On March 8, 1998, my brother, Henry Lee Baber III, was shot 14 times by an unknown suspect and died instantly in Los Angeles. He left behind a devastated mother, child, brother, twin sister, and another sister who uses his tragedy to give a sense of urgency about why gun control needs to become next on the agenda for reforming current gun policy. On August 31, 2013, Londyn Samuels, 13 months old, was shot in the chest in Central City section of New Orleans. On September 1, 2013, Antiq Harris, 16 months, was killed in Brooklyn as his parents pushed him in his stroller. On September 2, 2013, 11-year-old Arabian Gayles was killed while she was slept. On September 3, 2013, 16-year-old, Maurice Knowles was sitting on the porch of his home and was killed in Chicago. On September 4, 2013, 7-year-old Desiree Macias was struck in the back of the head while sitting in the car in Los Angeles. Former NRA President Charlton Heston said, “The 30,000 gun-related deaths with firearms in the United States every year are a small price to pay to guarantee freedom.”
Multiple deaths and an intensifying violent culture have led many to conclude that we need increased gun control. However, many conservative politicians and the gun industry argue that the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits gun control. The amendment states: a well-regulated militia, necessary being to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
The Second Amendment grants the right to bear arms, but originally was founded to protect citizens from a tyrannical government and British rule; not against other citizens. Therefore, gun control is not only a pressing and urgent policy matter; it does not violate the Second Amendment.
In the United States, guns are categorized as either handguns or firearm guns. Handguns include pistols and revolvers, while firearms include long guns, rifles, semi-automatic, and automatic weapons. In the United States, 33 states do not require a background check to sell either handguns or firearms; 6 states require background checks on all guns; 3 states require background checks only on handguns; and 7 States requires purchasers to obtain a permit and a background check to buy only a handgun. This means 88 percent of the states lack comprehensive gun control laws, which poses a huge social challenge to reducing violence in our communities.
Moreover, the laws that do exist can be circumvented through two loopholes. First, guns purchased at gun shows or online do not require a background check. Second, in the states that only require a background check for handguns, firearms can be purchased without a background check. This second loophole came about because firearms were historically only intended for military use. Today, people exploit these loopholes to regularly purchase guns without a background check, which prevents monitoring who purchases guns. When a background check is not conducted, people who have previously committed violent crimes can continue to arm themselves. In order to solve this problem, we must close these loopholes. Guns specifically made for mass killings in military warfare should not be available to civilians.
If the United States took extra measures to increase gun control laws, communities would see a decrease in the violence and homicides by gun violence. In China, there are 1.3 billion people compared to the United States 315 million people. China has strict gun control laws, and homicides caused by guns in China stands at 1.1 per every 100,000 people, while the United States stands at a repulsive 4.6 per every 100,000 people. If China, with 985 million more people than the United States, can have a reduced homicide rate through the legislation of strict gun control laws, the United States can make an effort to try to eradicate the death by the use of guns. To do this, the U.S. must strengthen existing gun control laws federally, as opposed to allowing states to regulate gun control.
What needs to be done?
•Legislation needs to be passed federally. Reinstating acts like the Federal Assault Weapons Ban and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, H.R. 3355 will sanction the federal government to impose regulation on gun control, as opposed to allowing state governments to legislate laws.
•Guns and ammunition need to be banned from being sold online because that creates a loophole where a background check is not necessary to purchase them. Likewise, gun shows and firearm sales should require background checks in all states.
•Random searches for the confiscation of illegal guns need to occur, and companies need to be held accountable for the number of guns they sell, and who they sell them to.
•In addition, we as a community and as a society need to become more civically engaged in pressuring our representatives to make a change.
