Gun Violence The Ethical Issue Of Gun Control

Gun control; two words that have many people on the edge of their seats. One of the most controversial issues in America currently, and it comes up time and time again when another person is killed from gunfire. Some people believe the issue is a personal one. “Let me have my guns,” they say. The realistic questions to ask them in response are; where will you get “your guns” How responsible are you What is your intention with these guns Have you ever committed a felony These are not unreasonable questions. In most background checks these questions are asked. However, there are too many loopholes in the system for these checks to matter. The majority of people who have guns aren’t getting them from the black market; most are buying them legally. A lot of people often buy them at gun shows as well, where, “Gun-show organizers say private sellers typically disregard the laws.” (Tampa Bay Times) The ethical question here is this; Is it right to allow gun violence to continue when there are proactive laws that could be enacted to prevent it
Let’s first take a look at a brief history of gun violence in Florida. In 2005, the Stand Your Ground law was passed in Florida which allowed a self-defense claim to protect an individual from criminal charges, with reasonable proof. According to an article in the New York Times, “In Florida, if people believe that they are in imminent danger of being killed or badly injured, they do not have to retreat, even if it would seem reasonable to do so. They have the right to “stand their ground” and protect themselves.” It probably seemed like a good law at the time. There are many states with little-to-no laws regarding self-defense. However, this law proved to go too far when an innocent 17 year old (Trayvon Martin) was killed by a neighborhood watch member (George Zimmerman). Zimmerman claimed that the boy seemed suspicious, and possibly posed a threat to the neighborhood. Martin was unarmed, and was simply walking home from school. Zimmerman was already on the phone with 911, but decided to take a vigilant route and got into an altercation with the boy, and ended up killing him with his gun. When brought to trial, Zimmerman claimed he was acting on the stand your ground laws, and was given no homicide charges. He could have waited for the police. He could have watched him to make sure nothing bad happened without killing him. But he did, and Florida protected him in the trial. The law did not make crime any less prevalent. The major flaw with Florida’s version of this law is that “it gives the benefit of the doubt to a person who claims self-defense, regardless of whether the killing takes place on a street, in a car or in a bar — not just in one’s home, the standard cited in more restrictive laws.” (New York Times) It’s one thing to protect yourself in your own home, and in the same way, it’s reasonable to protect yourself if you have been threatened or attacked. That wasn’t the case there. Florida’s stand your ground law did not succeed in decreasing violent crime. In fact, “implementation of Florida’s stand your ground law was associated with a 24.4% increase in homicide and a 31.6% increase in firearm-related homicide.” (JAMA Network) This law simply proves how little Florida cares about gun violence. It unfortunately didn’t end here though.
The murder of Trayvon Martin happened in 2012. Many shootings happened after that. Many shootings happen all across America every year, every day even. However, some are sufficiently more prominent than others. Specifically large mass shootings. “Large” and “mass shooting” sound synonymous, but a mass shooting is only shooting four people, and it doesn’t guarantee that everyone who was shot died. In June 2016, there was the worst mass shooting at that point in time for America. In Orlando, Florida, a man went to Pulse, a nightclub, and killed 49 people, injuring more than 50 others. How does this relate to the death of Martin Of course, because both situations included death by shooting. One was the case of someone trying to take the law into their own hands, while this is a case with someone who shouldn’t have access to guns was able to access an assault gun with semiautomatic firing. That is how mass shootings often occur. President Obama at the time said, “Unfortunately, our politics have conspired to make it as easy as possible for a terrorist or just a disturbed individual like those in Aurora and Newtown to buy extraordinarily powerful weapons, and they can do so legally.” This isn’t even close to the first time a mass shooting has happened. They’ve been happening for a long time, and they will continue if nothing changes.
On a more personal note, my family recently moved to Florida. They have quickly taken note of how many people are around them who own guns. Almost everyone. A majority of the people they have talked to say they own guns. Why For protection. When you know that everyone around you has a gun, you might want to get one for yourself in the case that things get rough. Now, I have always lived in New Jersey, where gun laws are tougher. I didn’t know many people who owned guns, and if they did, they stayed somewhere safe in their house. In Florida, many people carry their guns with them most times. There’s a reasonable argument to be made for that; people are scared. They don’t know who’s around them all the time. They never know when someone dangerous is around, and they don’t want to be one of the targets of a mass shooting. I didn’t fear being gunned down in New Jersey very often. Only in the case that a mass shooting was featured in the news. How scary it must be, I imagine, to live in a State where you know that many people around you may have a gun on their belt. And they aren’t even a police officer! It’s a crazy idea to me, but I’m not saying it’s bad. I simply hope that only the “right” people are accessing these guns. When I went down there to visit my family recently, my step-mom told me that they had a big meeting for the people who were gonna work at the new stores opening in Jacksonville. One man asked if they could bring their guns in the store. The policy for her company was that guns could not be brought in by employees, so the answer was no. The man was angry because of this, and left for a bit but shortly returned. They were all aware he returned with his gun. I would have been scared. When someone’s response to being angry is to retrieve their gun, do they really seem like the “right” person to own a gun. What if the man had become infuriated, and shot someone Or shot everyone Should a person with anger issues be allowed to get a gun permit
That goes into the restrictions of a FBI background check. According to CNN Money, “Criminal history, drug use and mental illness are red flags that can prompt the FBI to reject an applicant — though that happens in fewer than 1% of background checks.” Those things “can prompt” the FBI to reject an applicant Why does someone with mental illness need a gun Most people with mental illness don’t have a stable mood, and many mental illnesses have suicidal behavior as symptoms. If someone is an addict, they are likely to do anything to get their drugs. Criminals are slightly different, because crimes have a wide variety, but then how is it that a criminal is not allowed to vote in America, but they could get a gun And then there’s the types of guns people can purchase. Handguns, reasonable self defense weapon. Long guns, somewhat reasonable, more so if it’s protection in a house. But I would like someone try to explain to me why semiautomatic assault weapons are needed. Certainly, they aren’t being used for hunting. And it simply doesn’t make sense to defend yourself with an “assault” weapon. It was one thing when police forces starting receiving militarized weapons, but civilians should not have that kind of access. We want people to defend themselves, not become vigilantes. Some states have banned assault weapons, some regulate them, but Florida, along with many others, have basically done nothing for them.
Why has Florida done nothing to help this cause The stand your ground law was a weak effort that wasn’t even aimed at gun violence. People sometimes criticize arguments for gun control, saying things like “guns don’t kill.” Well obviously not. Cars don’t cause car accidents either right But when dangerous people get behind the wheel, people die. And when the wrong people get guns, people die. When the same people get assault weapons, massacres happen. So the issue isn’t entirely the gun, except for in the case of military style weapons. It’s the people who can buy them. This also isn’t a “Florida problem”, but Florida has some of the weakest gun control laws. So by not enforcing stricter laws, Florida is allowing gun violence to occur, and for mass shootings to occur. How do I know this Because Australia, who tightened gun laws and banned a large array of weapons, reduced their number of 13 mass shootings in an 18 year period to zero in the following 19 years. Meanwhile in America, there has been roughly 1500 mass shootings in a 5 year period.