In order to set the stage for this discussion, there are a few points of background information that need to be presented. First off, Americans need to realize that the United States is NOT experiencing a gun violence epidemic. In fact, the number of homicides as a result of gun violence has drastically decreased since 1993. According to the Pew Research Center, “Between 1993 and 2000, the gun homicide rate dropped by nearly half, from 7.0 homicides to 3.8 homicides per 100,000 people.” Since 2000, the gun homicide rate has remained fairly consistent, falling further in 2009 and remaining flat since then. These figures don’t account for gun-related suicides, however, if one sincerely desires to kill themselves, I doubt that gun control will be a preventative factor. Therefore, such figures make it difficult to argue that the United States is experiencing a gun-violence epidemic.
Secondly, considering the statistics on gun-related homicides, why do many Americans continue to believe that the number of gun-related homicides have increased? There are two parts to this answer: increased emotional appeal on behalf of the media and the preconceived notion that gun control is a necessary policy. Whenever a mass shooting occurs, the media focuses on the motive and background of the shooter, unintentionally providing the killer with a few moments of infamy. As the dust begins to settle, the focus turns to guns, which quickly become the political scapegoat for the incident. Instead of holding people accountable for their actions, idealistic politicians attempt to further a long-desired political agenda. The media is quick to join in to instill fear into the hearts and minds of its viewership. As a result, it is natural that people have the preconceived notion that gun control is a necessary policy measure.
Regardless of how one feels about gun control, it is important to realize that gun control, in itself, isn’t the problem. The idea that we need gun control to solve a much deeper underlying issue is the problem. Gun control activists, as pure as their intentions may be, feed into the idea that individuals are not responsible for their own actions. Unfortunately, this idea is becoming increasingly prevalent in our society. We have become a society that has complete disdain for personal responsibility. We come up with excuses as to why we we should never be faulted. We look for others upon whom we can place the blame. We are constantly told that we “deserve” things. Instead of standing up and taking responsibility for our actions, we are raised to believe that we are not personally responsible for our position in life. There is always someone, or something, else to blame. Unfortunately, society encourages such behavior.
How does this relate to gun control? It’s simple. Gun control is a reflection of society’s disdain for personal responsibility. As cliché as it may be, the old adage “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” sums up the idea individuals are ultimately responsible for their actions. However, instead of blaming the shooter for his actions, we are always quick to blame the gun. Instead of focusing on justice, we focus on the inanimate object that was used to perform the act of terror. We blame violent acts on the accessibility of guns and fail to realize that it is evil that compels individuals to commit such acts of violence. As long as we continue to blame guns for acts that are perpetrated by individual action, we will fail to prevent future tragedies.
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