For decades, the problem of gun possession and gun crime has posed a significant danger to the welfare of nearly all Americans. It is estimated that there are 88 weapons for every 100 people and that every person is 11 times more likely to die as a result of gun violence than people in other developing countries (Kalesan, Villarreal, Keyes, & Galea, 2016). In reality, the escalation of gun ownership has been estimated to have mounted in the last eight years, as study evidence reveals that 3 percent of Americans own half of the weapons in the US. The Las Vegas shootings on a Sunday night during the music festival is the latest reported incidence of gun violence, yet the deadliest of the most deadliest ever recorded in the country (Mozaffarian, Hemenway, & Ludwig, 2013a). On average, for the last 1735 days, approximately 1516 lives have been lost in the country. Yemen is the first runners up after the US in terms of gun ownership among the civilian, and according to the UN office on drugs and crime, only 54 percent of every 100 people in Yemen own the guns (Mozaffarian et al., 2013a). On the contrary, as opposed to the American situation, cases of gun violence in Yemen are not as rampant as it is in the US. A study done in 2007 by the Small Arms Survey indicates that Americans own 35 to 50 percent of the civilian controlled guns in the world, yet Americans are barely 5 percent of the global population (Kalesan et al., 2016). While more than 100 thousand people involved in gun violence are shot annually, nearly 30 thousand Americans succumb to gunshot wounds, which is an approximation of 75 percent of the suicide linked deaths. The advocates of gun control and those judged with the responsibility to monitor gun violence have revealed that Americans risk dying of gun murder at a rate 25 times more than other citizens in developed countries (Kalesan et al., 2016). In order to give an evidence linked evaluation of gun ownership and gun violence in the US, it is not only imperative to highlight the interviews conducted by two individuals who are well versed with this issue in America but also dispense a discussion founded on these interviews.
The interview below was conducted by the University of Chicago press, and the interviewee was one John R. Lott, Jr. Lott is a renowned American writer and legal mind. He is the author of “More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws” (University of Chicago Press, 2014).
Question: The title of your book, “More Guns, Less Crime” is very controversial, what does it imply?
John R. Lott, Jr.: research shows that American states with the highest percentage of gun ownership have reported cases of escalating gun violence. Consequently, the insecurity people have often compelled them to carry guns wherever they go, hence remaining predisposed to conflicts.
Question: it appear illogical to make an argument like; for gun violence crimes to be reduced, then many people should be allowed to own guns. How sensible is this in your opinion?
Lott: just as is the case that increased arrests deter crimes, so is the understanding that people who perpetuate gun violence are deterred by the possibility of confronting an equally armed and deadly person. In fact, evidence shows that in each year, the escalation of gun ownership leads to the reduction in murder, rape, and robbery by 3, 2, and 2 percent respectively. Therefore, offenders fear attacking innocent people when they risk being shot as well.
Question: the statistics about gun violence in the US seem to be worrying as time goes. What could be the background of this data?
Lott: well, it should be noted that history is the best indicator or how the present and the future turn out to be. The present statics are a reflection of how the situation of gun violence was between 1977 and 1994, across the 3054 American counties. The last 18 years only give a reflection of the untamed situation in this society.
Question: your statistics are not holistic. Does is not matter that most people are shot and killed by folks whom they are familiar with?
Lott: well, it would seem logical, if the murders are not part of the killings involving drug barons and drug collaborators, rapists and their victims, clients and their prostitutes, taxi drivers and unknown travellers they picked up, as well as the robbers and their partners in crime. However, acquaintance murders due to gun control are a mix of both the known and unknown perpetrators. Furthermore, people with criminal records, and mostly adults are the most culpable when it comes to gun violence.
Question: does it mean that children should be allowed to carry guns with them so as to deescalate their vulnerability to attacks?
Lott: well, most shootings involving children have often occurred in areas where gun ownership is outlawed in the first place. Therefore, bad guys take advantage of the law abiding citizens who cannot defend themselves in the first place. People who shoot children mostly do so as a secondary crime, after they have already robbed, committed murder, or hit whatever target they needed. On the contrary, in a normal setting, children are never the target, except that the whole population is at risk in equal measure. Consequently, unless more lenient policies are enacted about gun ownership and control, children cannot be in possession of such risky ad fatal weapons. In fact, new studies show that children between the ages of zero days to 15 years are more likely to die of car accidents that gun related violence.
Question: in a situation where gun possessions escalated, don’t you think people will be vulnerable to more violence. For instance, in traffic jams, when people get overly angry at each other and shout others scream and commotion gets matters out of hand?
Lott: that is the picture that would come to mind at a glance. However, many American states have had handgun concealed laws for decades to date. In fact, it was assumed that in case of accidents citizens would attack each other. Contrary to this understanding, only one case has been reported in a traffic confrontation for the last five year. And even in that escalation, the attacker only pulled the trigger in self-defense.
Question: statistics show that women are more vulnerable to gun violence than men. Isn’t an increased possession of guns by the female gender more risky for the whole society?
Lott: whether men or women carry more concealed licensed guns than the other gender, the rate of gun related killings go down. However, with every one more woman given an ok to carry a gun, then as many as three deaths are prevented for women. Nonetheless, with every one more man carrying a concealed gun, many more death is likely to occur as opposed to women.
Question: with increased gun ownership, doesn’t it mean that the middle class in the white and minority neighborhoods will rise?
Lott: I do not rely on speculations. However, practical data shows that with the increased number of guns among the minority communities has resulted to reduced crimes and hence declining gun violence.
