Opinion

Change gun stereotypes

A common misconception about gun ownership is that more firearms means more violent crime. While the United States is number one in firearm ownership in the world (roughly 88 firearms per 100 people), it is not the most dangerous in terms of firearm-related crime. You are more likely to be shot in Jamaica, Honduras or El Salvador than you are in the United States, yet the gun ownership per capita in these countries is significantly lower than ours.

In 2013, both the Department of Justice and Pew Research showed that, despite an increase in gun ownership in the United States, violent crimes decreased. Data from several firearms bans show that taking away firearms does not equate to a drop in violent crime.

While there is not a single gun-control act that I wholly support, I would say the one positive thing to come out of gun control is the background check process. This was proposed in the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (the Brady Act) as a means to reduce gun violence. In its original form, local law enforcement agencies were in charge of background checks. This was later repealed by the National Rifle Association as a violation of the 10th Amendment.

The duty of background checks was later replaced by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which is maintained by the FBI. This system provides instant results on whether someone is eligible to purchase a firearm. The system is mostly helpful, but it does have flaws. In 2012, 72,659 applications were denied. Of those, 3,491 were wrongfully denied. The system does help keep firearms out of criminals’ hands, but it is far from perfect.

Despite the good that has come from background checks, The Brady Campaign has led the charge against assault weapons, handgun manufactures and other types of firearm ownership. Proposed legislation such as the Undetectable Firearms Act were ill-informed and based on fear rather than science. The Undetectable Firearms Act was a direct response to pistol manufacturer Glock, and was based on the assumption that polymer handguns would circumvent metal detectors. This was not the case as Glock still uses metal components in its firearms.

In the past 20 years, the gun rights movement has made tremendous progress across the nation. More states are issuing concealed firearms licenses and are reaping the benefits. According to the FBI’s data, as states have changed their handgun laws to right-to-carry, violent crimes have decreased. Research shows that legal firearms owners are less likely to commit crimes than non-firearms owners.

Despite this data, the firearms community as a whole is judged by the actions of a small minority. This behavior of stigmatizing people based on the actions of a few is frowned upon in society, except when it comes to the firearms community. Let’s change that.

Hawkins is a senior majoring in business administration, and is the Arkansas State Director of Students for Concealed Carry. He can be reached at hawkinsj@jbu.edu.