Firearms: An Outdated Lifestyle

The lifestyle of firearms is problematic for the safety of Americans


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ORLANDO, FL – JUNE 11: People join together during a rally for Pulse nightclub and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting victims in front of Orlando City Hall on June 11, 2018 in Orlando, Florida. Pulse nightclub and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivors held the rally to demand political leaders stop the epidemic of gun violence as well as reject NRA influence and help the communities around the country that have experienced mass shootings. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Edison Geiler, Opinions Editor

Professional video game player Timothy Anselimo had a bright future ahead of him. The Milwaukee Bucks drafted him to play for their NBA 2K team, giving him a salary of $30,000 with the chance to win one million dollars. Anselimo’s passion for sports video games led him to Jacksonville, Florida, on August 26th.

The qualifying round of the Madden Classic Series Tournament took place in a Jacksonville mall inside of Chicago Pizza. Anselimo wanted to watch the best Madden gamers go head to head for a few hours, but the outcome was a nightmare

He was shot in a mass shooting.

“He didn’t deserve this, and now that he’s facing the fact he might not even be able to use his hand ever again is extreme,” Anselimo’s mother Sujeil Lopez said. “As a mother, you want your child to be great. As a mother, you want your child to succeed and do what they love.”

Lopez’s picture of her son’s bloody backpack

Anselimo luckily survived, but suffered shots to the chest, hip, and right hand. His palm injury may prevent him from competing in video game tournaments ever again.

David Katz, 24, legally purchased a 9 mm pistol and a .45 caliber handgun in order to use in the shooting. It marked the 246th shooting of 2018, following a long line of murders all throughout the year.

Gun control is a popular debate in America. Shootings are much too prevalent, however, the manner in dealing with preventing them divides Americans. Boiling it down to the most vocal groups, conservatives are in favor of stagnation, while liberals support more federal regulation. These debates spiral out of control, and it comes from a lack of understanding about America’s gun laws.

The possession of a firearm varies from state to state, however states may not lower federal minimums. On the federal level, the age to buy a shotgun, rifle and ammunition is 18. Citizens can only purchase handguns once they are 21. Fugitives, patients from mental institutions and people with felony convictions that have sentences that exceed one year may not buy any type of firearm. The same applies to people who have committed misdemeanors with sentences that are over two years. Citizens found using uncontrolled substances, such as marijuana, are also prohibited from purchasing guns.

In addition, people with restraining orders issued by a court in order to prevent harassment, stalking or threatening, along with people who have renounced their citizenship, wrongly laid off military members, undocumented immigrants and people temporarily visiting the United States on nonimmigrant visas cannot buy firearms.

Shotguns, rifles, machine guns, firearm mufflers and silencers are purchasable in every state in the United States.

Background checks are required in order to purchase a firearm. A citizen wishing to buy a gun must present identification, and give the licensed gun dealer information such as their age, address, race and criminal history. From there, the gun dealer is required to send in that information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the National Instant Criminal Background Check System so they can review the information.

Only 12 states require a permit to purchase a handgun, but most require one to carry a gun in public. The requirements for purchasing permits vary from different counties, however most only require a citizen to meet the age limit and provide an ID. California, Connecticut, and Hawaii are the only states that require a permit to purchase shotguns and rifles.

The system and background checks sound secure; however, there are two major exploitable loopholes.

Research done by UC Davis found that firearms auctioned at gun shows did not require the auctioneer to abide by any of the aforementioned laws. A citizen with a criminal history could procure a gun here and escape legal strain.

“Undocumented private party gun sale transactions account for as many as 40 percent of all gun sales,” professor of medicine at UC Davis and leading researcher and authorizer of the university’s research about firearm violence Garen Wintemute said. “They are quick and convenient and their anonymity attracts those who put privacy at a premium. These same attributes make private-party gun sales a principal option for a felon or other prohibited person.”

In conjunction with the antecedent loophole, gifting guns is extremely unpreventable. While giving a firearm as a present to someone who does not meet the requirements of a background classifies as a felony offense, everyone else is fair game.

“Well, if you are in the same state, you could just hand it to them yourself,” a news outlet specializing in hunting, Outdoor Hub said. “There’s no national law that prevents someone from giving firearms to a friend or family member in the same state.”

It is clear those 2 alternatives present opportunities for felons to amass dangerous weapons. America needs to emulate other countries’ gun laws.

