In the aftermath of the Uvalde shooting that left twenty-one people dead, there has been a lot of grief, a lot of sorrow, but also a furious call to action. Gun control advocates have called legislatures to do something about gun violence, specifically to increase gun control measures. While these proposed measures may range from universal background checks to reinstating a weapons ban, many of these measures have met furious resistance from gun-rights activists with this line: guns don’t kill people, people kill people.
This line has been repeated hundreds of times, by the NRA, politicians, and commentators, but they ignore one simple concept. As Dr. David Kyle Johnson of King’s College explains, guns make it much easier to kill people.
There are many people in America who do have a mental illness, but so do people in numerous other countries. Britain's mental health services are a disaster, but we don’t see mass shootings. Australia’s mental health services are objectively terrible, but their schools don’t see school shootings.
They don’t see school shootings for one big reason: because mentally unstable people don’t get guns. Without guns, people who would want to kill others wouldn’t be able to kill others.
Having more guns, on the other hand, also doesn’t actually stop shootings. According to the Violence Policy Center, a gun-control group, for every gun used for justifiable self-defense, there are two accidental gun deaths. Another analysis from Arthur Kellerman found a similar result, for every gun used in self-defense, there were four accidental gun deaths.
There won’t be one piece of legislation to help solve the gun crisis. Banning assault weapons likely won’t end most shootings as a significant number of them come from handguns. Increasing the waiting period for a gun won’t prevent people from acquiring guns illegally to commit mass tragedies, and increasing gun enforcement on illegally acquired weapons won’t prevent people from getting guns to commit tragedies legally. It requires numerous pieces of legislation to get to a place where we can significantly reduce or end gun violence, but we need to start passing legislation to end this.