Is Obama right to call for 'common-sense gun safety laws' amidst Georgia shootings?


Fact Box

  • Tuesday, March 17, three shootings in Atlanta, Georgia left eight people dead, the majority being Asian women. The violence is reported to have been related to a “recent wave of attacks against Asian Americans” in the midst of coronavirus. 
  • Former President Barack Obama announced on Tuesday, “common-sense steps” to help block gun violence in the states, including, background checks, safer communities, mental health treatment, and gun safety technology.
  • 22% of Americans own one or more guns; America has 120.5 guns per 100 people, which amounts to about 393,347,000 guns—the highest per capita worldwide.
  • Divided by party, 32% of Republicans, 59% of independents, and 91% of Democrats are in favor of stricter gun laws in America.
  • In 2019, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found that “6 in 10 Americans fear that a mass shooting will occur in their community.”

Morgan (Yes)

Of all the 195 countries in the world, the United States ranks 28th in deaths from gun violence, with '4.43 deaths per 100,000 people.' As one of the most developed and largest countries worldwide, these statistics are unacceptable. 'Common-sense gun laws' would reduce the number of deaths we see annually in the US, saving and improving the lives of the American people by lessening the fear and likelihood of being shot just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  

Obama is not the only politician to call for these common-sense gun laws. President Biden has backed the demand for these laws on numerous occasions--and following the recent Georgia shootings, he demanded Congress 'pass strict 'common-sense gun law reforms,' including a ban on assault weapons.' It's certainly appropriate for Obama to call for these gun laws when he has statistics on his side and President Biden's backing. 

One of the biggest fears with gun laws is that they will infringe on our right to bear arms. However, in 2016, Obama said plainly that the gun laws are 'not a plot to take away everybody's guns,' and he added that 'it was the rights of people killed in recent mass shootings in the US that were violated.' The Georgia shootings mark yet another instance in which a gun fell into the wrong hands, and innocent people lost their lives as a result. These gun laws aren't being proposed to take away anyone's rights--they're a means to save American lives. 

Kevin (No)

Laws don't actually prevent crime, nor do they truly prevent 'prohibited persons' from gaining access to firearms. A 'sweeping review' of gun control laws performed by a CDC task force 'found no proof such measures reduce firearm violence.' Since Obama has gone on the record regarding what he considers 'common-sense laws,' we can specifically say that the measures he tends to advocate for have largely been shown to be fundamentally flawed. For example, a previous ban on assault-style weapons had little effect on overall gun crime, and, according to The Atlantic, “there's not enough data to judge its effect on mass shootings.” Another problem with Obama's approach is that, as revealed in a Small Arms Survey, there are more guns than people in the US, and a law won't make them disappear. It will only place limits on those who happen to follow that law.

The way to prevent violence is to address the social problems that contribute to it. Some people maintain that treating the surface-level symptoms of the real problem is a good first step while we work on the deeper issues. However, when one considers that levels of violent crime such as homicide and robbery continue to decline despite the proliferation of guns, that assumption doesn't hold up. It should also be noted that stricter laws haven't shown any real impact on that decline. While there is undoubtedly more work to be done on social issues, it is fair to say that we have made progress, and that seems to have had more of an effect on violence than gun restrictions.

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