Guns get a bad rap from the media. They are often linked to violence and presumably pose a threat to society. However, the truth can be a different matter, and almost everything you know about guns isn’t real.
Guns Do More Harm than Good
Every year, close to 40,000 American lives are lost to guns. However, the number drops to 16,000 if cases of suicide are removed. Of the 24,000, the majority of incidents are caused by illegal guns. The media tends to inflate the negative side of gun ownership, capitalizing on the people’s fears. Most guns are bought primarily for self-defense. In a report by the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council, they state that defensive gun use is responsible for saving the lives of 1-3 million people each year.
Compared to only 24,000 cases of guns being used to kill other people, the number of people saved dwarfs the number of ones killed — more so if only legal guns are counted. The media will not run stories about ordinary citizens using their firearms to fend off criminals, protect their families, or even save others’ lives. That kind of news is deemed ordinary, as it happens almost every single day.
Anyone Can Buy a Gun
80 percent of gun-related homicides are perpetrated with illegal firearms, and only 1-in-10 inmates imprisoned for gun-related offenses bought their guns from a store. Gun stores are quite strict when it comes to purchases. Buyers will need to fill up an extensive Form 4473, which exposes them to several background checks.
A criminal record or pending case can bar you from a purchase — even for a minor domestic dispute. If you buy your guns in Walmart, you’ll also have to wait 3 days (3 working days) to receive your firearm. Gun shows are often blamed for the sale of illegal firearms.
However, regulations in gun shows are even stricter than in stores. While private sales between individuals are unregulated, these usually involve antique firearms that were produced before 1899. Since there hasn’t been a rash of killings brought about by muzzle-loaded firearms, it’s safe to say that gun shows are not the primary source of illegal guns.
The majority of illegal guns are stolen, either through shops or residences. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) aggressively campaigns against illegal firearms, marking them as a threat to community safety and law enforcement.
Crossing State Lines
States with prohibitive gun laws often point out that most guns involved in crimes come from outside their states. While true, most of these guns were either stolen or acquired illegally. Crossing state lines is only a matter of economics. Even if thieves steal a $200 gun in Indiana, they won’t be able to sell it there for the same price, as anyone can buy a new gun for $200. However, if they take it to New York or Chicago, they can easily charge $1,000 or more for the gun. Of course, these guns are considered illegal, and the ATF are constantly investigating their sources.
Gun Stores Rake in Money
The US has more gun stores than groceries — so they probably earn a lot of money. Unfortunately, unless they customize or modify guns, gun stores will barely make a profit. Customization and modification are usually limited to aesthetic or cosmetic modifications. However, some stores perform caliber conversions, accuracy adjustments, and sports modifications (making a military-grade weapon legal for personal use).
All these modifications are legal and usually pay for the bills. Profiting from gun sales entirely can be difficult, as mark-ups are usually limited to 5-10 percent. Aside from paying their employees, businesses must pay firearms insurance that covers their employees, their buyers, and the immediate property their store resides in.
Restricting Firearm Purchases Will Solve Gun Violence
Most states with high gun violence rates already have restrictive gun laws, and states where almost anyone can carry a firearm have the least. If prohibitive gun laws were effective in curtailing gun violence, then states like New York and California will have the least amount of incidents, while states like Indiana and Mississippi will have the most. However, exactly the opposite is happening. Restricting gun ownership only puts (illegal) guns into criminals’ hands, leaving ordinary citizens unable to protect themselves.
Guns are not as scary as the media portrays them. Proper gun use saves millions of lives each year, and prohibiting them only drives up gun violence.