Second Guessing the Second Amendment


Mike Droogan

The Second Amendment is as archaic as the musket. Bringing statistics to the gun control debate.

When examining the Second Amendment, it is important to understand the historical context surrounding its incorporation into the Constitution.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Read a counterpoint by Hunter Peck ’16[/perfectpullquote]

After fighting a bloody revolution to secede from a tyrannical king, this young country was left without a strong Army and no police force. The people needed protection from a potential attack from Britain and constant raids by the Native Americans.

The Second Amendment of the Constitution was enacted to combat this problem. It called for “a right to bear arms” for the purpose of a “well regulated militia.”

In the following 200 years, gun enthusiasts have taken this as American’s having an innate right to own firearms, and any restriction of ownership is seen as a violation of their rights as free Americans.

There is no need for a militia, as we have the most expensive military in the world and Native Americans were “corralled” two centuries ago. Yet, Americans continue to buy guns, and at extremely high rates.

Despite only making up 4.43% of the world’s population, Americans own 42% of the word’s legally distributed guns. Additionally, there are now more guns than people in the United States, according to a Washington Post article that estimates there are 357 million guns to 317 million people.

One of the many reasons why the amount of guns in the country is so high is the false notion that more guns equals more safety. This is unequivocally false and has absolutely no factual basis.

Over the past 25 years the homicide rates in the country have decreased. Some argue that this can be attributed to the increase in the number of guns in the country. Yet this is another misconception, because in that same time period the number of gun owners has actually decreased. Essentially, the number of guns has increased while at the same time getting more concentrated into less owners.  

In a 30-year study published by the American Journal of Public Health, it was found that “for each percentage point increase in gun ownership, the firearm homicide rate increased by 0.9%.”

Furthermore, when broken down state by state there was a direct correlation found between the amount of guns in a state and the gun homicide rates. The same trend forms when the stats are broken down country by country.

There is no way of twisting it or hiding it: More guns means more gun deaths.

Another key argument in support of gun ownership is the notion that they are effective in self defense. But once again, plenty of studies show this notion is simply false.

In a study conducted in Philadelphia from 2003 to 2006, it was found that in the event of an assault, having a gun was not effective in protecting the victim. In fact, victims of assault were 4.5 times more likely to be shot and 4.2 times more likely to be killed if they were carrying a gun compared to those who weren’t.

This misconception is further disproved by the fact that of the last 10,696 occurrences of gun violence only 327 of those instances were for defensive use. The simple fact of the matter is guns are rarely used in self defense and when they are, they are not only ineffective but more harmful to the shooter.

In addition to America’s high rate of homicides in comparison to developed countries, it also has an extremely high suicide rate. According to statistics published by the CDC in 2014, suicide is the second leading cause of death for Americans age 15-24 behind only unintentional injury.

Gun ownership is tied directly to number of suicides and can explain the differences in suicide rates across each state, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Gun suicides make up over half the number of suicides completed in America, but are second to poisoning in number of attempts. This is a result of the fatality of gun suicides. While 2% of attempted overdoses result in death, 85% of attempted gun suicides result in death.

Even notoriously conservative Fox News reported that gun ownership caused the risk of suicide to increase threefold.

One example of a country who was able to combat this problem was Israel. Israel had a very high rate of suicide among it soldiers, especially when returned home after service. When they implemented a policy that forced soldiers to leave their guns with the military when they went home, the suicide rates decreased by 40%.

A 2014 poll conducted by the UMass-Lowell Center for Public Opinion found that 78% of Americans are at least somewhat in favor of increasing background checks and 60% are in favor of assault weapons bans. The main reason Congress hasn’t taken any action in regulating gun control is because of the all the effort and money the NRA pours into lobbying in opposition to gun control. The NRA has spent over $10 million dollars in the past three years to block any attempts by Congress to pass any gun regulation laws.

Owning guns is a privilege – not a right. If America has a “people problem,” although statistics would suggest otherwise, it is only aggravated by an infatuation with guns.

This is not a bipartisan issue or an issue of individuals rights. This is an issue of public safety. Until it is treated as such, this problem will only continue to worsen.