Are Strict Gun Laws Effective?

Gail Micklewright, Writer

It’s no secret that gun violence has been on the rise. There are plenty of theories and explanations about why. Could it be because of stricter gun laws, or lack thereof? Psychological issues clearly have a role to play, but how significant are they? 

California has some of the strictest gun control laws in America, yet it has a significant amount of mass shootings. The state topped out at 20 shootings, some of which were the deadliest in the nation. Including the San Ysidro McDonald’s Massacre. 

Firearms are making frequent appearances in crime. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), out of the total 1,930 murders in California in 2016, 1,368 of them involved firearms. Furthermore, out of the 104,295 aggravated assaults reported in California in 2016, 2,633 of them involved firearms.

That’s not to say that stricter laws create hostile environments. For instance, Mississippi has some of the weakest gun laws in the country. Mississippi has no mass shootings on record and has significantly less crime in 2016 than California did. Additionally, out of all 2,469 aggravated assaults in Mississippi in 2016, only 902 had a firearm involved. Compared to California, those are significantly lower numbers. That doesn’t mean that firearms are rare in Mississippi crime; out of the total 154 murders in 2016, 128 were at the hand of a firearm.

The question has come down to motive. What drives people to use their firearms to induce harm? Perhaps it’s because of how they were treated in school or at home. Studies show that approximately 40% of school shooters experienced some form of bullying in their time in school. Therefore, it doesn’t seem to be the main reason for such violence. In fact, roughly 54% of school shooters had threatened, harassed, or assaulted people prior to shooting up a school. Even so, shooters that were severely bullied did not target the people that bullied them.

Crime has always existed and always will. This is a matter of how to reduce it.