Throughout American history there a repetitive pattern of epidemics: some are inevitable while others are treatable. Healthcare workers are responsible for treating and ensuring the safety of the patients. The healthcare community tries to enforce a healthy lifestyle through preventive measures such as vaccinations and health promotions. A epidemic that is infiltrating American culture is gun violence. There are different variations to gun violence: police brutality, mass shootings, suicides and the list is ongoing. The sad reality of the situation is that thousands of innocent lives are lost to poor gun regulation and legislation. Within the last five years alone, there have been multiple cases of gun violence that have cost people their lives and caused harmed on many.
The deadliest mass murder in U.S history took place at the University of Texas in 1966. The highest- casualty mass shooting in American history has one thing in common, the weapon used for the shooting. Though advanced technology and the power of the internet, obtaining and executing a well planed mass shooting is convenient. “In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) pegged the total number of gun deaths, including those from suicide, at 38,658, surpassing the 37,461 people who lost their lives in car crashes that same year” (NURSE PUSH, 2018, para 3).
A weapon that allows the shooter to fire without reloading is the semiautomatic gun. Advanced technology and relaxed gun laws have equally created gun violence. There is a direct correlation between states with higher rates of gun ownership and gun suicide. “Despite similar rates of mental illness to many other developed countries, the United States has some of the highest rates of suicide and homicide. Both of these actions are more likely when there\’s a firearm involved” (Gupta, 2019, para 2). Civilians who suffer from mental illness have a higher chance to due by gun suicide. Different factors that plays a role in gun violence and usage is unemployment, mental illness and poverty.
The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution states that civilians may bear arms and the right to possess a weapon for protection. Despite publicized mass shootings, no gun control provisions, there is no change in laws to protect the people. The balance of gun control and gun rights is the political debate that has been ongoing for years. The National Firearm Act (NFA) was enacted in 1934 tried to impose taxes on manufacturing and exporting of firearms.
The Federal Firearms Act (FFA) was enacted in 1938 and it required gun manufacturers to have license to sell firearms. The following act was the Gun Control Act of 1938 expanded the rules and regulations of the FFA. The gun regulation laws should be stricter and involve background checks, fingerprinting, and a training course. The age requirement to buy guns should be 25 and older to allow the individual to mentally and emotionally mature. Creating stricter features on semiautomatic pistols and shotgun can prevent high-profile mass shootings. All states should have a standardized gun law that will focus on public safety. By creating and enforcing strict gun regulations, mass shooting can decrease and help with public safety. Civilians should be educated about firearms and firearm safety.
The government has a responsibility to the civilians to find solutions for those who are suffering from mental illness. “Preventing mass shootings, by having interrupters looking for people who may be isolated or marginalized. In many of the recent tragedies, the shooters were described as loners, full of emotional pain and who, at times, were blatantly antisocial. Most of society simply ignores those people” (Gupta, 2019, para 13). No family should lose a family member, a friend to gun violence. This preventative measure can balance public safety and gun regulation.
Gun control laws are essential in the development of a society. “The nurse collaborates in developing plans for alternative housing and other interventions designed to diminish the vulnerability of these populations. Participation in risk reduction activities in health care facilities to create safe and sustainable environments for care or identifying alternative sites for care following a disaster is another activity that necessitates the expertise of the nurse” (POSITION STATEMENT ON GUN VIOLENCE, n.d) Establishing laws and guidelines for mental illness and gun control can change the outlook of this epidemic. The government can support education program for nurses and the community by identifying risk and decrease gun violence. Increase access to mental health programs for students and family from elementary to high school, having an open discussion can eliminate future disasters. Include gun safety assessment as part of routine health screenings.
“Every 10-point relaxation in a state’s gun laws, the rates of mass shootings in that state increased by 11.5 percent. This trend showed up even after the models were adjusted for population demographics like household income, unemployment, poverty, education, incarceration rates, and race. The eight most restrictive states include Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, California, Illinois, and New York” (Molteni, 2019, para 7). There is a direct correlation between relaxed state gun laws and states with stricter regulations. However individuals who choice to execute violence will go around state laws to make it possible. Molteni states Chicago has strict gun laws, but the guns recovered from this region is purchased outside of Illinois. This displayed the flaws and loopholes within the nation. A eager individual or group can access a firearm from any location because there is no universal gun law. Having a uniform law would allow all states to implement the same precautions and regulations creating a unified nation.
There are many controversies surrounding gun violence and gun control. Gun ownership has been a central part of the history of the United States, and some people feel very connected to this history. When the Deceleration of Independence was written the idea of gun owner ship was completely. In the 18th century guns, especially in America, were a symbol of independence, a reminder that if the civilians could overthrow the government again if needed, however the guns in this time are now centuries obsolete, and the idea of a civilian uprising is one of the past. Some modern Americans feel those same feelings of pride and independence with guns as a symbol, but guns in society have changed.
America has been divided by these two groups of people. “Gun rights advocates typically argue against increasing government regulation and focus on rigorously enforcing current legislation, improving mental health awareness, and bolstering security in public spaces, such as arming teachers in schools…supporters of gun control believe that the Second Amendment is taken out of context in the modern world, particularly with advances in gun technology that have created deadlier weapons than were available in the 18th Century” (Molteni, 2019, para 13). The hostility seen between these two sides of America. Some citizens believe that gun ownership is justified by the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution which states “the right of people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”. Some believe this amendment is not correlated to an individual role to self-defense. Gun control proponents have argued and some federal courts have ruled that the Second Amendment does not apply to individual citizens of the United States but only to members of militias, which, they assert, are now the state National Guard units.
The government is not striking a balance between safety and individual rights because they are greatly favoring keeping guns and not improving regulations despite there being far too many mass and school shooting so far this year. “If an FBI background check takes longer than three days, the gun sale is approved by default. This is how Dylann Roof, the killer of nine people at a black church in South Carolina in 2015, was able to buy a gun despite having a police record that included drug possession” (Hardy, 2002, para 5)