Gun violence has had a devastating affect on the youth, particularly in poor, urban areas. Gun related homicide is on the rise, being the second leading cause of death of 15- to 24-year-olds in America (Sweas, 14). In 2001, the U. S. Surgeon General stated that youth violence has become a national epidemic: “No community, whether affluent or poor, urban, suburban, or rural, is immune from its devastating effects…. This epidemic has left lasting scars on victims, perpetrators, and their families and friends.
It also has wounded entire communities and, in ways not yet fully understood, the United States as a whole” (Sweas, 16). Since 2001, the situation has not improved. Numerous studies have revealed that exposure to violence has increased the level of depression and anxiety in children and that they often exhibit signs of post-traumatic stress disorder or other stress disorders, which can lead to poor academic performance or other societal and health problems (Sweas, 19). The liability for gun violence is a separate issue.
Allegations have been made accusing several groups, from gun manufacturers and the media to the mental health professionals and the parents. While no one group is solely liable, each bear some level of responsibility. Lawsuits have been made against the gun manufacturers, alleging that their negligence has led to an increase in the circulation of illegal guns. Speculation of funding for antigun violence and gun control education and advertising and in 1993, a San Francisco court ruled that gun manufacturers could be sued for promoting their products to individuals who use those weapons to commit a crime (Goldrich, 2).
However, a U. S. Supreme Court ruling determined that gun makers could not be held liable for gun violence, making it much more difficult to file charges against them (Biskupic, 03A). The media has also received a great deal of heat for the prevalence of violence in movies and on television. Many believe that this is a fault in American society, that “there is a tremendous appetite for violence in American society” (Tyrrell, 32). With this argument, the media is merely feeding a need that is there, not causing the violence.
As many of the individuals in high profile shootings have been revealed to be mentally ill, the mental health profession has received its share of criticism. Many in the field believe that “this reflects the enormity of the challenge our society faces in trying to prevent such violence” and that “must remind the public that people with mental illness are not inherently violent” (Edwards, 6). Yet changes must be made to make the nation’s communities safer, that it is time to “animate statistics with a human face” (Valenti, 392).
Healthcare professionals are in a unique position to help victims of these crimes, and to help prevent them from happening by learning to recognize violent tendencies early (Valenti, 395). Parents also have the responsibility for educating and grooming their children to resist violence and respect firearms. The argument about gun control is heated on both sides, and both have different interpretations of the second amendment, which states that, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” (“Constitution of the United States”).
Those in favor of gun control are of the opinion that this meant that the young country could defend itself and maintain a strong militia but not necessarily allow guns in every household (Tauber, 4+). Those against gun control use this as their mantra, allowing them to buy, sell or trade guns freely without restrictions. While a great majority of Americans have historically believed in stronger gun control laws, the percentage dropped sharply when Obama took office, falling from 51% in 2007 to just 36% (Schneider). At the same time that those numbers have been dropping, gun sales across the country have surged.
Many believed that the new Democratic administration would immediately make a move on gun control; yet, they have failed to do so. This threat has created a rapid increase in sales since the tide turned in Obama’s favor in October. Guns have become scarce in some areas, driving prices up (Schneider). There is also a glaring hole in gun laws when it comes to gun shows, allowing anyone, particularly criminals, to purchase guns without background checks (“Americans United…”). Only 10 states have closed this loophole while others allow individuals to freely purchase whatever guns they want in any quantity (Biskupic).
Unfortunately, the government does not take the proactive approach. They have a tendency to take action after tragic events rather than before, such as prosecuting perpetrators of gun-related crimes as opposed to enforcing gun laws. Several polices have shown promise is reducing the rate of violence: • Forbid firearm sales to high-risk purchasers • Mandatory sentences for gun use in crimes • Promotion of safe storage of firearms and other lethal weapons • Waiting periods for firearm purchases • Owner liability for damage by guns
• Disrupt illegal gun markets • Enforce laws prohibiting illegal transfers of guns to youth. Several attempts have not been successful, including: • Laws permitting gun carrying in public • Gun-safety training • Gun buy-backs. ” (Marsh) The fact is that gun violence has had a devastating effect on the United States and it is an issue that needs to be examined more thoroughly by politicians to find a solution. Both sides need to give on the issue of gun control in order to find a balance that maintains individual freedom but protects the public at large.
No matter who is at fault, the people and the government of the United States have to act to make any difference in the amount of gun violence in society – something clearly needs to change. Work Cited “Americans United For Safe Streets Holds A News Conference On The Gun Show Loophole. ” Political/Congressional Transcript Wire. April 13, 2009: NA. Biskupic, Joan. “NRA takes gun case to high court. ” USA Today June 8, 2009: 03A. “Constitution of the United States. ” Charters of Freedom. (2009). 27 Jul 2009. <http://www. archives. gov/exhibits/charters/constitution. html>.
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