Guns aren’t the only epidemic in the US


Shoot Beretta Weapon Pistol Hand Gun Youth

It is a common thought in America that if Nikolas Cruz didn’t have a gun, the 17 students in Parkland, Florida wouldn’t have died in February.

After this incident, gun control advocates have been more passionate than ever. United by their hatred of the NRA, some want guns completely gone, while others want stricter background checks, or regulations on gun storage.

But are they directing their anger at the right people?

While there may not be a simple solution that pleases everyone, people looking for gun regulation people are look at the White House to find exactly that.

The U.S., as of 2015, owns 45.88 percent of the world’s guns, but makes up only 4.32 percent of the world’s population. 

Many people think that guns are the leading cause of death in America, but the number of gun-related deaths is a little over half the number of drug overdose deaths and less than the number of deaths from car accidents.

The Second Amendment

South Korea has a total of 79,000 guns (or 0.2 guns per 100 people), all of which are owned by the government and used only sparingly in the military.

To add perspective, the United States has 393,347,000 guns in total and 120.5 guns per 100 people.

Gun control advocates would think that the homicide rate in South Korea would be significantly lower than that of the U.S., and problems like suicide wouldn’t be as prevalent, but almost exactly the opposite is true.

South Korea has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, with 36.1 suicides deaths per 100,000 people in 2015 (according to the World Health Organization).

In the U.S., 19.5 of every 100,000 deaths were caused by suicide.

“Because [guns] are smaller, cheaper, more widely produced and less regulated than other weapons, they are inherently difficult to track,” said The Trace, a website centered around educating the public about gun control.

In addition, many illegal guns are in circulation and easily accessible by criminals. In Chicago, for example, “Gangs may make the process of acquiring illegal guns even easier by stockpiling firearms for leaders to distribute or loan out, and by facilitating introductions to brokers and traffickers,” said The Trace.

Banning all assault-style rifles is a more popular, less extreme solution that many support. However, as The Trace states, “outlawing or heavily regulating such weapons may not have a big effect on the total gun violence rate.”

Furthermore, the recent increase of “ghost guns,” which are guns that are homemade and untraceable, prevents this policy from having much impact.

In an LA Times article, Bill McMullan, a special agent in charge of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives L.A. Field Division, revealed that “Criminals are making their own weapons because they cannot buy them legally … or they are paying other people to make those guns for them to get around the gun laws. This is a trend among Southern California gangs.”

Therefore, simply banning assault-style rifles to prevent mass shootings may not be as effective as it was over a decade ago, when parts weren’t as accessible.

The Trace still argues that banning assault rifles can reduce the number of mass shootings, since “from 1994 to 2004, when the assault weapons ban was on the books, there were 12 gun massacres, resulting in 89 deaths. The ensuing decade had 34 gun massacres, which caused 302 deaths.”

However, this ban will not be as effective and more ghost guns will and have arisen when rifles can’t be legally obtained or simply plucked from houses.


Gun storage regulations

Those who have guns in their homes oftentimes don’t think of the consequences that could occur if someone else got ahold of it.

Rather than making more laws, the best way to combat this issue is to raise awareness. Furthermore, putting guns in safes that aren’t easy to get into renders it useless for when an actual crisis occurs.

It’s likely that gun owners aren’t storing their guns in a safe in the first place, because the law doesn’t require them to or because they need it in an easily accessible place.


Background checks

Simply adding a stricter background check isn’t a foolproof method to combat mental illness patients wanting to purchase a gun.

Akoto Ofori-Atta, senior editor of The Trace, says that the only way a mental health patient can be banned from owning a gun is if they’ve been taken into a mental health institution and then a judge in a courtroom rules that they are not mentally fit enough to own a weapon.

“If Nikolas Cruz had gone through that process, then that would’ve probably triggered his background check and he wouldn’t be able to purchase the gun. But the problem is, as we know, living in everyday life, that’s not how mental illness works. Everyone who’s mentally ill does not go to an institution and then have to go in front of a judge. That’s why despite reports of him being mentally ill or emotionally unstable, it didn’t trigger his background check. It’s not illegal for him to refuse help, the school isn’t legally require to help him either,” she said.

At my school I have access to mental health services on campus. But because not every campus has these facilities, problems can arise.

On Valentines day, after the recent death of his adoptive mother and expulsion from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, mentally ill Cruz made a decision.