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America could learn a thing or two from the UK about guns

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Being an American citizen in the UK this summer, I can’t help but note the stark difference regarding gun violence in these two countries.

There are around 160 times more gun homicides in the US compared to the number of gun-related homicides in England and Wales, and their combined population is only about 6 times smaller. Furthermore, the gun ownership in Britain is at 6.5 guns per 100 people whereas in America it’s 101 guns per 100 people, according to the Small Arms Survey.

In Britain and Ireland, many police officers don’t even carry guns on their person unless they are a specially-trained firearms officer. The UK police generally seem to operate off of the principle that “arming the police with guns engenders more gun violence than it prevents”, according to Guðmundur Oddsson, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Northern Michigan University.

It’s difficult to disagree with this theory after last week’s latest display of gun violence in the US with the police force’s fatal shootings of two black men, Alton Sterling, and Philando Castle. A couple of days later, there was a reprisal shooting by a citizen, resulting in the deaths of five Dallas police officers. Not to mention last month’s Orlando shooting massacre ending with the deaths of 49 people and the gun murder of singer Christina Grimmie, also in Orlando.

Yet while I’ve been in London, there has been only one major shooting incident that I know of, and that was the murder of Jo Cox, a Yorkshire MP.

While America faces mulitple mass murders every year, it only took the UK one similar experience – the Dunblane school massacre in 1996 – and the message was received. After 16 children and a teacher were shot and killed in a Scottish school, the British government proceeded to place legislative bans on assault rifles and handguns, and sharpened their background check process for other firearms. By 2013, there were 200,000 guns and 700 tons of ammunition removed from British streets, according to the Washington Post.

Gun control is a lot more regimented in the UK compared to America, with the ownership of a firearm being treated as a privilege rather than a right. And as a result, there is significantly less gun violence in the country, including by the police. Take note, US.

Meanwhile the 2nd amendment of the Constitution continues to be a subject of popular debate amongst Americans, especially more recently as violence and death tolls continue to escalate from gun usage. It always comes down to whether the right of an American citizen to “keep and bear arms” should ever be infringed upon, under any circumstance.  

In light of all of the deaths by guns in the past couple of months, is it really worth continuing to hesitate when it comes to “infringing” upon people’s 2nd amendment rights?

I suppose the right to bear arms is far more important than the right to live without fear of being gunned down in the street.




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