As a student at a school of medicine and public health, I felt compelled to write about gun control, especially in light of recent events. The lack of strict gun control in the United States is a public health crisis.
In a recent Time article, Fareed Zakaria eloquently argued for gun control. He reports that the gun homicide rate per capita in the United States is 30 times higher than in Britain and Australia, 10 times higher than in India, and four times higher than in Switzerland! Why is this? Is it possible that the United States has more people that are psychologically debilitated? This seems unlikely. The answer appears to be the number of guns. In the United States there are 88.8 firearms per 100 people compared to 54.8 in Yemen, 45.7 in Switzerland, 45.3 in Finland, and all other countries have fewer than 40. Zakaria also reports that crime in America has significantly decreased in the past few decades with the exception of one category of crime: firearm homicides, whose rate has not changed in the past few decades.
Critics claim that gun control is unconstitutional, namely because it violates the 2nd Amendment’s right to bear firearms. To that, I urge you to consider the initial motivation behind the 2nd Amendment and the ruling by the Supreme Court in United States v. Miller. The actual text of the 2nd Amendment is as follows: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Note the word “militia,” which the Supreme Court explained to mean a group of people enrolled for military discipline, and that when they were called for service they would appear bearing arms supplied by themselves. Therefore, the 2nd Amendment refers to bearing arms in the military intended for the protection of the country, not bearing arms for private purposes. The Supreme Court seriously overstepped when they declared in District of Columbia v. Heller that the 2nd Amendment protects an individual’s right to bear a gun.
Critics also claim that gun control will not decrease gun violence or even violence in general. People will still be able to obtain guns on the black market. Also, there will still be just as much crime, but the only difference is that people will use weapons other than guns. However, this argument is not cogent. Having a gun in the home allows you to act on impulse and to complete an act that you might not have otherwise done. An article in the Journal of Epidemiology reported that people with guns in the home were at a greater risk than those without guns of dying from a homicide in the home. Furthermore, according to an article in the American Journal of Psychiatry, most people who commit suicide are ambivalent about doing so. Having a gun makes it so much easier for people to commit suicide if they are ambivalent.
For the health and safety of our country, our leaders would be wise to enact stricter gun control laws. The risks gun control are very minimal, or perhaps nonexistent, because doing so will only decrease gun violence. The only downside of gun control is that our freedom is slightly limited, to which I respond by saying that sometimes we have to make sacrifices for the greater good.