In an article written in the New York Times, the author states that stricter gun laws will benefit the society of the United States, but unfortunately the U.S. government is failing to act. Kristof uses the shooting in New Zealand as an example of effective leadership as the Prime Minister changed gun laws nearly 10 days after the shooting. He stated that the United States should emulate this behavior. For example, he mentions that when Connecticut enforced tighter gun licensing laws in 1995, firearm homicide rates dropped by 40%. Conversely, when Missouri eased gun control laws in 2007, firearm homicide rates increased by 25%. Additionally, he believes the implementation of thorough background checks is a concept that everyone can agree on. More than 90% of gun owners support universal background checks. He suggests that guns should also be manufactured to be “smarter” so that only authorized users may use them. Experts have even suggested that we could reduce gun deaths by about one-third, saving 13,000 lives a year by investing in smarter guns. Either way, Kristof states that violence will still occur, but we can reduce these acts of violence by bringing awareness of the issue, and persuading Congress to act.
Conversely, John G. Malcolm states that the problem of mass shootings and gun violence are due to lack of mental health treatment, and not increased gun ownership. This article emphasizes protecting the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution that ownership of firearms is an individual right that should not be infringed upon. Malcolm believes that as U.S. citizens, we have the right to uphold the amendments written in the Constitution. Additionally, he mentioned that lack of mental health treatment is the primary cause of mass shootings, not the ownership of firearms. Malcolm believes that it is up to the families to raise their children with enough support to become well-functioning citizens in society. Additionally, he mentions that it is up to the states to teach about mental health in schools so that mass shootings can be prevented if one feels isolated because of their condition and wants to retaliate with violence. He mentions that gun ownership does not correlate with increased violence. He notes that people own more guns in rural areas, but more gun violence occurs in urban areas, where people have less guns, and thus, are less protected. Malcolm believes that gun ownership will actually prevent gun violence.
I believe both articles present valid statements that I agree with. On one hand, I agree with Kristof that more thorough background checks should be executed for gun owners in the United States, making it harder to obtain a firearm. On the other hand, I agree with Malcolm that lack of mental health education persists in the United States, causing those with mental health conditions who do not face treatment more likely to commit gun violence. I agree with Kristof’s argument more. Even though Kristof believes that more strict gun laws should be implemented in order to provoke change, I believe this should be done in conjunction with more thorough background checks. I also believe that even though Malcolm states that the right to own a gun is explicated in the 2nd amendment and should be upheld, the founding fathers who wrote the Constitution had no way of predicting the powerful automatic firearms that would be invented hundreds of years in the future. I think that the presence of automatic weapons should have no place in society. We must make sure the United States is a place where anyone feels safe to reside there. We must reform current gun laws in order to protect this ideal.
Sources:Judge Memorial Catholic High School