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Will Stricter Gun Laws Stop School Shootings in America?

How Evaluating Gun Control Policies from Other Countries May Offer Insight on What To Do Next.

Article Written by Jett James Pruitt


Why is gun violence such a complex issue in the United States? Ask ten random Americans what we should do as a country to stop mass shootings, and there's a good chance you will receive ten different answers.


As gun violence in America continues to dominate most of the international headlines on the topic of gun control, other countries use the United States as an example to advocate for the passing of stricter gun laws to reduce firearm-related crime in their respective nations. Specifically, gun control advocates argue that rigorous regulations are necessary to prevent nefarious individuals from obtaining life-threatening weapons.


For example, supporters of stricter gun laws cite countries such as Australia, England, and Japan as examples of how stringent firearm regulations eradicate gun violence. In their view, permissive gun laws only breed more crime overall. Meanwhile, other individuals endorse the opposite view: that stricter gun regulations only bar law-abiding civilians from engaging in self-defense during criminal confrontations, and therefore do not reduce overall crime.


Firearms, in this instance, only protect the victim and change the outcome. Others insist responsible gun ownership is a deterrent for criminals and actually reduces crime. And yet others believe countries that adopt stringent gun regulations are mired in social instability.


Equating stricter gun laws to less violence, they reason, is simply erroneous.


Of course, while both ideological factions convey valid points, both quantitative and qualitative research suggests that the impacts of gun violence are not directly affected by firearm laws. In other words, the preponderance of evidence suggests that stricter gun laws do not directly reduce gun violence, or amplify it. Rather, a nation’s level of gun violence is determined by a variety of social, political, and economic factors that transcend policy regulations.

High School Students in Parkland, FL

First of all, social stability — or the lack thereof — is perhaps the most critical component of pervasive gun violence. Even in countries with rigorous gun laws, social norms play a larger role in amplifying violence than firearm regulations.


This phenomenon is best exemplified in Mexico, which has some of the most stringent gun policies in the world. Among other things, Mexican law mandates a six-month background check for every individual who wants to purchase a firearm, requires that every gun-owner is registered within the federal weapons database, and strictly prohibits the private sale of firearms.


Despite this, Mexico has seen crime rates skyrocket over the past few years (Driver, 2020). For example, on June 7, 2020, an astonishing 177 murders were recorded in 24 hours, making it the most violent day in the country’s modern history (Grant, 2020).


According to NBC News, the increase in firearm-related crime is mostly attributed to the importation of illegal weapons from the United States. Specifically, the presence of powerful drug cartels makes it nearly impossible for government authorities to prevent criminals from possessing firearms. Of course, social instability is also present in countries with permissive gun laws.


Due to the fact that the Republic of Chad has experienced severe social, political, and economic instability for several decades, armed violence has become an integral component of Chadian culture. Several individuals, especially men, engage in armed violence as a way of expressing strength and masculinity. In other cases, armed violence is seen as a normal way of life (Debos, 2011). At the same time, firearm regulation in Chad is considered permissive by international standards. Naturally, many suggest that stricter gun laws could alleviate certain forms of social instability in Chad.


However, as is clearly demonstrated in Mexico, stricter firearm regulations do not necessarily equate to less gun violence. It is very important to note, however, that this does not support the assertion that stricter gun laws are completely ineffective. In fact, there are many instances in which stricter gun laws significantly reduce firearm-related crime.


For example, immediately following the Port Arthur Massacre of 1996, the Australian government passed the National Firearms Agreement, which prohibited all automatic and semiautomatic rifles from civilian use. As mandated by the law, the government bought back and destroyed more than a million firearms.


Following the passage of the National Firearms Agreement, gun violence significantly dwindled in Australia. In fact, the country did not experience any mass shootings from 1996 to 2018 (Nunn, 2019).


Evidently, very few individuals dispute that Australia has been successful in reducing gun violence. However, statistical data shows a clear pattern of declining firearm homicide and suicide rates in Australia before 1996 (Chapman et al., 2006). While the National Firearms Agreement certainly had an impact on firearm-related crime, it was not the sole reason Australia experienced domestic peace for 22 years.

As both quantitative and qualitative research indicates, socioeconomic stability—coupled with access to free mental health services—plays a larger role in ensuring peace than merely passing stricter gun control laws.

In sum, various nations who implement similar gun policies receive different outcomes from one another, supporting the claim that gun violence levels correlate more to access to free mental health care and social harmony, rather than policy regulations. If this were not the case, both Australia and Mexico would have low firearm-related crime rates.


