America: It’s all about guns!

Recent events, including the shooting of Congresswoman Gabriel Gifford’s and new municipal gun laws, have reignited the gun debate in America.

Guns are found nearly everywhere in the US. From retail stores, to rallies, to the hands of politicians running for office, guns are a part of the American culture. With a population of 307 million people, civilians in the US own an estimated 300 million firearms.

The US leads the global community in firearm ownership. Gun ownership and gun rights are one of, if not the most, talked about political issues. The US falls far behind other developed nations in curtailing gun violence and gun related deaths. Over 30,000 Americas die annually due to gun violence and an estimated 200,000 more are injured.

Previously, one Georgia town took the debate in a new direction, instead of debating one’s right to own a gun, they have made it mandatory. Lawmakers in New Hampshire lifted bans on carrying guns into the State Capital. Now, five South Dakota legislators have introduced a bill that would require any adult over 21 years of age to buy a firearm for the purpose of their own self protection. The law would exclude only those who are otherwise bared from owning a weapon.

On top of new laws, a recent sting orchestrated by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg uncovered just how easy it is to obtain guns in the US State of Arizona. The mayor sent New York City police to Arizona, armed with video cameras; they entered a gun show and purchased semiautomatic weapons without having to complete background checks. The undercover officers even hinted they may fail background checks or be unfit for ownership, but the seller sold the weapons anyway.

Doug Giles, the host and founder of ClashRadio.com and a columnist for TownHall.com said common sense dictates that people must defend themselves and Americans have a right to do so with guns.

Wouldn’t you like to be protected?” he asked. “A gun helps you and affords you the wherewithal to protect yourself, or your offspring or your husband or your husband to protect you.”

Giles argued Americans have a right to a gun, with the exception of those who are criminals or mentally unstable, citing Jared Lee Loughner, the gunman who allegedly shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, as an example of someone who should never have been able to obtain a weapon.

He should never have been allowed to get a gun,” he said.

There should be some restrictions in place for the protection of others. He argued that people who willingly and knowingly sell weapons to people without issuing background checks should be arrested.

While Giles actively supports gun rights, and by his own admission “loves guns”, he is opposed to the South Dakota gun ownership mandate.

Government should not mandate us to buy anything, it’s ridiculous.” He said.

Author and activist Kevin Powell explained the Constitution is clear on a right to own a gun, but cracking down on background checks is necessary.

We have a culture of violence that needs to be dealt with,” he said.

The issue is not over a right to carry a gun, but over securing society from gun violence. Changes are needed to US policies, he argued.

Background checks, that’s a major thing,” said Powell. “No body is trying to take away your guns.”

It is one thing to own guns, owning guns allows for those who hunt and shoot for non-violent reasons to continue. Tackling violence does not end gun ownership, he argued. We need to address flaws in background checks and regulations to protect people while allowing non-violent owners of guns to continue their ownership.