• Arwa Hanin Elrayess

Gun ownership: a privilege or a right?

Updated: Dec 19, 2019

The debate over gun ownership in the United States has proven to be far from black and white.

Many Americans believe that owning and bearing arms is among their rights as Americans, whilst others believe that gun laws should be made stricter, or that their use should be made illegal altogether.

Does the right to keep and bear arms threaten the most imperative human right of all; the right to live? Or do citizens deserve the right to defend themselves, even if it meant putting others' lives in jeopardy?

As I dug deeper into this topic, I realized that many popular ‘solutions’, ultimately lead to the same unfortunate result.

These ‘solutions’ will be discussed in the article below along with a few promising ideas that might inspire change in this detrimental situation.

1: “Simply ban the use of guns and you’ll have less gun-related casualties- it’s logic. Or, make gun laws more strict, so it becomes harder for citizens to purchase these weapons."

Even though these solutions sound like no-brainers, they would fail to solve the issue due to 2 main obstacles:

1: The NRA (National Rifle Association) has held a firm grasp over American politics for a long time. It has an engagement of over 5 million members and pours money into political races at record levels.

They can significantly influence governmental elections and polls. Since 2012, they have used their influence to block over 100 gun control bills. So, members of the government have decided to stay on the NRA’s safe side by rejecting any laws that would restrict or ban the use of firearms.

In 2016, the NRA spent more than $30 million on behalf of the Trump campaign, according to Federal Election Commission data.

2: Let's say the government agreed to ban the use of firearms or made their legislation incredibly strict. This is when we would run into our second obstacle.

Even if we were to bypass the government, we would still have to face the millions of guns in circulation around the country.

There are more than 265 million guns in citizens' possession already. So, if we were to ban them completely, we would be encouraging the growth of the black market.

Citizens would still be able to trade these weapons among themselves and, although it would become harder for a future-shooter to purchase their weaponry, it doesn't ensure that they wouldn’t be able to purchase it illegally.

Someone who has planned to kill others and is willing to die in the process wouldn't think twice about breaking the law to purchase their weapon.

Therefore, unless all previously owned guns are re-collected, this solution would not solve the bigger problem, on the contrary, it may encourage illegal trade around the country.

2: "What about legalizing guns so that they can be carried with everyone, everywhere. Citizens will be able to defend themselves when necessary, resulting in less death."

Most NRA members support this method and claim it's the only way forward. However, there are many obvious flaws in the ideology.

Firstly, if it became normal for civilians to open carry, how will a future mass murderer be differentiated from a law-abiding citizen?

This method would make it easy for criminals to blend in with the rest of society and complicates the process of spotting a shooter before the deed is done.

Additionally, it would encourage the mentality of “shoot first, ask later.” If someone, who seems threatening and has a gun in their belt were to approach you, your immediate response would be to defend yourself, even though, they might have simply been exercising their right to open carry.

Paranoia and distrust would spread through society and future generations would grow in an environment where weaponry is normalized.

If the options above won't work, what will?

To truly solve this issue, 3 steps have to be taken:

1: Re-claim all previously owned guns

If we performed a complete ban on guns, we’d have to collect the ones already in circulation.

After banning their use, the government must encourage citizens to return their firearms by offering a refund to those who hand them in, and issuing fines, or even jail time, to those with guns still found in their possession after a specific date.

This would definitely prompt most citizens to return their weapons, as 66% of civilians already want gun-control.

2: Stigmatize the use of guns

In this day and age, owning a gun has become more of a tradition than a protective measure. Many American’s across the country buy guns purely because of social and cultural pressures.

Instead of promoting and romanticizing the use of guns, we should teach children, from a young age, about their danger.

We must show that guns are no longer accepted in society and that their use is frowned upon, rather than encouraged or normalized. This would eradicate the urge children have to buy these weapons in the first place.

3: All states should follow through on these steps

None of these steps will hold any weight if states across the country don't abide by the same laws.

Therefore, all states should come to a mutual agreement to ensure discipline across the country.

Plan B: Make legislation even stricter

If citizens negatively react to the previous steps, and remain adamant on keeping their weaponry, this plan will be put into action.

Citizens who own guns, or want to buy guns will be required, by law, to go through extensive background checks, that should take many months to finalize.

All previous offenses, regardless of their severity, should be investigated, and any signs of aggression must be examined.

A training and safety course must be taken and family members must confirm, through signature or personal statement, that the buyer is capable of handling the weapon with responsibility.

If this plan is chosen over the ones above, then certain models of guns (automatic and semi-automatic), and gun modifiers, should be completely outlawed and removed from the market, as they are not used for the simple purpose of defending one's self.

Do you agree with the points above, if not, how would you attempt to solve this issue?

I'm interested in your thoughts, so please leave your suggestions below.

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