Firearms have become a point of debate of the culture of the United States. The balance between the American gun culture and the high rate of violence related to firearms is what fuels either end of the debates spectrum. Throughout media sources and other forms of informative discussion, the true debate points and issues have been skewed. Often issues like this have led the public opinion to be radically split, but leaves very little true research, leaving it based on the opinions and ideas of the perceived audience. Therefore, the use of sociological quantitative measures and studies should be used to find the true issues at hand, and allow for proper effective legislation to be born from the truth.
By taking the opinion out of the equation and using more of the quantitative research methods rather than the qualitative methods, it allows us to find the truth behind the numbers in the reports seen throughout the United States when it comes to guns. However, there needs to be a better understanding of what the terminology is, what types of firearms are talked about most, the purposes they are marketed to serve as well as the crimes that are committed with them. There are several different categories of guns throughout the United States and with each category comes different sets of laws on ownership and use, some having more restriction than others. Along with different laws by category, there is also different laws by state and some which encompass the entire country. One example of legislation varying wildly by state are those related to pistol permits, specifically those which grant concealed or open carry, and in some states both are legal. The difference is best shown through visual aid provided below.
As you can see there is an effort made to hide the firearm by the choice of clothing and an appropriate holster to safely maintain the weapon. This style of carry is often popular because it will not draw attention often nor will it make the firearm owner an immediate target to possible criminals. The difference with open carry is obvious, the open carry style makes no attempt to hide or conceal the firearm, which in turn displays the firearm. This method can still be achieved safely using the proper equipment, however, it becomes a focal point and draws much more attention.
More information which is important to firmly grasp on this topic before doing any research is what crimes related to guns are common and which are not while discussing what they are defined as. Gun-related death has continued to be an unfortunate aspect of the culture and has been a larger issue in the U.S. than several other developed Nations according to B.B.C., as the United States has nearly double the gun deaths of Canada and six times the rate of the United Kingdom. Yet, there are areas of the United States which have higher rates of violence and death related to firearms than others. With that information, there lies the question of how cultural factors and differing state legislations impact the death-by-gun statistics in America.
The Center for Disease Control (C.D.C.) in October of 2003 conducted research on the topic of gun violence in America to put together a recommendation and report study as part of the Task Force on Community Preventative Services. The purpose of this report was to research violence, suicide and unwanted injury caused by firearms to find trends in the data. The task force found that many of the gun laws already in place including bans on specific guns and ammunition as well as waiting period restrictions had a mixed effect on the violence related to guns (C.D.C., 2003). Whereas other versions of laws that have been created have had more consistently effective results. Some examples of these are laws keeping children away from firearms, zero tolerance gun bans in and around schools, and a mixture or combinations of laws (C.D.C., 2003). This group also highlighted the issue of growing concern about gun violence, especially with younger offenders trending throughout news. Yet, according to the study, gun violence has been declining (C.D.C., 2003). Though this study was conducted between the years of 2000-2003 and published in 2003, these issues have stood the course of time in the U.S. as well as the laws discussed in the study. This year alone (2017) as of December 10th there have been 57,744 incidents alone, including 14,560 deaths and 29,507 injuries (Gun Violence Archive, 2017). This data shows that the issue has several different aspects of the issue at hand, which in turn will require different legislation. Furthermore, the incidents happen in different ways and amounts in different areas across the United States. The map below shows the United States points of incidences which occurred throughout 2017 to December 10th as a product of the same organization (Gun Violence Archive, 2017).
This visual aid illustrates how there are more incidents in certain, often more populated areas, which will require a series of area-related laws.
Through continued sociological research, the truth behind gun and gun control myths can be determined. By using these truths that come out of the research there can and will be progress made to create tailored legislation for the issues currently facing gun control. Though this is a process which will require time and expense, however successful research leads to the possibility of creating a safer country while maintaining the liberties put in place by the United States forefathers.
1) Anon. 2016. “Guns in the US: The statistics behind the violence.” BBC News. Retrieved December 10, 2017 (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-34996604).
2) Anon. 2017. “Gun Violence Archive.” Gun Violence Archive. Retrieved December 10, 2017 (http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/).
3) Anon. 2003. “First Reports Evaluating the Effectiveness of Strategies for Preventing Violence: Firearms Laws.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved December 10, 2017 (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5214a2.htm).