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Outside the Bubble: Gun Control


Adam Lanza changed the face of the debate on gun control in America on December 14 by murdering 20 children and seven adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. This incident reopened a debate that had been quiet since President Bill Clinton’s administration passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which effectively banned assault and semi-automatic rifles. The Act, however, expired in 2004, making it once again legal for American citizens to own assault weapons, including the AR-15 used in the Sandy Hook shooting.

On January 16, 33 days after the Sandy Hook shooting, U.S. President Barack Obama announced his proposed gun policies, which included limiting all magazines to 10 rounds, universal background checks on all prospective gun owners, and a ban on all “military style assault weapons.”

The National Rifle Association (NRA), which acts as the self-appointed political defender of the Second Amendment, has begun advertising and lobbying against any type of gun control legislation. The organization has suggested placing armed guards in all schools in the U.S. as an alternative.

U.K. gun laws are much stricter than those in the U.S. It takes multiple interviews with the police and thorough background checks to obtain a weapon of any kind. According to a recent study conducted by The Guardian, these strict gun control laws have led to a low level of gun homicides. In fact, the rate of gun homicides in the U.K. is 0.07 per 100,000 citizens. The rate in the U.S., on the other hand, is 2.97 per 100,000 citizens.

Although the U.K. gun laws are much stricter, gun enthusiast Sam Evans (’15) has still found ways to pursue his passion of shooting. Evans regularly shoots both skeet and rifle in London, and has done so for many years.

A long experience with guns has shaped Evan’s opinion and he believes that guns keep people safe rather than causing harm. “Guns are an equalizer. It is the only way a small woman could fight back against a large assailant. [Guns] have the ability to level the odds,” he said. “Creating a 10-round maximum on magazines is useless. When firing, the reloading time doesn’t make an actual difference.”

Evans cited two additional reasons why he is opposed to gun control. He sees the police as “second responders” and that the only way to truly stop a shooting is for there to be armed citizens close by who can control the situation.

This view is supported by the recent shooting at a showing of the movie The Hobbit in San Antonio, Texas. A man opened fire in the parking lot of the movie theater and was gunned down by a pedestrian armed with a pistol.

The second reason behind Evans’s strong opposition is that the majority of gun-related crimes in the U.S. are caused by handguns, not assault rifles. “Rifles are typically three and a half percent of all gun murders,” he said. “Why don’t politicians look to ban hand rifles? Because they know they can’t do that.”

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