There is no genuine substance in arguing against enhanced firearms regulations in the United States. However, this dilemma is always conflated by a certain element of society, with the idea of guns being “taken away” from everyone. On the other hand, everyone knows, at this point, that there are more firearms than people in the country and the scale is only intensified when you realize what percentage of the population owns firearms. Every time something happens, a very influential sector of society argues that big government will swoop in with the ultimate goal of making sure no one has firearms. What that very group of people won’t tell you, is that rather than their lack of trust in each other, American gun ownership is purely driven by people’s lack of trust in their fellow Americans.
As for 2020, there are only around 137,000 federal law enforcement officers who are allowed to make arrests and carry firearms, according to the Department of Justice. There are around two million people in the U.S. Armed Forces, including the reserves, which also assumes that each person uses a firearm. If 40 percent of the American population owns firearms, it’s clear who has the monopoly numerically. This idea is only reinforced when one realizes that the military does not enforce laws. In 2019, the FBI concluded that there are around 700,000 sworn officers (not civilian employees of agencies), and in the case that somehow all guns are taken, that idea boldly assumes that local agencies would actually cooperate with federal laws. This week, you might’ve noticed what’s been happening in Missouri and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). In any case, the point is that the federal government could not magically, or even progressively, take everything away from a certain sector of society. The U.S. is simply too complicated for that to happen, and it’s to our collective benefit that this is the case.
Recently, Republican Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee is floating the idea of increased gun regulation in his state in response to the Nashville shooting. Whether something happens remains to be seen. We also learned this week that for the Kentucky shooting, the suspect allegedly bought firearms legally just six days before the incident. Not every state practices gun laws in the same fashion, and yes, that is precisely federalism working as intended, but it doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be uniform changes to the system. For one thing, it’s actually government agencies that need assistance on the issue as well. A recent investigation by Politico into the West Virginia facility that the ATF uses (National Tracing Center) to investigate the history of firearms, as requested by law enforcement agencies across the country, looks as if you weren’t even in America. This outdated facility and its systems are forced to do around 1,800 requests a day. Each request takes eight days to complete. Requests for tracing have only grown, ever since the facility started. And in next year’s budget for the ATF, Biden recognizes the problem and even has funding directed towards the National Tracing Center itself. Given everything that has ever happened, you might be able to realize the enormous scale of documents the facility has and what the workers have to deal with, including the painstaking navigation on how to protect, acquire, and maintain such documents.
Either way, federal agencies are not the only part of the solution. As I referred to earlier, the nation as a whole needs to come to a consensus on what gun laws should be. People have the right to firearms in the Constitution, and if you’ve been reading carefully so far, I’ve never argued against that right. However, I will take the liberty in saying that from a linguistic point of view, it is perhaps the most misinterpreted right in the Constitution, in American history. At the same time, this also alludes to one of the big problems that we face with gun regulations. People are constantly afraid of increased regulation, though any reasonable person might agree that you literally do not need a rocket launcher to protect yourself from what stirred you up at night or even from the thrill of it. While a significant portion of the population owns firearms, not all of them hunt, eliminating one otherwise common purpose of firearms. Self-protection incidents are also not nearly as common as they may seem, yet many people own multiple firearms for the thrill of having them and nothing else. Keep in mind that I’m not saying you don’t have the right to think you may need a firearm for self-protection in your household, but rather, it’s always the hypothetical prospect that causes a surge in gun purchases.
When it comes to the case of stockpiling firearms, which a notable number of Americans do, such people tend to be fairly responsible because they’ll be damned if they lose one. In the strange scenario where “Red Dawn” happens, people should note that the country is coming to the point (or already passed it) where the average person is overweight, and thus has a larger surface area to be shot at by a foreign intruder. I’m confident there are gun owners out there who believe they are as effective as Rambo or even a videogame character in a hypothetical situation that will very likely never happen. Jokes aside, one must still question those who stockpile, even though they are within their rights to. If you’re keeping track, you’ll realize this once again ties into the idea from the opening paragraph about Americans not trusting one another.
Public fear of governmental-induced regulations can also be sourced back to the Reagan years when the NRA was developing its current DNA (which, by the way, was once entirely for gun regulation before the conservative revolution). The infamous “nine words” are a large psychological factor in the fear of reform, which, at the same time, is ironic for one of the most prolific warmongers and regime change-inducers in American history. But that’s an argument for another day, which, for the record, is coming from someone who does like our war presidents. Take note that I’m not saying Reagan is the cause of every mass shooting since his administration, but rather a figure that is the head of state and government encouraging the constituency to be afraid of the very thing he represents. However, in the Clinton years, when the Republican Revolution came through, it turns out that Reagan, like other former presidents, favored the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban. In any case, the “nine words” are one of the damaging factors that correlate to government distrust since Watergate.
Unfortunately, no matter what aspirations the U.S. might have in favor of regulation, we are starting to become number than Linkin Park in response to mass shootings. Normalcy breeds complacency, which is the exact route the issue has been taking. Even worse, self-inflicted damage in recent years prevents the allure of bipartisanship on gun regulation, because that’s simply how popular the idea of “the government is coming to take your guns away” is, while not even remotely being true. Outrage culture will likely score another victory with Nashville and Louisville unless citizens change the playing field at the state level of politics to encourage federal development.