Don’t ban assault rifles; liberate gun free zones


America has been struck by another mass shooting. One of countless similar incidents in recent years, the USA seems unable to prevent such atrocities from occurring. Omar Mateen, an American citizen of Afghani descent stepped into a gay club in Orlando and butchered 49 people with an AR-15. But while Hillary Clinton calls for reinstating the assault rifle ban across America and the anti-gun lobby attack the NRA as the problem, nobody is actually basing policies on statistics or strategies that work. Democrats across America are wilfully calling for a policy that has been tried but simply doesn’t work. The AR-15 is not the problem; the problem is the gun free zones. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people and ensuring that people are forcibly disarmed is a recipe for disaster.


The Federal Assault Rifle Ban touted by Clinton expired in 2004 after being introduced in 1994. The ban ensured that assault rifles could not be sold in the United States during that timeframe. After the Orlando shooting, Hillary Clinton has called for a reintroduction of the ban. However, during the period from 1994 to 2004 there was no decrease in gun crime in the United States, nor was there a decrease in the number of mass shootings. Simply put: it did not work. Indeed most gun crime in the United States is committed by handguns and a large percentage of those are gang related. Assault rifles, specifically the AR-15, have only made the headlines because they have been the most common weapon used in recent mass shootings in the United States. It makes no sense to ban assault rifles if handguns are still permitted. In the Sandy Hook school shooting, while an AR-15 was used, Adam Lanza was also carrying two handguns.


A semi-automatic rifle in the United States simply means one bullet per trigger. Any damage you could inflict with an assault rifle could equally be done with a handgun with an extended magazine clip. The solution proposed by the would-be-President did not work the last time it was introduced, nor does it appear that more regulation or further attempts to fix an evidently flawed background check will help the situation. Highly regulated, traditionally Democrat states show no statistical variation in the level of gun murder rates or any significant reduction once more regulation is in place. To think that adding a new, different layer of government regulation to reduce crime is a real mistake. In a nation where the right to bear arms is a constitutional right, citizens trying to instigate policies to limit gun ownership is evidently doomed to fail. In Vermont, over 40% of eligible individuals own a firearm, yet the state continues to have the lowest gun crime in the United States. High gun ownership does not result in high gun crime levels; the causes are much more complicated.


Instead of focusing attention on populist solutions, America must unearth the complex causes of mass shootings and instigate effective prevention strategies. Firstly, with regards to small scale gun violence, it is evident that a significant percentage of crime is gang related and committed by illegally obtained firearms. More effective policing of existing legislation to tackle gangs in the inner cities would be a much better strategy than making it harder for innocent civilians to purchase a firearm. If gang members were prevented from gaining weapons through the black market, small scale gun crime would sharply drop. For this to occur you do not need to pass new laws; you just need to ensure that existing laws are properly enforced.


With regards to mass shootings in the United States, there is one common factor that binds some of the more incidents together. They occur in gun free zones, whereby the gunman is the only person armed in the general vicinity. Omar Manteen travelled two hours to the Orlando gay club despite many gay venues being closer to him. It is highly likely he chose the location because he knew no one would be able to fire back. Indeed the death toll surely would have been lower if a few people in the club had been armed, or at least if security personnel were armed. The issue becomes more complicated when schools are targeted, but it seems logical that there should be emergency firearms at hand that only staff members can access. Ending gun free zones will not stop shootings in the United States, but ensuring the victims can fire back would help to end the situation a lot quicker than waiting for the police to arrive.


Big government control over guns will not solve America’s gun crime problem. Change will only come by allowing citizens to defend themselves, as well as ensuring existing regulation is enforced correctly. Semi-automatic weapons may look more dangerous than handguns, and they may be more commonly used in mass shootings, but a handgun can do just as much damage. By limiting gun ownership, the government would be pursuing a misguided, ill-considered strategy.



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