U.S. gun policy fails to balance freedom, safety

[An Arrowhead Commentary]Guns are deeply ingrained in U.S. culture, with interest groups existing across the entire spectrum of gun contol policies. The lack of action to implement safety regulations puts civilians at risk for being affected by irresponsible or intentionally harmful gun use.

With the influx of gun violence throughout the country, it’s important to examine how we can greatly reduce this mass violence while protecting our constitutional right.
Before the Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling in the landmark case District of Columbia v. Heller, the Second Amendment was interpreted as the right for state militias to bear arms for collective security, rather than for individuals to have the right to own guns for individual self-defense.
But this right is not uniquely American, as plenty of civilians in plenty of other countries also have the right to bear arms–yet the United States is an outlier when it comes to gun violence in developed countries.
The U.S. also ranks first in the rate of firearm homicide among high-income countries of 10 million people or more, according to Health Data with 4.12 deaths per 100,000 people. The second highest is Chile with 1.82 deaths and Canada with 0.5 deaths per 100,000 people.
The high rates of gun violence in the U.S. can be explained by the U.S.’ intense focus on the right to own guns while neglecting necessary gun control, which would ultimately better protect all citizens’ safety and right to life.
According to the United Nations, basic components for gun legislation that prioritizes safety include comprehensive background checks to identify risk factors, mandatory training, only allowing individuals to buy certain amounts and types of gun based on necessity, prohibiting firearms and ammunition that pose a risk to public safety, along with other guidelines.
Ultimately, gun control helps make communities and countries safer.
In 1996, after a gunman in Port Arthur, Australia killed 35 people and wounded 23 others, Australia passed sweeping gun reforms.
With the passing of the National Firearms Agreement (NFA), Australia’s government outlawed both automatic and semi-automatic rifles, firearms which are more lethal due to their ability to fire rapidly, and peacefully bought back 650,000 guns.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), gunmen using semi-automatic rifles kill and wound double the amount of people than with non-automatic rifles.
In an article published by the National Rifle Association (NRA), a gun rights lobbying organization, the NRA claims that the Australian government “robbed Australians of their right to self-defense and empowered criminals.”
However, according to a study conducted by the Harvard Control Research Center, it is very likely that Australia’s NFA aided in greatly reducing the rates of homicide and suicide committed using firearms.
The study states that “firearm deaths in states with higher buyback rates per capita fell proportionately more than in states with lower buyback rates.”
While U. S. politics prevents effective gun control that balances Second Amendment rights and safety, we need to continue to press for action.