Gun control policies are set to go through some stricter changes next year. This comes as a result of firearms violence incidents. Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, commissioned a panel after the brutal murder of a woman in order to decide which clarifications are needed for firearm laws. Furthermore, the commission also discussed about the strict laws for gun owners, and whether they should be lessened or not.
On one side there are the supporters of gun carrying rights, like the NRA (the National Rifle Association), who believe that everybody should have a right to defend themselves, and that such regulations are violating the freedom of the citizens of the United States. On the other side there are the opponents who believe that gun ownership leads to mass murders, homicides and suicides. But what are the lawmakers planning?
First of all, let us take a look back to 2015. A democratic lawmaker has introduced a bill in Illinois that is set to revoke the firearms owner ID of a citizen whose name is on the terror watch list of the FBI. This will of course lead to the confiscation of the citizen’s firearms. The bill from Illinois was followed by another one in the state of Nevada. A democratic state senator introduced the document which will forbid citizens whose names are on the Federal No-Fly List from buying firearms all across the state. This bill is suspiciously similar to a certain legislation that did not pas Congress.
But there are others working in the same direction, like Mike Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City. Bloomberg is trying to create an initiative related to the Nevada ballot in 2016 that would transform the firearms private transfers into criminal acts. He has even funded several groups which will propose gun control initiatives in other states such as Arizona and Maine. Furthermore, a democratic state representative from New Mexico has already taken measures toward another bill that would criminalize firearm transfers made by dealers who do not own a license during gun shows.
Not even New York, Virginia or Texas escaped from the changes that are planned. Two democratic lawmakers took steps toward an initiative set to limit the number of ammunition purchases in New York to two times of the capacity of a firearm during a three month period. Mark Herring, the Virginia Attorney General voiced his intention of stopping the decision of commonwealth which is set to be active from February 1, 2016.
The decision would have permitted the reciprocity of carrying concealed firearms across 25 states. On the other hand, starting next year, citizens of the state of Texas will be allowed to open carry their firearms even if they are holding a concealed carry license. Even more, starting in August next year, they will be able to carry their concealed firearms also on college campuses.
Going back to the commission appointed by Gov. Christie and the recent changes in gun control policy, it is important to mention that the panel ended with a series of permissive recommendations. Gov. Christie has previously made a long report of 34 pages for the Firearm Purchase and Permitting Study Commission last June in 2015.
The report was intended to propose easing certain restrictions across three aspects of the gun law of the state of New Jersey. Gov. Christie proposed several changes, including the standardization of the processing of applications related to firearms, clarifying the rules for people from other states who are legally transporting their firearms, and broadening the standards that explain the need for carrying a gun.
Christie’s suggestions were not welcomed by everyone. Ceasefire New Jersey’s legislative director, Dolores Phillips, stated that the governor is not working in the best interest of New Jersey’s residents, as they all support strict gun control. Instead, Philips believes that Christie is trying to gain support from the primary republican presidential voters, of which many are part of the National Rifle Association. What is also interesting to observe is the governor’s change of ideas and attitude, since before his presidential run he was vouching for the strict gun controls that took place in New Jersey.
On a global scale, there are more than 875 million arms of small caliber held by armed forces, law enforcement and civilians. Out of this total, an astounding 650 million arms are owned by civilians, and 270 million of them by United States citizens. This is truly a great amount, if we compare it with the total of 200 million arms controlled by the state military forces and the 26 million arms held by law enforcement agencies. Last but not least, gang members own between two and ten million firearms, while armed groups which are not related to states own around 1.4 million arms.
Many studies and research programs have taken place in order to understand the ways in which carrying a gun in society changes its citizens, and whether it truly is one of the causes of murders and attacks. For example, in 2003, a study conducted by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine proved that the states with stricter gun regulations recorded fewer suicides than the others. Another study from 2005 concluded that gun laws could not be associated with reductions in suicide or firearm homicide. However, the concealed carry law did influence the rates of firearm homicide.
The results of more recent studies performed in 2014 and 2015 showed that stricter firearm legislation is strongly related to smaller discharge rates, when referring to gun injuries that did not lead to death. Furthermore, it would seem that children who live in states with strict gun control policies are considered safer than the others.
What is also certain is that states who closely monitor gun dealers and gun licenses have recorded lower rates of homicides. Then there is also the study by Patterson and Kleck, who analyzed eighteen types of gun laws and their impact, as well as tried to link them to major acts of violence or crimes across 170 cities in the United States. They found out that gun control policies had little to no effect on suicide or violent crime rates.
In the end, it is difficult to determine whether gun control policies should become stricter or not. There are studies that can prove the opinions of both sides, or none of them at all. Furthermore, representatives from both sides can sound reasonable and logical, and still the answer is yet to be found. However, if we consider our personal safety the most important aspect of the whole affair, then we should make sure we can use our firearms when we truly need them.