Katz: Restrictions could cut gun violence
- Aug. 27, 2010
- 38 Comments
Violence occurs everywhere but guns make it much worse — temporary moments of rage become permanent acts as individuals wield an object that can instantly destroy life. Unfortunately for Americans, there are plenty of guns to go around.
In 2007, 29,645 Americans died from gunshot wounds according to a study in Newsweek, a staggering number in comparison to other industrialized countries like Britain, which had only 176.
With a disparity of this size, one wonders if Americans are simply more violent than, say, the British, Spanish, French and Japanese combined, as the statistics suggest. That is until you compare our gun policies.
With nearly as many guns as there are people and very few restrictions, you can legally acquire just about anything in America. Walk into your nearest gun shop and you’ll find wall upon wall of high powered assault rifles, semi-automatic pistols and extended magazines for those needing to fire more than 20 rounds without reloading. Though this image closely resembles a military weapons cache, it is all legally attainable.
What’s worse is many guns are purchased without any documentation in what gun control advocates call the “gun show loophole.” There are around five thousand gun shows held every year. In each, dealers notorious for easy-sells stand behind makeshift tables. Even less documented than dealers are the individual sellers, who walk around with assault rifles slouched over their shoulders, a price tag usually sticking out of the barrel.
Regardless if you are mentally ill, a convicted felon, or a supplier for Mexican drug lords, if you look older than eighteen and have the cash, you can walk out of a gun shows heavily armed.
But acquiring assault rifles like America’s two best sellers, the Russian Kalashnikov or the American M16, would be unthinkable in other industrialized countries. In Japan, where only 96 gun deaths were recorded in 2007, handguns are illegal and shotguns can only be purchased with strict documentation.
In Britain, semiautomatic and pump-action rifles were banned followed by handguns in 1997. In 2007, it recorded less than one death for every 100,000 citizens compared to America’s ten. Consequently, London police rarely carry pistols.
While handguns are completely banned in Japan and Britain, the United States allows citizens to carry loaded ones. Since 2008, two landmark Supreme Court cases financed by the National Rifles Association (NRA) ruled that all states must respect “individuals” right to bear arms. With these cases under its belt, the NRA is successfully dismantling virtually all gun laws. Forty-eight states, including Kansas, have concealed carry laws and the University of Kansas is next.
Republican Forrest Knox and the Kansas House of Representatives passed a bill that allows students to carry concealed weapons on campus. Knox’s justification for the bill could not better represent the warped nature of American gun policy. In an interview with the Lawrence Journal World, he said the bill would help improve students’ safety.
As for the KU students he addresses, ask yourself if you will feel safer when armed classmates come into your life.
Braden Katz is a senior from Overland Park in political science and English