In contrast, some evidence suggests that stricter gun laws do indeed reduce gun violence when and where properly enforced. Particularly in homogenous societies—where there is little diversity in culture, language, and religion—countries tend to benefit from stricter gun laws because most people agree to the same set of standards and rules.


For example, Japan has some of the most stringent gun policies in the world. If individuals want to purchase a firearm, they must pass a rigorous background check, achieve at least 95 percent accuracy during a shooting range test, and be free of any mental illness.

In Japan, all handguns are strictly prohibited from civilian use, and gun-owners must take a shooting range test and prove they are free of mental illness every three years. As a result, this homogenous country of 127 million people sees only six gun deaths per year on average.

Naturally, their low firearm mortality rate is attributed to their strict gun regulations, but other factors are certainly at play.


In addition to Japan, the United Kingdom has some of the most rigorous gun regulations in the world. In fact, as prescribed by Section 5 of the Firearms Act of 1968, British police officers are not even routinely armed. For the general public, any person possessing a legal gun must be granted a firearm certificate.


To gain a firearm certificate in the UK, applicants must prove they have a good reason to own a gun, declare all past criminal convictions, and name two external references to endorse their application. As a result, the United Kingdom has consistently performed well in containing firearm-related crime.

Students Protest in Washington, D.C.

Of course, in order to fully quantify the effects of firearm regulations on gun violence, it is important to examine a country that has diverse populations and political infrastructures within its borders, such as the United States.


As prescribed by our Constitution, enumerated powers are powers granted to the United States federal government, while reserved powers are granted to individual state governments (Cornell Law School, n.d.). While the Second Amendment codified the right to bear arms to all eligible individuals (Oyez, n.d.), states have broad discretion in regulating civilian gun ownership within their borders. For this reason, the level of gun violence varies throughout the United States.


In fact, according to the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Connecticut experienced a 40 percent drop in gun homicides after the state legislature enacted a firearm licensing law in 1995. Missouri, on the other hand, implemented a similar law for several decades before the state legislature repealed it in 2007. Since then, the change was credited with a 17 to 27 percent increase in the gun homicide rate.


Moreover, researchers found that states with lenient gun laws typically have higher firearm-related injury rates than states with stricter gun laws (Jehan et al., 2018). As exemplified by these findings, stricter gun laws can work in both diverse and homogenous political climates.


While Japan, the United Kingdom, and some American states are prime examples of effective gun policies, many other factors still play a significant role in determining the level of gun violence within a nation.


For example, suicide is considered a major social issue in Japan. As individuals typically commit crimes out of frustration, fear, or desperation, Japanese culture has historically been tolerant towards suicide. In fact, suicide is sometimes considered honorable, especially during military service (Wingfield-Hayes, 2015). Because suicide is not as stigmatized in Japan as it is in Western cultures, many would-be criminals simply take their own life to avoid pain and suffering.


Aside from self-inflicted harm, Reuters News reported that knife-crime rates in England and Wales rose to a nine-year high during the midst of national lockdowns due to the Coronavirus pandemic in July 2020. While there was a slight decrease in firearm-related crimes across England and Wales, this report indicates that more restrictive gun laws do not always equate to less violence, particularly when external circumstances cause more aggression within individuals.


In addition, this report suggests that criminals use other forms of weaponry in order to commit acts of violence when handguns are not available. Once again, this is another social variable that transcends policy regulations.


Also, quantifying gun violence in different states within a nation is simply an unequal comparison. While both states reside in the same country, there are major geopolitical differences between culturally different areas, like Connecticut and Missouri.


For example, Connecticut is part of New England, while Missouri is part of the American South; Connecticut’s economy is more urbanized, while Missouri’s economy is more agrarian; Connecticut is typically more liberal, while Missouri is typically more conservative.


Again, there are a variety of social factors that influence gun violence rates around the world, and it is simply false to suggest that stricter gun regulations alone diminish crime.


Therefore, while gun laws certainly have an impact on firearm-related crime within certain countries, there are a variety of factors that produce gun violence which extend beyond policy regulations. The cultural, social, political, and economic components of a society are more important variables that determine the level of gun violence within a nation.


However, with all of this said, we can no longer ignore the increasing number of mass shootings each year in the United States of America.

As a teenager who lives less than an hour away from where the 2018 Parkland High School Shooting occurred—resulting in the loss of 17 innocent souls—I have personally witnessed the impact of gun violence on a community. On the other hand, as the son of a U.S. Military veteran who served 20 years in multiple wars, I can see why individuals embrace the Second Amendment in order to protect one’s home and family.