Australia’s ban on semi-automatic weapons is a broken record by now, however it is crucial for this debate.

The number of firearm deaths have decreased dramatically in Australia after their government banned semi-automatic firearms

The combination of the ban and citizens returning 640,000 guns resulted in the murder rate being under one per 100,000 people in 2014. According to NBC, there have been no mass shootings since the government took action. Additionally, according to The Sun, there have been 154 mass shootings this year. The Waffle House shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, and the Colorado Springs shooting rampage all had semi-automatic rifles used in them in addition to countless more throughout the year. Adopting Australia’s gun ban would be beneficial for decreasing mass shootings.

In Australia, violent crimes are much lower than the United States, leading gun enthusiasts to believe that high powered guns are needed for self-defense. The banishment of these guns would also decrease the number of violent crimes, thus lowering the need for insane guns for protection.

Japan’s system of background checks would be advantageous to embrace. Compared to the only two steps the United States has to purchase a gun, Japan has thirteen.

A person willing to acquire a gun must first join a shooting club, take a firearm class and pass a written exam taken three times a year and procure a doctor’s note proving an absence of mental instability and history of drug abuse. Then they must apply for a permit for firing training which can take up to a month, detail why they need a gun in a police interview and pass a review of their employment, criminal history, involvement with organized crime groups, gun possession record, personal debt and relationships with friends, family and neighbors. From there the citizen must apply for a gunpowder permit, take a one day firearm training class, pass a test with a mark of at least 95 percent and obtain a certificate from a gun dealer describing the gun they wish to buy. Finally, they must buy a gun safe and ammunition locker that meet safety requirements, allow a police search of your home and pass a final background check.

Furthermore, the only guns you are able to obtain in Japan are shotguns and air rifles. Handguns are banned outright.

This system is rigorous when compared to America’s, and it succeeds.

According to NationMaster, Japan’s murder rate is 1.02 compared to the United States’ five. There were only 47 murders by virtue of firearms in Japan compared to 9,369 in the US.

In theory, a combination of Japan and Australia’s gun laws would be ideal. Japan’s background checks would decrease the level of felons obtaining weapons from licensed gun suppliers and Australia’s semi-automatic rifle ban would prevent further mass shootings. Murders by firearms will not go extinct; however, these precautions prevent further innocent civilian deaths.

There is one glaring issue: culture.

Japan’s history of violence is much different from the United States’. After the end of the Second World War, the victorious ally powers abolished Japan’s military. As a result, a self-defense militia was enacted. A history of peace followed. Japan’s culture is considerably more passive than the United States’, which enables their gun laws to be passed with little debate.

Australia also has a similar passive mindset like Japan. When their constitution was created, Australia’s founding fathers did not mention anything about firearms. They were not worried about government oppression. Essential Research conducted a survey of support on the gun ban, and they found 89 percent of Australia’s citizens support the ban or wish for greater regulation. The United States’ 88.8 guns per 100 people statistic is a clear sign there would be an enormous debate if something like this were implemented.

The tradition of ownership of guns runs deep in this country. It is in the Bill of Rights, which many consider unchangeable. Guns are not an object in America, yet they are a lifestyle. The eradication of certain guns is unpopular with many people by virtue of their way of life being infringed upon.

Many fear government oppression as a reason why America needs guns. This is foolish due to the checks and balances system. The press and other government officials would notice a new party hinting signs of tyranny. The system in place would prevent violent oppression on a nation-wide scale. Tyranny cannot happen.

Messing with these core values terrifies some Americans, but it should not.

America is not a country of tradition, rather one of progress. The country’s primal values would keep the institution of slavery, prevent women and people of color from voting and abolish gay marriage.

America is nowhere near a perfect country. If it were, debates about racism, homophobia and gun control would not exist. However, this tradition of gun ownership needs to be addressed. These owners need to ask themselves a complex question and give thought to their answer.

Does a lifestyle of firearms hold more value over thousands of humans lives?

It is a question this country cannot seem to figure out. The possibility of less mass shootings and civilian deaths perplexes gun owners, because that life is at the expense of their way of life. No one wants to change their lifestyle, because it is thus changing the person they are. However, human life is more important than hunting for sport or shooting around with friends. Entertainment should never be at the expense for human life. There would be less cause for self-defense because gunman would have a difficult time acquiring these weapons.

That lifestyle is not more valuable than human life.