On The Issues: Gun Control

Mr. Trump and Governor Johnson have relatively similar beliefs regarding guns in the United States. This is unsurprising given their political leanings, but the opinions of both candidates differ greatly from their left-leaning opponents. In general, Mr. Trump and Governor Johnson believe:

  1. Laws that limit legal gun ownership do not prevent gun violence.
  2. Gun free zones are ineffective.
  3. The more legally owned guns there are, the less gun violence and crime there will be.
  4. There should be a focus on helping the mentally ill, not preventing gun ownership.

These ideas do not stray too far from the general opinion held by many conservatives and right-leaning individuals regarding guns. However, lately there has been a debate even amongst Republicans as to whether or not people on terrorist watch lists and no-fly lists should be legally able to purchase guns. This is an important point where Trump and Johnson differ. Trump believes that people on no-fly lists and terrorist watch lists shouldn’t be able to get guns, but he has said he understands where people against this idea are coming from. Johnson finds that these lists are often “subject to error, and believes that limiting access to guns based on being on a government watch list would be a violation of the constitution because the government would be limiting someone’s liberties based on their placement on a list without due process.

While Johnson has been relatively consistent regarding his opinions on guns, it is important to note that Trump has not always been the stalwart defender of the second amendment that he claims to be today. In his book, “The America We Deserve,” Trump expressed his support for the federal assault weapons ban. It is unfair to act as though people cannot change their minds and that doing so somehow makes you a worse candidate for office, but it is an important point to mention.

Author’s Notes:

Gun control is obviously a hot button topic in the United States. It seems like every other day there’s a shooting somewhere. Conversations about guns can often be heated, and it’s important to remember that guns in the United States are not so easily dealt with as in other countries. The second amendment makes gun ownership a right, and this means a lot in a legal sense. Rights are not so easily hindered or done away with in the United States, and this can make change hard (which is done on purpose). To change or abolish the second amendment, 3/4 of the states and a 2/3 majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate would be necessary. That’s a lot of people you’d need to get on board. Countries like Australia and the UK don’t have the same processes for guns because they’ve never been treated the same was as they are in the U.S. Mr. Trump and Governor Johnson have good points regarding legal gun ownership. Does making it harder for law abiding citizens lead to less gun crime? It doesn’t necessarily. Many instances of gun violence involve guns that were obtained illegally, and people who are committed to violence will find a way to carry out their desires regardless of what laws we do or don’t have.

Gun free zones have similar effects, in that, they simply do not do anything to stop gun violence. Malls, schools, office buildings, etc. These are often places where someone has determined no guns will be allowed. This means they can be easy targets for those wishing to perform horrendous acts of violence because their targets will be unable to defend themselves effectively. I am less convinced, however, that more guns mean less gun violence and crime. It seems logical that if a criminal knew the person they wanted to rob had a gun they’d be less likely to rob them. However, this presupposes some sort of omniscient knowledge that the robber has. If the citizen is wearing the weapon publicly, however, it may merely provoke more violent means by the criminal. It’s not set in stone that the weapon will deter them. The most important part, however, and the thing that is incredibly important to me, is focusing more on mental health reform. Whenever gun violence occurs that breaks national news, you hear politicians saying that we need mental health reform. This doesn’t ever lead to much though. Finding a way to help and treat the people in the U.S. who suffer from mental health issues should be a key priority. This doesn’t just help stop unnecessary gun violence, but it helps society as a whole. Regardless of your opinion on gun control and how gun laws work in the U.S., it is important that we have civil debates on solving this issue and others like it.