The issue of gun regulation in the US is hardly as black or white as the extremes of the political spectrum would have us believe. In reality, there are broad swaths of gray in the gun control debate. Some people take a stand on ethical or ideological grounds; others (generally in the firearms industry) stand on grounds of profit. Most elected officials are in it to pander for the political points, and the majority of their supporters seem quite happy to decide now and get informed later. But what are some pro gun control arguments people are using?
This list of arguments is half of a two-parter debating both sides of the gun control issue, and it focuses on the arguments for gun control. Or, more pointedly, it collects the most rational reasons why people are for gun control laws being stricter.
Fact is, at the end of the day, most of us just want our homes and our nation to be safer places. But to do that, both sides have to see where the other is coming from. Consensus starts with understanding.
When you're done here, check out the list of arguments made by the other side, then decide for yourself on which ground you choose to stand.
Mental Health Screenings Are Rare
There are few effective ways to screen and prevent individuals with mental illness from owning firearms. Because of tensions between federal and state law with regard to the Second Amendment – as well as an uneven application of existing laws and no screenings for individuals who obtain firearms illegally – mentally ill individuals end up with firearms and disproportionately commit mass shootings. A stronger gun control emphasis on background checks and state access to the federal background check database could help with this.
Current Gun Laws Are Not Enforced
There is a robust national background check system, but it hasn't been properly funded in years. Few of those who falsify information on their background-check documents ever get prosecuted. Similarly, straw purchasers (those individuals who purchase guns for another person) are not prosecuted en masse. Gun control is needed now because of this lax approach to existing legislation.
The US Has More Guns Than People
As of 2015, the US officially had more guns in circulation than it had people living in it. When you have more guns than people in a country, you have more opportunities for simple human error. This can mean accidentally leaving a gun where a child or teen can get to it, selling to the wrong person, or allowing a weapon to be stolen.
US Police Are More Militarized Than Ever
In recent years, cheap surplus gear left over from the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have allowed local police departments to acquire firepower that would have been unthinkable just a decade ago. As a result, mid-size police departments have become utterly militarized, looking and acting more like invading armies than public servants.