Question: how do you compare the US with the UK? There is a general argument that it is harder to obtain and own a gun in the UK than it is here in America.
Lott: there are many confounding factors when it comes to international comparison. Countries differ. Other than the UK, Israel, Switzerland, and Finland have more gun possessions than the UK; however, criminal rates are lower than those in the US. On the contrary, some countries own fewer guns but crime rates are higher. Typically, unless specific elements are under scrutiny, a general opinion could be misleading.
Question: because of the controversial nature of gun ownership and gun violence in the US, many people could oppose your arguments. What would you tell them?
Lott: many people use guns to overcome horrible and fatal situation. On the contrary, tens of thousands of Americans use guns to commit horrible crimes. The basic question is; does giving guns to law abiding Americans make the country any safer? Decision making on this issue should be based on the ultimate goal to be achieved, for the good of all Americans.
The Second Interview
The bellow interview was conducted by a former staff of CityLab, one Emily Badger. The interviewee was Kathleen Sebelius, the then Secretary of Health and Human Services and the president Obama admiration (Badger, 2013).
Question: how many guns are in the civilian control as at now?
Response: well, ther are many research institutions estimating the number of guns at different scales across the nation. Therefore, there is no precise answer on the exact statistic, except that there are not less than 300 million guns in the public.
Question: many wanted people who have criminal record make up 70 percent of those who commit gun related murders. How do they end up possessing the guns?
Response: how guns end up in wrong hands is a controversial issue. Mostly it happens through underhand means, supported by loopholes in the criminal justice system as well as the illegal possession of such weapons in close neighborhoods. Majorly, social networks have to blame for such unfortunate experiences.
Question: what personality of character in an individual should be the number one alarm of not owning a gun in the US?
Response: the mainstream media has made it almost obvious that schizophrenia is the number one mental illness that attributes to gun violence among the mentally challenged. As opposed to this, the reality is that gun violence is attributed more to mentally stable persons than otherwise. It therefore means that the American problem is not who should not own the gun, rather, how should people manage the firearms once they have legitimate possession.
Question: can magazine limitations work when it is engaged as a strategy to lower gun violence in the US?
Response: ther are different views on this issue. For instance, president Obama prefers the number of bullets not to exceed 10. On the other hand, the New York state laws put the number at 7 bullets maximum. The limitation of bullets could not be the solution per se, because if a person can obtain a gun illegally to commit a crime, what makes them unable to obtain more magazines? Nevertheless, on the average, this would be a better objective to achieve.
Question: can’t the gun ownership policy be done away with all together? Why should people own firearms?
Response: people won guns for many reasons. While some feel insecure without, others need to take care of their property, for hunting, due to the political issues, and even just because others are in possession of guns. By the way, if more effective policies are made to give criteria on how and when somebody qualifies to own a gun, it could help avert gun violence in most scenarios.
Question: based on the available data, is there a direct correlation between gun ownership and crime rates related to these firearms?
Response: most arguments have been made to support the idea that: in order to control bad people who use guns to harm others, ther should be equally an increased number of law abiding citizens with guns to tame the criminals. In explicit terms however, ther is no research based evidence that shows more guns lead directly to reduce firearm related violence.
Question: how do people get guns legally when the black markets are selling at cheaper prices?
Response: the issue of black market is perhaps the most challenging scenario on the ground so far. It is true that ther is more protocol involved before one gets legitimacy to own a gun. Nevertheless, most people fear transacting with criminals over the same in black market. In essence, gung stars and robbers sell to their fellow criminals. Therefore, the black market is self-regulated in nature, and the good people are never party to such flimsy and dubious means.
Findings from the Interviews that Explain the Key Information
Gun violence is a serious problem not only in America but also the world over, among the developed countries. While many people lose their lives to gun related violence, the lack of policies to streamline the loopholes in the criminal segment has always been a contributing setback to the US policy makers. It is safer to be in Europe and die of other causes, than to be an American citizen and face a 25 percent more chance to dying of gun violence (Mozaffarian, Hemenway, & Ludwig, 2013b). There is limited research as well, and hence the lack of deliberate evidence based decision making that can help control the issue. Moreover, the problem has become politicized, such that the country is torn apart when it comes to the engagement of the rule of law to avert gun violence and reduce gun ownership. The two major divisions are those opposed to gun control ion the US and the proponents to gun ownership. While those who support gun ownership are of the opinion that increased guns reduce criminal rates linked to gun violence, those against say that guns can only escalate tension and social confrontations, and nothing better (Mozaffarian et al., 2013b). Therefore, there is need for those responsible, and stakeholders from the private and public sector to come out and embrace clear policy making in order to overcome gun violence menace in America.
Badger, E. (2013). 9 Questions About Gun Violence That We May Now Be Able to Answer. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.citylab.com/equity/2013/01/9-questions-researchers-may-now-be-able-answer-about-urban-gun-violence/4418/
Kalesan, B., Villarreal, M. D., Keyes, K. M., & Galea, S. (2016). Gun ownership and social gun culture. Injury Prevention, 22(3), 216–220. https://doi.org/10.1136/injuryprev-2015-041586
Mozaffarian, D., Hemenway, D., & Ludwig, D. S. (2013a). Curbing Gun Violence. JAMA, 309(6), 551. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2013.38
Mozaffarian, D., Hemenway, D., & Ludwig, D. S. (2013b). Curbing gun violence: Lessons from public health successes. Journal of the American Medical Association, 309(6), 551. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2013.38
University of Chicago Press. (2014). An interview with John R. Lott, Jr. author of More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws. Retrieved from http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/493636.html