Opinion: Solution to gun violence lies in responsible gun ownership

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When will the killings stop? Some say they will stop when everyone has a gun while others say they will stop when all guns are gone. Either way, the violence still continues.

A shooter killed three and wounded 14 at a factory in Hesston, Kansas, on Thursday.

This is the 33rd of 37 incidents this year involving firearms that has resulted in more than one person killed or wounded, according to the Gun Violence Archive article “Mass Shootings — 2016.”

Yet again in the wake of such tragedies, the discussion of gun control is brought up at the speed of a bullet as Internet forums and news outlets fire away with opinions on the matter.

Though I have a very strong opinion on guns, rather than arguing that everyone should have guns or that no one should have a gun at all, I will try to approach this matter in a more balanced fashion.

Although I am pro-gun and believe the Second Amendment is critical for the relationship between the American government and its people, I do recognize the concerns some people might have. Should there be a magazine capacity limit? Should background checks be stricter?

I see such questions as having good intentions, and indeed, there must be some sort of regulation on guns if our society is to be safe. But how “safe” is safe?

Even in countries where gun violence is much less than it is in the U.S., violence with clubs, knives, etc., is much higher. Take the United Kingdom, for example.

The U.K. lost 38 people to gun-related homicides in 2011; however, the number of homicides by any method during the same year was a staggering 653, according to the GunPolicy.org article “United Kingdom — Gun Facts, Figures and the Law.”

While gun violence was but a fraction of the deaths accounted for in the U.K. during 2011, it goes to show that those who intend to kill will always find a means of doing so, even if it is without the usage of a firearm.

Although American gun culture is not the same as the U.K.’s, I believe criminals and killers will use whatever they can to carry out illegal activities.

Should everyone have a gun so they can defend themselves? Not exactly.

Take those with mental health problems, for example. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness article “Mental Health By The Numbers,” 43.8 million adults in the U.S. experience mental health disorders each year, 10 million of which are serious cases.

That is 10 million people who I would not want to risk having a firearm. If someone with a serious mental illness were to have an episode with a firearm, it could result in harm to themselves as well as others.

With that said, background checks on an individual should take care of that problem; however, background check systems can have holes.

Some states contribute very little to the federal list of prohibited buyers, according to The New York Times article “Problems Plague System to Check Gun Buyers.”

Some might say that is a good thing, but I see it as a major security risk. States need to be more thorough with their reporting of criminal and potentially unsafe individuals if it means less guns will show up in the hands of killers.

Finally, in regards to gun ownership, it is in my experience that some people just do not like to be around guns because they don’t feel safe.

Gun safety is a paramount aspect of owning a firearm, but there are certain stigmas people can associate with certain types of guns.

Take the Armalite Rifle, or AR-15, for example. Due to its customizable nature, many people, such as the author of The Baltimore Sun article “Why we should ban assault weapons,” have called for a ban on the AR-15 because its features can enhance a shooter’s ability to cause damage.

One feature, for example, is a suppressor, which muffles the sound of the gun. The requirements for purchasing one are rather strict, though.

When purchasing a suppressor, the same restrictions apply when purchasing a firearm, but not all states allow them and the background checking process is much longer, according to the “Education” page on silencerco.com.

So, are concerns about the fear of guns valid? Absolutely. If handled responsibly and in compliance with the law, however, there is rarely anything to fear.

I do not think mass shootings will ever completely stop, but in my opinion, the answer to gun violence is in responsible gun ownership and compliance with the law.

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