Americans’ hands are going to pass anytime soon. Regardless, a conversation that discusses the necessity, practicality and safety of the ownership of firearms in the US has to start somewhere.