The issue of violence by the use of guns will not end overnight, but stricter gun control laws will ease the amount of senseless deaths. We as citizens cannot allow innocent people, like 20 young children or my brother, or toddlers riding in their strollers to die in the name of so-called “freedom” If a reform in gun control policy does not occur, the rate of people killed will continue to increase. People’s lives are at stake when it comes to gun control policy. We must act now. It is up to the citizens to take a stance, and demand a sense of hope for the betterment of our future. If we cannot protect our people by passing legislation to demand laws to create a safer environment, we are not giving them the true essence of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
5 thoughts on “Curbing the Culture of Violence”
I want this nation to get serious about its public policies regarding firearms….It is just way too easy to obtain a firearm, legally or illegally, in the United States of America.
It’s too bad that while stakeholders debate the issues around gun violence and gun control, the nation loses its’ voice of credibility on this issue as more and more people continue to perish at the hands of guns.
I grew up in the same neighborhood where Antiq Harris died, and I live in the same neighborhood where, late last month, a 3 year old boy was shot and critically wounded…..I have lost family members and friends to gun violence, as have many people in this nation.
The issue of guns will be debated for a very long time….The culture of violence, I feel, is here to stay.
WOW!!! You’re lack of knowledge concerning firearms is absolutely stunning. I cannot believe they actually let you post such incredibly inaccurate facts. Let’s begin:
1. “The Second Amendment grants the right to bear arms, but originally was founded to protect citizens from a tyrannical government and British rule; not against other citizens. Therefore, gun control is not only a pressing and urgent policy matter; it does not violate the Second Amendment.”
The Supreme Court has clearly ruled that the Second Amendment is an individual right. Banning the lawful ownership of firearms is a clear violation of the Second Amendment.
2. “In the United States, guns are categorized as either handguns or firearm guns.”
This one left me shaking my head. Where did you get this? It is grossly untrue. Perhaps you going for “handguns and long guns”, but “firearms” includes all weapons designed to be shot by an individual.
3. “First, guns purchased at gun shows or online do not require a background check.”
Again, grossly inaccurate. The so-called “Gun Show Loophole” is a blatant myth. What it actually refers to is “Private Sales”, a private transaction between two individuals. Gun shows have nothing to with that. Of course, some private sales occur at gun shows, but they also occur between gangbangers on Chicago street corners. Do you think those guys care about a background check? Next, “online” purchases are generally require the weapon to be shipped to a gun dealer with an FFL. That dealer is responsible for the background check and the legality of the sale.
4. “Guns specifically made for mass killings in military warfare should not be available to civilians.”
Should the police have these weapons? My guess is your answer is “yes”. So my next question to you is: Do the people who threaten the lives of police officers also threaten regular citizens? Again, the answer is “yes.” So my final question is: If the police need these weapons to defend themselves against armed attackers, should I not be afforded the opportunity to defend myself as well? I spent more than two decades on Active Duty in the US Marines, including actual combat. Do you deny that I have the training and skills necessary to use these weapons? I have more training and experience than most of the police. I think I should be allowed to own one if I want to.
5. “If the United States took extra measures to increase gun control laws, communities would see a decrease in the violence and homicides by gun violence.”
There is not a single, scientific, peer-reviewed study that backs this up. In fact, the opposite is true. The cities/states in the US with the strictest gun control, have the highest gun murder rates. Chicago? Washington, D.C.?
6. “Random searches for the confiscation of illegal guns need to occur”
Again, WOW!!! I suppose you’re a big fan of NYC’s Stop and Frisk policy. That’s just what we need, police randomly stopping citizens and searching them “just because”. I bet you would rethink this one after the third or fourth cop patted you down searching you for firearm guns.(Pun intended)
Finally, let me add this: You call for federalization of firearms laws and no more state regulation. Hey, I can go for that. Here’s why: Background checks do not scare me. I pass them everytime I purchase a gun, even at a gun show. But either it’s a federal matter or it’s not. Do not make me undertake to endure a background check then let states/cities tell me I cannot carry my weapon there. Either it’s a federal matter or it’s not. If I’m “safe” to own a gun, I should be safe to carry it where I darn well please. My right to defend myself against an armed attacker should not end at the state line.
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