Gun Laws in America
by Marty Poehler
In this series on gun laws in America, we’ve looked at how people with different ideas about gun laws view each other. We’ve shown it’s a myth that there’s total disagreement on gun laws between the two sides and that they can’t find common ground.
Near universal agreement in some areas becomes obscured when both sides insist that all their demands be met. If we look closer, it’s surprising how often shared views are there that can lead to laws to save lives.
Background checks, which we talked about in our last article, is one such area. Just about everyone agrees they should be done when someone buys a gun. There’s disagreement on what purchases they should cover. Some say they should cover every gun purchase, while others say the status quo is sufficient -- where they are done only when guns are sold by a licensed dealer. We’ve suggested the current system be kept – and funded with additional spending so it can work properly. This would avoid anomalies such as the Charleston shooter buying a gun and killing nine churchgoers, when he should have been blocked from getting the gun.
Another area of agreement is that guns should be kept locked up or disabled so they don’t get into the hands of those who weren’t meant to have them, including children. 1 2 This seems like common sense. It’s estimated a half million firearms are lost or stolen from private residences every year – often going on the black market to criminals. 3 There were 20,000 accidental deaths of kids who took relatives’ guns or relatives of friends’ guns from 2005 to 2014. 4 There were 6,000 minors who intentionally shot themselves with relatives’ guns or relatives of friends’ guns from 2004 to 2014. 5
These especially vulnerable people didn’t need to get shot or die. Common sense - locking up the guns so there was no access to them by kids or those thinking about suicide – could have prevented their deaths. “Safe Storage” or “Ethan Laws” (named after a 15-year-old in Connecticut who accidentally killed himself with his friend’s father’s gun) are under debate or being enacted at the state and national levels. The best of them include:
-Requiring child-proof safety locks on newly-manufactured guns.
- Making it mandatory that these safety locks be used to disable the gun when it isn’t being carried by the owner or under his immediate control, or that guns are locked up when not in use.
Americans strongly support laws requiring the safe storage of firearms.
We urge Congress to act. It would prevent the deaths of thousands of vulnerable people.
Though there are strong and sometimes opposing views on how to interpret the Second Amendment – we Americans don’t have to bulldoze over each other as if those on a different side didn’t matter! We can talk with one another – and bring about with cooler minds sensible laws we agree on.
1 Colleen L. Barry et al., “Perspective: After Newtown — Public Opinion on Gun Policy and Mental Illness,“ 368 New Eng. J. Med. (March 21, 2013): 1077-1081, http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1300512?query=featured_home found on
2 Politico Morning Consult Poll: Gun control support surges in polls, Steven Shepard, 02/28/2018
3 ATF, Following the Gun: Enforcing Federal Laws Against Firearms Traffickers (Jun. 2000): xi, 41, http://everytown.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Following-the-Gun_Enforcing-Federal-Laws-Against-Firearms-Traffickers.pdf. ⤴︎ found on
4 Based on the most recent available fatal and non-fatal firearm injury data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”). From 2005 to 2014, 18,373 minors in the US were hospitalized for unintentional, non-fatal gunshot injuries. An additional 968 minors died from unintentional gunshot injuries over this period. 485 of these victims were aged 0-12 at the time of death. “Injury Prevention & Control: Data and Statistics,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed June 18, 2018, http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/fatal_injury_reports.html and http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/nfirates2001.html
5 According to CDC Fatal Injury and Non-Fatal Injury Reports data. This includes 4,557 minors who died from firearm suicides and 1,621 who were hospitalized or treated in emergency rooms for intentional, self-inflicted gunshot injuries over this period. found on
6 Renee Johnson, et al, “Who are the owners of firearms used in adolescent suicides?,” Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior, Vol. 40(6) (Dec. 2010): 609–11, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3085447/.; David C. Grossman, et al, “Self-inflicted & Unintentional Firearm Injuries Among Children & Adolescents: The Source of the Firearm,” 153 Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine (Aug. 1999): 875, http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/153/8/875 found on