Week one of the Trump presidency is over. The newly elected president issued an astounding 13 executive orders and presidential memoranda, which included two of his key campaign promises: A plan to build the wall and a travel ban to and from 7 predominantly Muslim countries. He also took the first steps to repeal Obamacare, build the Keystone XL Pipeline and withdraw the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
But noticeably absent from any of Trump’s actions was a key issue: Guns. Although the issue of 2nd amendment rights and gun control policy weren’t the cornerstone issues of his campaign, they were still crucial reasons why Trump was elected as the nation’s 45th president. His ardent support for the NRA and the 2nd amendment appealed him to millions of Americans across the country who value their gun rights above all else. Simply put, Trump was playing right into these gun lovers’ hearts when he made it clear on the campaign trail that he was 100% against gun restrictions of any kind.
Donald Trump made it clear on that campaign trail that he’s all for guns. “I am against gun control,” he said during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
So it’s not a huge surprise we haven’t heard anything from the President in terms of guns yet. But even though Trump has been silent on this front, gun violence is still a huge problem across the country. According to the CDC, 651 people are killed by guns on average in a given week.
That’s 651 too many.
It’s no secret that America has among the most lax gun laws around the world. Civilians are able to purchase military-grade weapons such as assault rifles and terrorist suspects who aren’t allowed to fly on commercial flights are allowed to buy guns. This has resulted in deadly mass shootings but also shootings by “ordinary Americans” that arise only due to an argument or conflict.
Why do Americans need assault rifles? Surely people are planning on defending themselves from burglars, not playing a real life Call of Duty game. But still, most gun advocates argue for the use of AR and AK rifles for self defense and simply because the 2nd amendment allows them to. However, these types of rifles really aren’t necessary to protect home invasions, as a handgun is actually the best weapon to do so due to its portability, according to the American Rifleman website. And the 2nd amendment doesn’t give complete gun freedoms to all Americans. If it did, then you would see gun lovers with bazookas, automatic machine guns and the most deadly types of guns.
So what are these assault rifles used for? Mass shootings. Sure, other guns like handguns are actually used in a majority of most shootings, but the lethality of assault weapons is truly something else. These types of guns shoot an astounding 155% more people are kill 47% more than other types of guns. Clearly, the downside of these types of guns outweigh any benefit they bring to the table.
Assault rifles were used in the most deadly shooting in US history when Omar Mateen employed his Sig Sauer MCX rifle to kill 49 and wound 53 others. This rampage provided a wake up call to US lawmakers but seemingly wasn’t even loud enough. Following the incident, Democratic legislators led to push the ban of gun sales to individuals on the government’s no-fly list, or in other words, suspected terrorists. Mateen was once included on this list, although he wasn’t at the time he purchased the guns he used in the shooting. Even though Mateen was no longer on the no-fly list, just the fact that he was one the list for a long period of time shows how dangerous and harmful individuals on the list are. Many of these terrorist suspects have connections to terrorist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda. But somehow, the NRA and Republican congressional lawmakers still couldn’t agree that these people should be barred from obtaining guns. Trump too was against the common sense gun control measures.
Orlando shooter Omar Mateen purchased his assault weapons legally despite the fact that he was once on the no-fly list.
But honestly, it's simply ridiculous how such a simple piece of legislation wasn’t able to pass. Right now these violent terrorist suspects could legally buy an military-style assault rifle and create another mass shooting, just like Mateen did. In other words, there’s no law stopping terrorist suspects from exactly recreating Mateen’s abhorrent attack.
Suspected terrorists certainly shouldn’t be allowed to have guns, but they actually make up only a small portion of US shootings. Instead, regular Americans that don’t have any criminal background cause much of America’s gun violence. According to Jeffrey Swanson, a Duke University psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor, and a leading expert on U.S. gun violence, most of the 11,000 firearm homicides that take place in the US annually are caused by arguments, sometimes involving alcohol. This study goes completely against the “good guys should have guns” argument that gun rights advocates constantly maintain. Sure, it’s an excellent vision that all law-abiding civilians should be armed to protect themselves from criminals, but such a notion is just too idealistic. Swanson’s study proves that even the most good-natured citizens are able to become unhinged during an argument or conflict and resort to their firearm in a seemingly unconscious decision.
So why even give people the possibility of using such a lethal weapon? Everyone has their emotional highs and lows, and guns are a way for angry or annoyed people to resolve their conflicts, whether they consciously make that decision or not. For that reason, there should be no excuse for the abundance of guns in the country, which Trump proudly advocates for, since more guns present would simply lead to more of these gun-related homicides caused by simple a rush of blood to the head. Just having the weapon around gives people a way to intimidate, or as the statistics show, kill whomever they’re quarrelling with.
Who would have thought that incidents like the infamous 19th century Hamilton-Burr duel still happen today?
According to Jeffrey Swanson, homicides similar to the Hamilton-Burr duel in 1803 caused by arguments make up a majority of the gun deaths in the US each year.
America’s epidemic of gun violence can change with heavier restrictions on assault rifles and a ban on the sale of firearms to terror suspects on the government’s no-fly list, both of which would lead to a decrease in the number of guns in circulation. Consequently, the likelihood of such a severe mass shooting like Orlando will decrease dramatically, and since guns will be less prevalent, homicides caused by disagreements will go down as well.
I don’t think anyone disagrees that owning a gun is a right under the 2nd amendment. But like all rights, there should be restrictions on gun sales. Just look to the restriction on free speech and the 1st amendment, where fighting words, threats, and slander are just some of the things not protected by the constitution.
And similar to a car, a gun can be part of an individual’s lifestyle for pleasure or as a necessity. But like a car, which has seat-belt restrictions and DWI laws, and driving, which has speech speed limits and traffic laws, guns cannot be sold without any limitations.
Ultimately, it’s up to Trump to fix America’s gun violence problem. Amidst all the political ruckus he’s caused with his controversial policies, cabinet hearings, and recent supreme court justice announcement, the US is still suffering from a firearm epidemic. If Trump really wants to Make America Great Again, enacting stricter gun legislation is a great way to realize his slogan.