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We Need to Talk About Gun Control

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The news of mass shootings in America has become a depressingly common occurrence. Each time the same thing happens: the debate on gun control.

This year two of the worst shootings happened in America, in a Colorado theatre and a Connecticut elementary school. This excellent Washington Post article has a run down of shootings in America for 2012. What is really interesting about the article is that it tells you what type of gun was used in each shooting. Some of these shootings were done with military assault rifles or automatic weapons. To have a gun is one thing, but for a civilian to buy this type of weapon, which only purpose is to kill people, is something that should be re-examined. In fact it was former President George W Bush that allowed a federal ban on assault weapons to expire in 2004 when he was president. President Obama has previously mentioned his support for a ban on assault weapons.

Yes, I did say those guns are used to only kill people. Aren't all guns for that? Well, no. Farmers need guns, guns can be used for shooting clays, or animals. For hunting and even for protection. I am not pro-gun, but I do not think the issue is as clear as the hordes on Twitter and Facebook think it is. If you make guns illegal in America then there is an obvious problem: you drive the gun trade underground and people who want to protect themselves would not be able to legally own a gun. I don't want to live in a world where only the bad people have guns.

On the same day of the mass shooting in Newtown there was a similar attack on children in China, but with a knife as a weapon instead. No children actually died in the China attack, but there have been fatalities in similar attacks. it does raise a point: a gun is only a weapon when a human being is holding it. But so is anything else when there is an intention to kill.

President Barack Obama promised "meaningful action", after the Connecticut shooting. Also saying, "As a country, we have been through this too many times."

The fact is that most gun legislation is set by states rather than federal government, and Connecticut has relatively tight firearms restrictions by US standards. Some people are saying that the shootings are a mental health problem rather than a gun problem, but what is abundantly clear is that tighter regulation is needed.

According to a 2012 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the US has 3.2 firearms homicides per 100,000 population compared with 1.6 for Canada, 1.0 for Australia and 0.1 for England and Wales,

There are an estimated 300 million guns in America, nearly one for every one of the 315 million Americans in America, and the National Rifle Association (NRA) has more than 4 million members. America is a nation where guns are embedded into it's very foundation, there constitution even declares the 'right to bear arms', even if guns were banned where would all these guns go? What is clear is that we have to talk about gun control, but solving the problem will not be easy.