Allow me to propose a question. How many gun related deaths in the United States, do you think occured in 2015? 2,000? 5,000? Maybe even 10,000? 13,286 people were killed in the United States, excluding suicides, in incidents involving firearms. 13,286 lives were lost with gun violence to blame. 13,286 lives could have possibly been saved if simple actions had been made in the process of obtaining a firearm in the United States. The United States has a gun problem, and a horrific one at that. However there is a possible rhyme to the reason as to why the United States continually sees disturbing numbers in relation to international comparisons of gun violence. You see, in the current process of legally obtaining a firearm, the gun show loophole allows a private seller (one who is not in the business of selling guns) to sell or obtain a firearm with no background check whatsoever. The seller only has to think the buyer would pass a given background check (CNN). Obviously this presents it’s own fair share of problems. Theoretically, I, a 14 year old from St. Joseph, MO named Carson Gaddie, could purchase a firearm legally through the gun show loophole. However, the gun show loophole isn’t the only reason that gun violence is such a pressing issue in the United States. You see, when purchasing a firearm in the United States, a license, registration, reason for purchase, safety training, & proof of safe storage are NOT required. This is absurd as key information about the buyer is missing in the purchase of a deadly weapon in the United States. In countries such as the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Ireland, Australia & Denmark, most if not all of these pieces of information are required when purchasing a firearm.
The problem of gun violence is one of great importance and depth in the United States & although it seems as though there is no way to stop this horrific pattern, I present a possible option. I believe that in the United States the gun show loophole should be closed along with the addition of basic background checks when purchasing a firearm because the current state of gun violence in the United States is appalling, similar actions have reduced gun related deaths in several other, highly populated, countries, and there is strong evidence to support the claim that typically, the more guns in an area, the more deaths.
The United States has a gun violence problem, and a bad one at that. America has 6 times as many gun related homicides as Canada & more than 20 as Australia (Vox). The United States consistently is the number one international contributor for gun related homicides, suicides, and mass shootings. Within 336 days out of 2015, there 355 mass shootings (4+ victims, including shooter) (Vox). In other words, there were more mass shootings in 2015 in the U.S. than days in the year. There are roughly 92 deaths occurring in the United States every day involving the use of firearms (Vox). The gun show loophole along with a poor background check system are widely considered large contributors to this epidemic. This is a tragedy as so many lives could have been possibly saved with simple legislative decisions. America has a gun problem, however it’s much more than a sea of dots symbolizing the gun related deaths year after year in the United States. These are sons & daughters. These are mothers & fathers, grandparents & mailmen. This is more than dots. This is about making the United States the safest it can possibly be. This is about people.
Now you maybe thinking to yourself, “Now, I recognize that the epidemic of gun violence in the United States is one of great importance, but how do we know that plans similar to the one proposed, provide satisfying results in wealthy, highly populated countries?” In an effort to answer that question I give you: Australia. Beyond their signature vast desert wildlife & Outback Steakhouses, Australia is a great example of how simple actions can result in great change in the realm of gun violence. In 1996, in the wake of Australia’s worst mass shooting which killed 35 people and wounded 28 others, the country of 24 million reacted with new legislation that banned semiautomatic and automatic firearms, confiscated over 650,000 weapons with payment to previous owners, and a mandatory registration of all firearms in the country and the requirement of a registration to purchase a firearm (Vox). The gun related homicide rate, over the next seven years, dropped by over 40% (Vox). I think there is a key lesson to learn from Australia's success in their efforts to reduce gun violence & that is: simple actions can & have reduced gun violence in other wealthy, highly populated countries.
Now my final reason as to why the gun show loophole should be closed as well as the addition of simple background check measurements such as a license, registration, and safety training is there is strong evidence to suggest that the higher the percentage of households that own a firearm in a given state, the higher rate of gun related deaths in that given state. Chart A (Vox), located in the latter portion of this letter, gives a visual in the relationship between the the percentage of households that own a firearm in a given state & the rate of gun related deaths in that given state. However this pattern is not merely seen on a state level. Chart B (Vox), also located in the latter portion of this letter, shows the same recurrence on an international scale.
Madam President, as I write to you today, you and I both know how pressing of an issue gun violence is in the United States. All I ask is that you take this information under consideration when planning to tackle our nation’s most pressing issues. Remember, the right thing is not always popular and the popular thing is not always right. Godspeed.
Sincerely, Carson Gaddie