Political Focus: Convincing ourselves we don’t have a gun problem


courtesy of Texas Tribune

Ben Hume, Staff Reporter

“Here we are again” is not the way an article focused on mass shootings should start, but here we are.

Another school shooter was taken into custody on Friday, May 18, after taking the lives of 10 and wounding another 13 in Santa Fe, Texas. Editors of The Oakland Post have already shared their discontent with the United States’ gun problem; however, I still frequently see blame placed on the fallibility of man and American culture.

If it was truly the human condition to blame, the United States would not be the only developed country with a gun problem of this magnitude. There have been upwards of 22,000 gun deaths in 2018, according to Gun Violence Archive. There have been 102 incidents that qualify as a “mass shooting,” which the archive defines as at least four injured or killed due to the discharging of a firearm. These statistics run parallel to gun ownership rates in America. Four in 10 American adults live in a gun-owning household, according to the Pew Research Center, and 66 percent of gun owners own multiple guns. These levels of pervasive firearm ownership are unseen in most developed countries.

In statistics, there is a common fallacy of “correlation does not equal causation,” which defenders of the Second Amendment will frequently cite in defense of American gun rights—placing blame on the human spirit rather than the tool meant for killing.

I believe if you cannot see the connection between more guns and more deaths, you are either ignorant or blinded by selfishness. We have a gun problem, and the solution is fewer guns. Other developed nations have solved the problem. Switzerland had 47 gun homicides in 2016, despite there being one gun for every four people throughout the country. Forced military conscription and strict permit vetting tend to help. Australia’s 1996 mass shooting in Port Arthur is often cited as a perfect example of gun control in action. Australia’s government immediately moved to ban rapid-fire weapons and began buying illegal arms back from citizens to compensate. A report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by the University of Sydney said that since that incident, there has not been a single fatal mass shooting, which the journal defines as five or more killed or wounded. Gun control solved their problem.

America has the same problem. We know gun control works, and we know more guns is not the solution. Every day that our government and our people drag their feet on gun restrictions is another chance for Santa Fe to repeat itself. Or Sandy Hook. Or Pulse Nightclub. Or Stoneman Douglass. Or Las Vegas. For those reading this who still do not believe there is a problem, I beg you to reflect on why you believe so. For those who would rather fight to keep the guns you own than to save American lives, I would accuse you of selfishness.

Gun violence is one of the United States’ most pressing concerns, and anyone who does not believe me needs only to turn on the news.