Acknowledging my personal bias, my stance on this issue has certainly changed since writing my first book, THROUGH THE EYES OF YOUNG AMERICAN, in 2020. In short, I can no longer ignore the tsunami growing right before my eyes.


Even though 77 percent of mass shooters from 1966 to 2019 purchased their weapons legally in America (Axios 2023), I now fully support a permanent ban of rapid-fire assault weapons, in conjunction with supporting laws that directly address access to free mental health services to all individuals, regardless of income.

There have been 146 mass shootings from January 1 to April 12, 2023.

Of course, many will argue this topic should be researched further before enacting stricter gun control laws. If so, researchers should quantify gun violence in countries that completely permit or prohibit firearms (e.g., Eritrea, where civilian gun ownership is strictly forbidden), compare gun violence in countries with identical political infrastructures, and explore how religion impacts violence.


In contrast, there are several political entities that actually mandate civilian gun ownership. For example, the town of Kennesaw, Georgia, USA passed a gun ordinance in 1982 that required all residential households to possess a functional firearm (Biggs, 2007). Quantifying gun violence there would certainly enhance sociologists’ understanding of the relationship between the number of firearms and overall violence.


However, Kennesaw is a relatively small polity, and it would be better to compare crime rates in larger populations. With that said, stricter gun laws may not necessarily reduce gun violence, but robust, free mental health programs and more stable socioeconomic conditions also exist in countries with less gun violence — and this fact can no longer be ignored.


Therefore, we must simultaneously address the mental health crisis, growing social cleavages, and brewing political divisiveness in America while advocating for the permanent ban of rapid-fire assault weapons in all 50 states.


The truth is, Generation Z is tired of being the first Americans forced to live in the age of active shooter drills and mass shootings, mainly because our Generation X parents keep apologizing and reminding us just how "wonderful" and "carefree" teenaged life used to be.


Most notably, 95 percent of Generation Z will have reached voting age for the 2028 Presidential Election, and I guarantee that if Congress fails to fully address the impacts of school shootings by then, there will be a complete reckoning at the ballot box.


That means you,

Governor

Representative

Senator

President.


Today you worry about the gun lobby instead of the 77 percent of Generation Z who support a total gun ban and plan to vote your political career (and party) into extinction by 2034. And your most loyal voter base (who are also our beloved family members) are sadly getting older and thus smaller with every election, and will not be able to mitigate the sheer numbers (i.e. voting power) of my generation eleven years from today.


Therefore, NOW would be a good time to address the three main factors contributing to mass shootings. NOW would be a good time to enact laws to restore my generation's confidence in our government. NOW would be a good time to enact common sense legislation that eradicates school-based gun violence, once and for all.


Finally, I dedicate this article, published on the third anniversary of the founding of TheGenZPost.com, in honor of those who have lost their lives while attending the following schools in America:


