On March 22, 2021 there was a mass shooting in Boulder, CO that left multiple dead and even more hurt. On the very same day, Iowa state Republican senators voted to get rid of permits as a necessity when carrying guns in public. Guns have always played an essential part in American culture, no matter whether the individual uses them or not. On a national level, guns and the rights attached to them are at the forefront of United States politics. There are two major sides to the argument that correlate to the two main political parties of the country, and each state swings to a certain one. There are people who advocate for stricter gun control, and there are those who fight for less control and more guns. This not only affects the gun culture in each state, but also the future of the United States as a whole. Looking at these two sides to the firearm argument can provide insight into the future of the gun culture within the United states, and what it will look like moving forward.
With the number of mass shootings on the rise throughout the past decade, including the famous Sandy Hook Elementary massacre, the statistics involving those who want stricter gun laws have steadily increased in their favor. Since then, stricter gun laws have slowly started to make their way into state governments. While this mostly can be applied to high capacity shooting firearms such as automatic and semiautomatic guns, a large population of people want more gun control for guns in general.
According to the Gifford’s Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, since the Sandy Hook massacre occurred there have been 210-gun laws signed into effect at the state level to promote gun safety. These laws expanded the background checks in 7 states and even made them a requirement in 4 others that had not previously required background checks. Background checks are a comprehensive analysis of both criminal and mental health records, and can have the power to deny someone the purchase of a firearm. 90% of Americans say that they are in favor of requiring a background check before being able to purchase a gun; however, loopholes within state regulations say otherwise. If someone is an unlicensed firearm owner and they want to sell a gun online or at a gun show, this can happen in most states without any kind of background check.
While there are not many laws requiring background checks for state gun sales, there are even fewer laws that deal with ghost guns. A ghost gun is a gun that is made in an individual’s home, whether with a 3D printer or with a kit, and is basically untraceable by the United States government/metal detectors. What makes the gun untraceable is the lack of a serial number, as without the serial number the gun cannot be identified. This, therefore, creates a possible chain of owners that is pretty much undetectable by anyone trying to identify any of them.
As of 2021, eight states have enacted laws that ‘partially address’ the issue of ghost guns. The eight states mentioned above are consequently the same ones who tend to sway more to the side of stricter gun control (ex: California, New Jersey, Hawaii, etc.).
On the other side of the argument, there are people who believe the less gun control laws, the better. A famous organization that supports the discontinuation of stricter gun laws called the National Rifle Association (NRA) helps to provide an in-depth, passionate look at the policies surrounding what exactly someone can do with a gun and how to get one. On the website, one can find hundreds of links to articles, classes, publications, and videos on everything there is to know about guns.
One of the big movements from the NRA within the past year included making guns accessible even in a state of emergency. With the Covid-19 pandemic spreading like wildfire, a large majority of businesses, including gun and ammunition stores, were shut down. The NRA has been, and continues to, fight to prohibit the closing down of firearm-selling businesses. They have accomplished this to a degree, passing bills such as the West Virginia S.B. 458, the North Dakota S.B. 2344, and the Kansas S.B. 40. These bills mentioned above protect gun businesses in these states from being closed down when in a state of emergency (States push to protect gun owners during emergencies).
To discuss the future of firearm culture within the United States would be an incomplete argument if one did not bring up the topic of the second amendment. The second amendment is a small but mighty part within the United States Constitution, it provides the basis for a majority of arguments that side with the concept of having less gun control and more guns. The second amendment reads as follows:
To say that there have been many interpretations of this would be an understatement; however, this fragment of the constitution holds the key to the future of gun laws within the United States and is most commonly used to propel gun culture forward.
James Ouimet, Executive Director of the NRA-ILA, states in his weekly column, “Support for the Second Amendment has been, and should be, bipartisan.” (States push to protect gun owners during emergencies). In his column he continues to discuss the second amendment and how it has contributed to American politics throughout the years. He believes that the constitution is not a partisan document, and should not be treated as such. For reference, the term “partisan” refers to when something is in support of a specific party or cause. This term is widely used within United States politics, and can be found in many arguments over what exactly the second amendment means. Looking at the vocabulary even further, the term “bipartisan” can be defined as when two opposing parties work together to come up with a common solution.
To some, trying to keep up with American politics via traditional news sources can seem blurry or confusing. Ouimet states that, according to a November 2019 Rasmussen poll, a mere 24 percent [of United States citizens] support repealing the Second Amendment (States push to protect gun owners during emergencies). This translates to the idea that a far larger population of United States citizens support the second amendment within the constitution and that there is a general bipartisan respect towards it. With that knowledge in mind, one can begin to look at what the future holds in terms of gun culture here in the United States of America.
Looking at the culture of guns and freedom that the United States has cultivated is all-encompassing; one would have to look at the entire history, right down to where it all started with the slave trade. From that point on, guns have shaped the United States’ culture into one of gun-slinging cowboys and patriotic politics. At least, that is how it seems from the outside looking in. Upon further looking, one might find that the foundation upon which a gun-culture is built on is not as sturdy as one might think. There are two major political parties at war with guns and the cultural role they will play moving forward. On one side, there are people who may not want to get rid entirely of guns but feel they need to be more controlled with stricter laws and regulations. A surplus of mass shootings and deaths from gun violence have contributed to this. On the other side, there are people who believe the opposite; people who believe that guns are made for protection and are necessary in order to fulfill that purpose. All of this knowledge begs one question, where does this lead the future of guns inside the United States?
With a newly elected president and a seemingly controversial presidential election just behind the United States, there is not much known right now except for this: the role of guns in the United States is not one that will be going away without major implications, as it has played a huge role in the history leading up to this point. Famous organizations such as the NRA have amplified the voices of many Americans who refuse to give up not only a physical means of protection, but their symbol of liberation. The future of guns lies in the hands of the citizens of the United States, using politics as their voice. While there is uncertainty of what role guns will play in the United States decades down the road, research and the American people have proven that it will take bipartisan efforts to come together and form a society where guns play a legal, safe role.