Gun control has a linear relationship with reducing violence in the US, whereby gun laws have the largest impact on decreasing of deaths. Three federal laws, particularly gun identification, ammunition checks, general background checks, are likely to minimize death caused by firearms by about 90% (Ross, 2017).
Numerous research concerning gun control has been conducted both at the state and federal level. Studies focus mostly on gun laws in general while not paying close attention to individual laws formulated to curb gun violence (Ross, 2017; Webster et al., 2014). For many years, gun laws have been handled at the state level, with some states implementing preventive regulations while others opt for permissive ones. The difference is the genesis of gun problems in most American states as it ensures the ready availability of firearms even when laws are restricting unlawful ownership (Webster et al., 2014). However, its insight on current state-level firearm regulations is limited since it is an area that has already been extensively covered; hence the available information can be considered exhaustive. It will be important to briefly revisit state gun laws while discussing the three federal laws to ensure a comprehensive approach is achieved.
This paper will provide information that will shed light on the state of gun control laws to fight violence in the US. It covers the federal role in the fight against gun violence paying attention to gun identification, ammunition checks, general background checks as the federal laws aimed at reducing violence by more than 90% in the US (Storrs, 2016). The three laws aim to look at which preventive laws work instead of the general concept that all restraining regulations work.
Challenges to Gun Control
The major challenge facing the implementation of gun laws in the US is a variation of the rules and regulations concerning guns from state to state. States that have accommodating laws, such as stand-your-ground laws, pose a threat to states that have implemented restricting laws such as juvenile access deterrence regulations and background checks (Butkus et al., 2014). Firearm ownership rates differ from the state, as well as gun homicides and unemployment ratios. The three ratios, including unemployment levels, non-firearm homicide death rates, firearm ownership, determine firearm-related deaths from state to state (McGinty et al., 2016). The leniency available in other states means that individuals are likely to travel from other states where there are no lenient laws on guns and ammunition to make purchases and then return to their states. In such cases, the purchased guns are often unlicensed, meaning that they are hard to trace when used to commit violent crimes.
Twenty-five prevailing state regulations target gun control. About a third of the laws are considered to be related to lesser levels of firearm-associated deaths. According to Storrs (2016), general background checks account for the highest impact on reducing firearm-related violence at 39%. On the other hand, ammunition background checks account for reducing those deaths at 18%, while gun identification is responsible for 16%. Gun identification laws enhance the ease of establishing the specific firearm from which a bullet was shot. It is predicted that federal regulations covering background checks for guns bought can decrease death rates from firearms by 57% (Webster et al., 2014). Simultaneously, laws on ammunition background checks are likely to minimize firearm death rates by about 83%. It should be noted that even if the changes are effected today, the results will take some years before the rates are finally lowered.
There is a federal guiding principle pointing out that individuals must be subjected to background checks before making purchases at an authorized seller. The above policy is referred to as the Brady Law. According to Storrs (2016), it has been established that there is a significant gap left by the Brady Law. It does not address the likelihood of guns being acquired from dealers who are not licensed. Most shocking is the estimation that about 40% of the guns are obtained from unauthorized sellers, often at firearm shows and online. This fact implies that a substantial number of guns consisting of a very high quantity are accessible unlawfully hence increasing death rates caused by guns (McGinty et al., 2016). The assumption means that most of the guns used for committing crimes are not likely to be licensed; hence ammunition cannot even track assailants to reduce violence.
New Jersey, Rhode Island, and California have already introduced laws requiring private gun dealers to conduct background checks on individuals before selling guns. These states have ensured that general background check regulations have been created and put in place. The challenge facing the initiative to execute background checks implies that some states do not have similar laws (Butkus et al., 2014). The absence of laws on universal background checks means a high level of leniency towards gun acquisition by individuals. The leniency is a challenge to other states restricting gun acquisition without background checks (McGinty et al., 2016). Therefore, individuals from restrictive states are likely to travel to lenient states to acquire guns and ammunition then travel back. Since the guns purchased are not licensed and originate from a different state, it is highly unlikely for the bullets, shells, or firearms to be traced back to the owners if used in violent actions.
