On the 12th of June 2016, a 29 year old man entered the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, armed with 2 rifles. What followed was the deadliest mass shooting by an individual in history, and the worst incident of violence against LGBT people in the US. The shooter was Omar Mateen, a security guard who had legally purchased the weapons a few days previously. The idea of parading around with a gun without implications seems almost unbelievable in this country, so why is it that any US citizen over the age of 18 is simply able to waltz down the street and purchase a firearm in less than 10 minutes?
In 1791, the US government decided it was acceptable to possess a gun, and this view has continued all the way through to 2016. However, events such as the recent Orlando shooting have led many to question why these weapons are permitted, especially since the negative repercussions seem to massively outweigh the ‘need’ for a 2-4 pound killing machine. In 2013, a petition for the eradication of guns was posted on Tumblr, which later broke the record for the most signatures on any petition ever posted to the White House. 3 years later there has been no change, and 2015 alone has seen 13,286 people shot to death and a further 26,819 injured. This is almost 30 times the amount as in the UK, where guns are undeniably banned. If that doesn’t put things into perspective, there has been 281 US gun incidents in the past 72 hours. Maybe it is America’s embracing of firearms that has led to the notable number of unnecessary black shootings by the police and the need for the viral spread of campaigns such as Black Lives Matter- it certainly seems believable.
Needless to say, there has to be some reasons why the government can’t simply ban firearms and wash their hands of it. Although studies show that the majority of the general public are happy for the laws to be passed, the problem lies with members of the US congress, who are generally responsible for legislation. This group of people doesn’t have to represent the views of the majority of America. As a large proportion of the members are Republican (who tend to support guns), there is was no way for Obama to change these laws without their support. This issue is likely to continue far into the future with the newly elected Republican Party.
So why do members of the congress choose to actively support firearms? Many gun owners argue that guns give them a sense of security, and would effectively protect them from attackers or intruders. They also believe that guns are essential for self-defence, and that being able to protect yourself is a fundamental right. But what is more dangerous and disconcerting than the fact that anyone around you could pull out a gun and end someone’s life in a few seconds? Surely getting rid of this risk is the ultimate way to achieve safety and security.
Despite the so called ‘positives’ of owning firearms, it has been proven that the majority of Americans are in favour of banning them all together- the only people standing in their way is a small but powerful group of individuals. Getting rid of these weapons is the obvious move to make, and even the American public knows it.