Dear Mr. Paul Ryan
Hello Ryan, I am xxx, and I am currently a student at xxx. I appreciate your work as the Speaker of the Congress since your election to the position in October 2015. You have been at the forefront when it comes to the protection of the rights and freedoms of Americans, and this is commendable. However, I am writing this to express my concern with the reluctance shown by the political class when it comes to passing gun control laws.
In recent years, among the categories of crimes in the U.S., gun violence has often been ranked the leading type of crime occurring regularly. Of course, this can be attributed to the fact that guns are easily accessible in the U.S., a perspective that has also acted as an obstacle in the legislative battle against gun-related violence. There has been a series of brutal reminders in recent times that there is no specific context or sanctuary for gun violence with the same being witnessed in churches, restaurants, schools, homes, and workplaces. Although some of the gun violence incidences are covered by the media, many of them go unreported. Research indicates that on average, 85 fatalities attributed to gun violence occur daily in the United States. There is a high frequency of gun violence in inner cities, which disproportionately affects colored communities but does not receive media coverage or attention. To make matters worse, the high suicide rates attributed to unregulated gun use are even less visible.
The United States is considered one of the most heavily armed societies in the developed world with approximately 40 percent of the household being in possession of guns (Haynes 2). Further research indicates that the homicide rates in the United States are among the highest in the developed world. In line with recent public opinion polls, the rise in gun violence incidences is closely associated with the fact that people have easy access to firearms. I firmly believe that gun control is the perfect solution to the ever-increasing gun violence incidences. That is, coming up with laws that will oversee the enforcement tougher restrictions on the manufacture, ownership, and sale of guns will help address the gun violence menace in today’s American society. In this plan, I have come up with three crucial steps that if taken, will see the U.S. make crucial strides towards gun control. These steps or initiatives include banning bump stocks, conducting background checks before a person purchases a firearm, and increasing the age limit for firearm ownership. The increase in gun violence has resulted in an increase in the number of deaths in the U.S., and thus, gun control is important.
Overview of the Problem
For several years now, there have been debates on gun control, what it entails, as well as the implications of parts of the U.S. Constitution such as the Second Amendment that prohibits gun control. In the research “Gun Control in the United States,” Victor Haynes postulates that by 2016, there were around 20,000 laws and regulations in the United States that were aimed at containing the use and sale of firearms (1). Unfortunately, the several laws and regulations in place did little to reduce increasing gun violence in the U.S. Haynes further states that in 1992, the number of gun-related deaths in the U.S. was almost 40,000. The astonishing rise in gun violence and consequent deaths has triggered public pressure for gun control laws. It should be noted that the relationship between gun laws and violence has been has consistently aroused controversy and interest in equal measure in the U.S.
The issue of gun control has further been complicated by factors such as poverty, demographics, unemployment, extent of gun ownership, alcohol and drug use, levels of urbanization, among others. Laws aimed at controlling the possession, use, and sale of guns are often phased in gradually implying that their effects are only felt after several years. In fact, data on injuries and mortality linked to gun violence lag 2 or 3 years behind (Haynes 2). What is surprising is that the implementation and enforcement of gun laws vary from one state to another, a perspective that has further jeopardized efforts towards gun control. It should not be ignored that gun control can have reciprocal effects that can be difficult to deconstruct. Strict gun control laws can play a key role in the reduction of violence in the U.S., but an ongoing rise in gun violence levels means that the tightening of gun laws is highly likely.
The American population is divided into two; proponents of gun control on the one hand and opponents on the other hand. Proponents of gun control raise safety concerns in a country with an average of 88 guns in every 100 people, at least according to the 2011 Small Arms Survey. Several campaigns aimed at preventing gun violence such as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence give estimations that approximately 114,994 individuals are shot annually in the United States (Schuster n.p.). The campaigns argue that these figures include murders, accidents, assaults, suicide attempts, suicides, and police intervention. On the contrary, opponents of gun control fear that it might be accompanied by the loss of safety. According to them, the restriction of the right to bear arms is likely to leave American citizens unprotected in their day-to-day lives. From a personal perspective, I believe that gun control is important as it will reduce the number of people shot annually in the U.S., which stands at around 114,994 people according to the 2011 Small Arms Survey (Schuster n.p.).
The Plan for Change
Concerning the gun control issue, I propose four crucial steps or initiatives that if implemented, will see a reduction in gun violence incidences and deaths. The first step is to ban bump stocks, which are rifle accessories often used to mimic automatic fire. This is a mandate that should be left for the Congress as they have the power to address the issue through legislation permanently. The fact that President Trump has thrown his support behind the banning of bump stocks should come as good news to proponents of gun control. However, this step is likely to face legal hurdles given rulings by courts that the regulation of the bump stocks is only possible under the National Firearms Act of 1934. Efforts to ban bump stocks also faced a hurdle in the Congress when a bill by California Senator Dianne Feinstein on the same stalled out (McCarthy n.p.).
The second step of my plan is to push for background checks during gun purchases. I believe that this will receive support from a majority of Americans who believe that background checks could do away with incidences whereby criminals are allowed to purchase firearms. This step or initiative is likely to succeed given the legislation in the Congress such as the Fix Nics 2017 Act that seeks to tighten America’s background checks system. With the Fix Nics legislation, incidences such as that where at least three men committed high-profile mass shootings would have been prevented (McCarthy n.p.). The legislation would have seen the men barred from purchasing guns. However, the failure of background check systems saw them get access to guns. This plan could face a challenge given that the Congress has passed a bill that allows the concealed carrying of guns. This paves the way for the use of handguns rather than outlawing their use to reduce gun violence and resultant fatalities.
My third initiative is to increase the age limit for gun ownership and purchase. Already, similar proposals have been made by key political figures such as Rick Scott, the Florida governor. This initiative will be crucial to gun control as it will reduce the significant number of underage people in possession of guns and who often purchase guns in certain states, thereby increasing unnecessary incidences of gun violence (McCarthy n.p.). One challenge this plan faces is strong opposition from the National Rifle Association (NRA) that describes Scott’s proposal as out of character. With the bill already in the Senate, support from members of the House, as well as the leadership of the House, is important.
As a concerned American citizen, I am strongly in support of gun control. The fact that there have been less strict regulations when it comes to the ownership, purchase, and use of guns in the U.S. has increased the number of injuries and fatalities associated with the same. I would want to see a country where there are strict laws and regulations when it comes to the ownership of guns. It is a surprise that the U.S. is one of the most heavily armed societies in the developed world with approximately 40 percent of the households being in possession of guns. I think the U.S. deserves better when it comes to gun control and regulation. This is why I have come up with a plan entailing banning bump stocks, pushing for background checks during gun purchase, and increasing the age limit for gun ownership and purchase. Let us all act now to stop gun violence.
Haynes, Victor. “Gun Control in the United States.” Journal of Political Sciences & Public Affairs (2016). https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/gun-control-in-the-united-states-2332-0761-1000206.pdf
McCarthy, Tom. “What Gun Control Proposals Are Being Considered – and Will They Succeed?” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 27 Feb. 2018, www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/27/gun-control-proposals-florida-school-shooting.
Schuster, Kathleen. “8 Facts about Gun Control in the US | DW | 15.02.2018.” DW.COM, (2018 February, 15). www.dw.com/en/8-facts-about-gun-control-in-the-us/a-40816418.