Thurston High School Columbine High School Heritage High School Deming Middle School Fort Gibson Middle School Buell Elementary School Lake Worth Middle School University of Arkansas Junipero Serra High School Santana High School Bishop Neumann High School Pacific Lutheran University Granite Hills High School Lew Wallace High School Martin Luther King, Jr High School Appalachian School of Law Washington High School Conception Abbey Benjamin Tasker Middle School University of Arizona Lincoln High School John McDonogh High School Red Lion Area Junior High School Case Western Reserve University Rocori High School Ballou High School Randallstown High School Bowen High School Red Lake Senior High School Harlan Community Academy High School Campbell County High School Milwee Middle School Roseburg High School Pine Middle School Essex Elementary School Duquesne University Platte Canyon High School Weston High School West Nickel Mines School Joplin Memorial Middle School Henry Foss High School Compton Centennial High School Virginia Tech Success Tech Academy Miami Carol City Senior High School Hamilton High School Louisiana Technical College Mitchell High School EO Green Junior High School Northern Illinois University Lakota Middle School Knoxville Central High School Willoughby South High School Henry Ford High School University of Central Arkansas Dillard High School Dunbar High School Hampton University Harvard College Larose-Cut Off Middle School International Studies Academy Skyline College Discovery Middle School University of Alabama DeKalb School Deer Creek Middle School Ohio State University Mumford High School University of Texas Kelly Elementary School Marinette High School Aurora Central High School Millard South High School Martinsville West Middle School Worthing High School Millard South High School Highlands Intermediate School Cape Fear High School Chardon High School Episcopal School of Jacksonville Oikos University Hamilton High School Perry Hall School Normal Community High School University of South Alabama Banner Academy South University of Southern California Sandy Hook Elementary School Apostolic Revival Center Christian School Taft Union High School Osborn High School Stevens Institute of Business and Arts Hazard Community and Technical College Chicago State University Lone Star College-North Cesar Chavez High School Price Middle School University of Central Florida New River Community College Grambling State University Massachusetts Institute of Technology Ossie Ware Mitchell Middle School Ronald E McNair Discovery Academy North Panola High School Carver High School Agape Christian Academy Sparks Middle School North Carolina A&T State University Stephenson High School Brashear High School West Orange High School Arapahoe High School Edison High School Liberty Technology Magnet High School Hillhouse High School Berrendo Middle School Purdue University South Carolina State University Los Angeles Valley College Charles F Brush High School University of Southern California Georgia Regents University Academy of Knowledge Preschool Benjamin Banneker High School D H Conley High School East English Village Preparatory Academy Paine College Georgia Gwinnett College John F Kennedy High School Seattle Pacific University Reynolds High School Indiana State University Albemarle High School Fern Creek Traditional High School Langston Hughes High School Marysville Pilchuck High School Florida State University Miami Carol City High School Rogers State University Rosemary Anderson High School Wisconsin Lutheran High School Frederick High School Tenaya Middle School Bethune-Cookman University Pershing Elementary School Wayne Community College JB Martin Middle School Southwestern Classical Academy Savannah State University Harrisburg High School Umpqua Community College Northern Arizona University Texas Southern University Tennessee State University Winston-Salem State University Mojave High School Lawrence Central High School Franklin High School Muskegon Heights High School Independence High School Madison High School Antigo High School University of California-Los Angeles Jeremiah Burke High School Alpine High School Townville Elementary School Vigor High School Linden McKinley STEM Academy June Jordan High School for Equity Union Middle School Mueller Park Junior High School West Liberty-Salem High School University of Washington King City High School North Park Elementary School North Lake College Freeman High School Mattoon High School Rancho Tehama Elementary School Aztec High School Wake Forest University Italy High School NET Charter High School Marshall County High School Sal Castro Middle School Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Great Mills High School Central Michigan University Huffman High School Frederick Douglass High School Forest High School Highland High School Dixon High School Santa Fe High School Noblesville West Middle School University of North Carolina Charlotte STEM School Highlands Ranch Edgewood High School Palm Beach Central High School Providence Career & Technical Academy Fairley High School (school bus) Canyon Springs High School Dennis Intermediate School Florida International University Central Elementary School Cascade Middle School Davidson High School Prairie View A & M University Altascocita High School Central Academy of Excellence Cleveland High School Robert E Lee High School Cheyenne South High School Grambling State University Blountsville Elementary School Holmes County, Mississippi (school bus) Prescott High School College of the Mainland Wynbrooke Elementary School UNC Charlotte Riverview Florida (school bus) Second Chance High School Carman-Ainsworth High School Williwaw Elementary School Monroe Clark Middle School Central Catholic High School Jeanette High School Eastern Hills High School DeAnza High School Ridgway High School Reginald F Lewis High School Saugus High School Pleasantville High School Waukesha South High School Oshkosh High School Catholic Academy of New Haven Bellaire High School North Crowley High School McAuliffe Elementary School South Oak Cliff High School Texas A&M University-Commerce Sonora High School Western Illinois University Oxford High School Robb Elementary School

