The recent shootings on Independence Day 2014, that included the cities of Chicago, Houston, and Indianapolis, have placed issues related to gun control and gun ownership into the headlines once again. Citizens who condemn the recent spate of shootings believe that gun control issues have to be tackled immediately with a new gun control law that should be drafted and implemented.
A news article in Aljazeera America points that as many as 373,000 children and adults may be emotionally disturbed and mentally ill. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also says that an estimated 1 percent of the adult population made suicide plans the previous year. This places control issues on the priority list.
The Importance of Gun Control
It Filters Ownership
At the heart of the issue on violent crimes is gun ownership. The violent incidents on Independence Day occurred using guns. Critics argue that an updated gun control law needs to be made in consultation with various sectors and affected agencies. Once this law is approved, it has to be immediately implemented. Ownership of guns can then be filtered and controls can be put in place.
The current debate on gun control is being controlled by those who have a bigger budget. On the other hand, those who are against gun control have also spent millions of dollars while lobbying that the system remains unchanged. They argue that gun violence has nothing to do with gun ownership. Gun associations, rifle clubs, and gun manufacturers all agree with this reasoning.
It Restrains the Unqualified
Gun possession and ownership is an American tradition. There are more guns per person in the United States compared to any other country in the world. Supporters of gun control believe that having strict laws can weed out people who are not qualified for ownership. They also believe that not all individuals should own guns. An individual should be qualified to own one.
Most incidents that are related to gun violence involve people who are not qualified to own a gun. Proponents of gun control believe that a person’s emotional and mental health matters in regard to owning a weapon. An emotionally unstable person who owns a gun has a bigger probability of resorting to violence, according to studies.
It Limits Accessibility
Ownership and ease of access to guns and other types of weapons can be limited if stricter laws are put into place. Those who do not support gun control argue that this will encourage the black market for weapons. Advocates of gun control believe that limiting access is the key to better monitoring.
If gun suppliers and those seeking to own one have limited access, advocates for better gun control believe violence can be minimized. Not all may agree with this premise, but experience tells us that if a person cannot easily acquire a gun, then there can be no instrument for future violence.
The Reasons for Gun Control
Gun Related Deaths
In a data-inspired article on Guns, Anger, and Violence, it was discovered that the sight of a gun increases aggression. It is a psychological phenomenon that was first discovered by Berkowitz and Le Page in 1969 and they labelled it “priming” or an automatic response.
In 1998, Anderson and his colleagues came to the same conclusion. Certain types of stimuli trigger an automatic response. When you see food, you automatically want to eat. When you see a weapon, it automatically activates aggression. This finding concludes that the gun pulls the trigger.
Gun Inspired Attacks
In the same article mentioned, a research on aggression made in 2005 by Klinesmith and his colleagues disclosed that possessing a gun increases a person’s testosterone level. An increase in testosterone can increased aggression.
The findings included an experiment on measuring the testosterone level of an individual. The results revealed that in just 15 minutes, the testosterone level of the person who has a gun tucked somewhere in the body increased dramatically. While they did not insist that this is conclusive, it is a medical fact that a testosterone increase causes excitement.
Gun Ownership and Death Statistics
If you have a gun, the chances of dying in an incident involving another gun-wielding individual is high. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released figures that revealed there were 463 workplace related deaths and all of them were gun-related.
This information goes to show that control issues need to be addressed. The application, approval and possession of a gun must be controlled through legislation. This must be implemented on a national basis, not just in one state.
The Anger and Anxiety Connection
Anger and Gun Ownership
If an individual is unfamiliar with how to control anger issues, then gun ownership must not be allowed. In a 2010 project, researchers Bauman and DeSteno made an experiment where anger was induced. The results revealed that the participants mistook the gun for an ordinary object when angry.
For an angry person, the chance for mistaking a gun for a neutral object is extraordinarily high. Individuals who may have anger issues or provoked to anger may just use their gun since that individual may think it is something neutral.
Anxiety and Gun Ownership
Those who are constantly sad and anxious are also not safe to own a weapon. This type of emotion brings a person to the lowest emotional level possible. If this negative emotion occurs, there can be unexpected behavioral reactions. The power to reason gets mixed up with the need to get out of anxiety and stress.
A person who is in deep emotional trouble will be dangerous if there is no assistance in sight. This applies to those who are in a rage or in deep sadness. A Rutgers University study revealed that there was a 64% increase in depression and stress that need professional help in the past year alone.
Mental Illness and Gun Ownership
Sequestration cuts in health care have made the topic of mental condition and gun ownership issue complex. An estimated 373,000 emotionally disturbed kids and adults require mental health care. Cuts in health care budgets have made treatment unavailable.
The American Psychiatric Association believes that budget cuts on mental health will produce unwanted results. One result in the lack of this type of health care is that kids may get themselves involved in criminal activities.
The Proposed Solution
Better Requirements for Ownership
This proposal believes that not all should be allowed to own guns. Certain requirements must be set in motion. A person who has anger issues and a string of violent behavior must not be allowed to possess a weapon. Not until there is evidence of good behavior should such an individual be allowed to have a gun.
A checklist on the requirements of gun ownership that includes a psychiatric or emotional test can be incorporated to prevent unqualified citizens from possessing a weapon. Other requirements like an in-depth background check can be done to screen unqualified individuals.
Better Monitoring of Owners
This proposal is grounded on the belief that owning a gun requires responsibility. Ownership has to be monitored. This may be difficult to do and implement. Unless some type of monitoring or reporting activity is done, the government cannot identify those who deserve to keep their weapon and those that need to surrender their weapon for valid reasons.
Keeping track of owners and their state of mind can be expensive and time consuming. There is no choice but to do this if gun ownership is to be handed over exclusively to responsible citizens. A person may pass the test upon application to buy a weapon, but later on the applicant turned gun owner may encounter problems and may not be qualified due to mental issues.
Better Program for Emotional Health
Perhaps, this proposal may be the most important. Since gun deaths and violence are related to mental health condition and emotional stability, the best option may be to create a program for emotional health. Gun owners can be required to go through a certain type of program to ascertain mental health and emotional health.
An increased budget for mental health will definitely reduce the number of individuals who have emotional and mental problems. A population composed of people who are in control of their emotional stability and who are mentally healthy will definitely improve the present situation.
There is an uninterrupted connection between gun control, anger, and anxiety. While some lobby that more guns mean less crime, data and statistics do not support this premise. More guns in the hands of individuals who have issues with anger, stress, and other emotional or mental health problems will mean more deaths. This is the real situation that the country is currently in. Studies have shown that gun possession in itself triggers aggressiveness. There has to be a way to solve this dilemma.
The best option to get out of this predicament may be to implement a better, more effective form of control. Maybe it is just control that is the missing piece. Psychologists, mental health professionals, and academe believe that the government has missed the issue by not creating a program to help curb the growing menace. The modern environment is just ideal for breeding stress, mental problems, and emotional instability. A program dealing with control issues may be a distant but promising solution.