Background checks for guns only is not an effective option for combating gun violence. Even when guns are obtaining elsewhere, acquiring ammunition is challenging. Since gun background checks are deemed to fail, it is stipulated that ammunition background checks are a more viable option that works better than the former (Butkus et al., 2014). However, the most effective option is conducting both ammunition and firearm background checks. Background checks for ammunition alone are still effective than background checks for guns. Some states that necessitate permission to make ammunition purchases include New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Illinois (Weinberger et al., 2015). Limiting access to ammunition through legal procedures ensure that death rates resulting from firearms are greatly reduced while enabling individuals to acquire ammunition lawfully.
It should be noted that some laws are likely to increase the rate of gun violence, while others do not have any effect on gun death rates (Webster et al., 2014). For instance, banning semi-automatic firearms and other assault weapons can escalate mortality rates by 15%. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is usually involved in conducting background checks for firearms. It recorded the highest checks in 2012 and later on in 2015 after the Colorado movie theater shooting and Connecticut Sandy Hook Elem shooting (McGinty et al., 2016). This fact indicates that gun violence usually increases the checks conducted, ensuring that a repeat is not witnessed. Tighter rules on assault weapons do not mean that people have to skip the border to obtain a certain firearm but have open access to other weapons. As such, gun violence is not controlled by banning certain specific types of guns.
Apart from the restrictions on the availability of firearms to individuals, other factors that affect gun violence include variations in mental health care availability, poverty levels, ethnic and race make-up, and culture from state to state (Ross, 2017). However, universal background checks laws set by stats and permit on handgun purchases through licensing are considered the most efficient way to minimize gun violence in the US (Fleegler et al., 2013).
From the above discussion, access to firearms is the genesis of gun violence; hence it would be correct to reiterate that gun control laws can help reduce violence in the US. The following federal laws: gun identification, ammunition checks, general background checks are crucial in reducing gun violence and resulting deaths. Out of the three, background checks for ammunition are the most effective followed by checks for guns and firearm identification. The above three laws should be carried out at the federal level because if states have different gun laws, people are likely to take advantage of the deficiency in other states. It is recommended that similar gun laws are implemented to ensure uniformity and, ultimately, reduce gun violence and deaths.
Butkus, R., Doherty, R., & Daniel, H. (2014). Reducing firearm-related injuries and deaths in the United States: Executive summary of a policy position paper from the American College of Physicians. Annals of Internal Medicine, 160(12), 858-860.
Fleegler, E. W., Lee, L. K., Monuteaux, M. C., Hemenway, D., & Mannix, R. (2013). Firearm legislation and firearm-related fatalities in the United States. JAMA Internal Medicine, 173(9), 732-740.
McGinty, E. E., Wolfson, J. A., Sell, T. K., & Webster, D. W. (2016). Common sense or gun control? Political communication and news media framing of firearm sale background checks after Newtown. Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, 41(1), 3-40.
Ross, S. M. (2017). Introductory statistics. Academic Press.
Storrs, C. (2016). Study: 3 Federal laws could reduce gun deaths by more than 90%. CNN Heath+. http://edition.cnn.com/2016/03/10/health/gun-laws-background-checks-reduce-death/
Webster, D., Crifasi, C. K., & Vernick, J. S. (2014). Effects of the repeal of Missouri’s handgun purchaser licensing law on homicides. Journal of Urban Health, 91(1), 293-302.
Weinberger, S. E., Hoyt, D. B., Lawrence, H. C., Levin, S., Henley, D. E., Alden, E. R., Wilkerson, D., Benjamin, G. C., & Hubbard, W. C. (2015). Firearm-related injury and death in the United States: A call to action from 8 health professional organizations and the American Bar Association. Annals of Internal Medicine, 162(7), 513–516.