Thurston High School Columbine High School Heritage High School Deming Middle School Fort Gibson Middle School Buell Elementary School Lake Worth Middle School University of Arkansas Junipero Serra High School Santana High School Bishop Neumann High School Pacific Lutheran University Granite Hills High School Lew Wallace High School Martin Luther King, Jr High School Appalachian School of Law Washington High School Conception Abbey Benjamin Tasker Middle School University of Arizona Lincoln High School John McDonogh High School Red Lion Area Junior High School Case Western Reserve University Rocori High School Ballou High School Randallstown High School Bowen High School Red Lake Senior High School Harlan Community Academy High School Campbell County High School Milwee Middle School Roseburg High School Pine Middle School Essex Elementary School Duquesne University Platte Canyon High School Weston High School West Nickel Mines School Joplin Memorial Middle School Henry Foss High School Compton Centennial High School Virginia Tech Success Tech Academy Miami Carol City Senior High School Hamilton High School Louisiana Technical College Mitchell High School EO Green Junior High School Northern Illinois University Lakota Middle School Knoxville Central High School Willoughby South High School Henry Ford High School University of Central Arkansas Dillard High School Dunbar High School Hampton University Harvard College Larose-Cut Off Middle School International Studies Academy Skyline College Discovery Middle School University of Alabama DeKalb School Deer Creek Middle School Ohio State University Mumford High School University of Texas Kelly Elementary School Marinette High School Aurora Central High School Millard South High School Martinsville West Middle School Worthing High School Millard South High School Highlands Intermediate School Cape Fear High School Chardon High School Episcopal School of Jacksonville Oikos University Hamilton High School Perry Hall School Normal Community High School University of South Alabama Banner Academy South University of Southern California Sandy Hook Elementary School Apostolic Revival Center Christian School Taft Union High School Osborn High School Stevens Institute of Business and Arts Hazard Community and Technical College Chicago State University Lone Star College-North Cesar Chavez High School Price Middle School University of Central Florida New River Community College Grambling State University Massachusetts Institute of Technology Ossie Ware Mitchell Middle School Ronald E McNair Discovery Academy North Panola High School Carver High School Agape Christian Academy Sparks Middle School North Carolina A&T State University Stephenson High School Brashear High School West Orange High School Arapahoe High School Edison High School Liberty Technology Magnet High School Hillhouse High School Berrendo Middle School Purdue University South Carolina State University Los Angeles Valley College Charles F Brush High School University of Southern California Georgia Regents University Academy of Knowledge Preschool Benjamin Banneker High School D H Conley High School East English Village Preparatory Academy Paine College Georgia Gwinnett College John F Kennedy High School Seattle Pacific University Reynolds High School Indiana State University Albemarle High School Fern Creek Traditional High School Langston Hughes High School Marysville Pilchuck High School Florida State University Miami Carol City High School Rogers State University Rosemary Anderson High School Wisconsin Lutheran High School Frederick High School Tenaya Middle School Bethune-Cookman University Pershing Elementary School Wayne Community College JB Martin Middle School Southwestern Classical Academy Savannah State University Harrisburg High School Umpqua Community College Northern Arizona University Texas Southern University Tennessee State University Winston-Salem State University Mojave High School Lawrence Central High School Franklin High School Muskegon Heights High School Independence High School Madison High School Antigo High School University of California-Los Angeles Jeremiah Burke High School Alpine High School Townville Elementary School Vigor High School Linden McKinley STEM Academy June Jordan High School for Equity Union Middle School Mueller Park Junior High School West Liberty-Salem High School University of Washington King City High School North Park Elementary School North Lake College Freeman High School Mattoon High School Rancho Tehama Elementary School Aztec High School Wake Forest University Italy High School NET Charter High School Marshall County High School Sal Castro Middle School Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Great Mills High School Central Michigan University Huffman High School Frederick Douglass High School Forest High School Highland High School Dixon High School Santa Fe High School Noblesville West Middle School University of North Carolina Charlotte STEM School Highlands Ranch Edgewood High School Palm Beach Central High School Providence Career & Technical Academy Fairley High School (school bus) Canyon Springs High School Dennis Intermediate School Florida International University Central Elementary School Cascade Middle School Davidson High School Prairie View A & M University Altascocita High School Central Academy of Excellence Cleveland High School Robert E Lee High School Cheyenne South High School Grambling State University Blountsville Elementary School Holmes County, Mississippi (school bus) Prescott High School College of the Mainland Wynbrooke Elementary School UNC Charlotte Riverview Florida (school bus) Second Chance High School Carman-Ainsworth High School Williwaw Elementary School Monroe Clark Middle School Central Catholic High School Jeanette High School Eastern Hills High School DeAnza High School Ridgway High School Reginald F Lewis High School Saugus High School Pleasantville High School Waukesha South High School Oshkosh High School Catholic Academy of New Haven Bellaire High School North Crowley High School McAuliffe Elementary School South Oak Cliff High School Texas A&M University-Commerce Sonora High School Western Illinois University Oxford High School Bridgewater University Robb Elementary School Michigan State University Covenant Christian School

[TBD - Insert Next School Name Here]



What are your thoughts? Please share this article with your comments.

Born in 2005, Jett James Pruitt is a Native American (Taino Arawak), Pulitzer Prize-nominated author of the book Through The Eyes of a Young American. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of TheGenZPost.com, and is a political strategist specializing in Generation Z voting trends. His next book The Progressive Conservative is due in bookstores later this year.

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