The Terror of Guns

Chloe Ragsdale, Reporter

On an average day in America, 93 people are killed due to guns, which is 25 times the average of any other developed country. This issue controls the lives of American citizens through the loose regulations of gun control laws across the states. Gun control laws should be stricter in the United States, and guns should be made far less accessible in order to prevent horrifying gun violence from ever occurring again. However, despite the proven facts in other developed countries, polls show that 45% of Americans just want their guns.

Anonymous sources expressed that the issues of gun violence lies within the problems in the people, and that having guns taken away from sane citizens is ridiculous. They believe that people’s rights to own guns rests in the Second Amendment, and that this fundamental privilege should be upheld even in modern times.

Dr. Brian Burke, a psychology professor at Fort Lewis College, has a very different view of the Second Amendment.

“Many scholars do not necessarily believe that any individual can have whatever guns they want…it says we should be able to collectively bear arms against forces of oppression if we want to, which is a part of democracy.” The battle for gun control across the country is built upon the interpretation of the Second Amendment, a weak foundation that has caused the crumbling of the rest of the discussion on gun control.

“It is becoming harder and harder to ignore this issue,” Dr. Burke said, and added that the failure to enact gun control legislation comes down to three general elements: lobbyists like the NRA, fear, and the theory of terror management, which is the idea that “we are the only animal that has to deal with the knowledge that we are going to one day die.” This supreme knowledge and intelligence that humans have is ultimately leading to our demise, because we are now living our lives with the overhanging fear of death, and the tantalizing hope of solving it.

“When you remind people of their own death in research studies, they become more conservative,” said Dr. Burke, and explains why more conservatives support gun control than liberals do, as a way to find comfort and security, and maintain their individual rights when they feel threatened.

The effect of terror management creates a never ending cycle of fear and guns in our society; a paradoxical situation where people buy more guns to escape from the mortal horror brought on by guns. This becomes very frustrating when it is a proven fact in other countries, such as Australia, where there are only 14 guns per 100 people, that fewer guns means less violence and deaths. After the Port Arthur shooting of 1996 that resulted in the death of 35 people, Australia changed their gun laws so that semi-automatic guns and shotguns were banned from the public market, as well as extending the waiting period for owning a gun in order to commit thorough background checks.

Gun violence seems impossible to terminate, an issue that, according to Brian Burke, is a “dirty word” when used by the government, which is why they have virtually shut down related public health research. With so many opposing views on such a politicized issue, the only option is to compromise.

“There are guns like hunting rifles that are used for sport, and guns such as assault weapons that are used to kill people,” claimed Burke, “and those are very different and should be legislated differently.” This is a valid reason to only sell guns to those with extensive background checks, take automatic/assault guns completely off the civilian market, and generally make guns safer, such as implementing fingerprint technology that only allows the registered user to fire the weapon.

We must begin to think between the lines as a country and join together to end the raging problem of gun violence in the U.S. Gun violence will reign until gun control laws are tightened, citizens take a stand in their communities, people inform themselves on the 378 monstrous gun attacks of 2017 alone, and risk something significant for the greater good of American lives.