America has a big problem on its hands… the increasing number of mass shootings that have been occurring in recent years. We are seeing more and more shootings like the ones in Denver earlier this year in a movie theatre, the deadly mall shooting in Oregon last week, and the horrific shootings that took place at an elementary school last Friday.
Each time another mass shooting takes place the nation engages in a heated debate on gun control, but perhaps none hit a nerve across America like the shooting last week in a Connecticut elementary school. In that shooting there were 27 deaths, including 20 children between the ages of 6 and 8.
Anytime a mass shooting on this scale occurs there will be calls for gun control, but the mere fact that the majority of victims in this act were children will certainly take the discussion to a new level. Anyone with a child had to feel the same pain last Friday when they read of the news of so many young children getting their lives cut short in such a violent manner.
Gun control advocates are quick to point out the obvious… that this sort of massacre would not occur if guns were not so easy to obtain and own. Pro-gun advocates will respond saying the problem is not guns, but the people that own them. They point out that people die in auto accidents, and yet cars are not banned; or children die drowning in swimming pools, but we do not want to ban pools. Of course there is a big difference between accidental deaths and intentional homicide, but their belief is that a death is a death, regardless of the circumstance.
There are valid arguments on both side of the debate, but one thing is for certain, America is a gun loving country and unless something changes we are going to see more and more shootings take place.
Perhaps the problem is not guns, but instead mental illness. America is not exactly known for its progressive treatments for the mentally ill. We tend to use our jail system to handle mentally ill patients instead of finding them the appropriate treatment. It goes without saying that we need to address the mental illness aspect of these massacres, but that still does not totall erase the fact that without guns these shootings could not have occurred. Sure, these people could have used knives, or a bomb, but the ease of doing either is nothing in-line with the ease of walking into a school or shopping mall with an AR-15 and unloading on a group of people.
Pro-gun people point out that responsible, legal ownership of guns is not a problem. If every gun owner took the responsible steps to safeguard their guns these massacres would not occur. They are right, but we are also learning the hard way that not every gun owner is responsible. Should we punish all gun owners based on the irresponsibility of a few? I suppose your answer to that question depends on whether or not you have been personally affected in your own life by gun violence.
Another argument of pro-gun people is that tighter gun controls would result in legal gun owners turning over their firearms, but criminals keeping theirs, thus creating an even more dangerous situation. They point out that cocaine is illegal, and it still finds its way into the hands of millions of people each day. Of course they are right, but does that mean we should try to get controls on at least some guns, such as semi-automatic long guns? It is a slippery slope, but at the least the nation should consider restoring the ban on assault rifles.
And of course, there is the Second Amendment. Our forefathers gave us the right to bear arms, and states that a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state. This makes sense, but how well regulated is the current situation? Did the founding fathers ever foresee guns such as the AR-15 being as widespread in popularity as it has become?
Following the Connecticut shootings, President Obama made an emotional speech, calling for “meaningful action to prevent more tragedies”. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has long been in favor of gun control, expressed displeasure with Obama’s statements, stating that the President needs to do more. He does not want meaningful action… he wants immediate action.
So should gun manufactures like Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc. (RGR) and Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (SWHC) be worried? Tighter gun control will definitely lead to lower gun sales, but how real is the concern, and would more debate on the issue actually work in their favor?
One of President Obama’s platforms during his first election was tighter gun control. Because of this, the day following his first election we saw the highest one day total of gun sales ever in the U.S. People were convinced he would try to take away their guns, so they bought in force before any action could be taken. In hindsight we see that buying was unnecessary, since Obama has not done anything to advance tighter gun controls.
And while there is more debate following the recent shooting sprees, it is highly unlikely that Obama will do anything on the issue now either. It is just too hot of a political topic, and he hands his hands full with other things such as the fiscal cliff.
Gun companies should not really be worried at all just yet. In fact, they are probably going to benefit from the current situation. The more gun control debate we see take place, the higher gun sales will be as people fear that time is running out to buy new guns. Gun companies will also see higher sales as people start to fear for their own safety, and believe that owning a gun will make them safer.
The harsh reality is that the more mass shootings we see in public places, the more we are going to see everyday Americans obtain concealed weapons permits for their own safety. It is a nasty cycle, and at the rate we are headed we are going to see more and more people carrying guns with them everywhere they go. That means your shopping malls, churches, and movie theatres.
My own personal belief is we need tighter gun controls. I do not buy into the idea that guns make people safe. The fewer guns on the street the better in my opinion, but I also realize that guns are not going anywhere. We are a heavily armed nation and we are going to stay that way.
For now gun makers are safe… whether that remains the case or not will depend on just how many more school shootings we see in the months and years to come. At some point the nation will say enough is enough, but we have not hit that point yet.
Gun owners need to take extra steps to guard their guns, and gun control advocates need to accept that changes need to be made in other areas such as the treatment of the mentally ill.
Our thoughts go out to all the victims and families in the Connecticut school shooting, and to all victims of gun violence across in the nation and around the world.