Gun violence and control is an ever-changing argument that appears to only be rising.

Gun violence and control is an ever-changing argument that appears to only be rising.

“More Ohioans died from firearms in 2021 than almost any year on record, according to preliminary data from the Ohio Department of Health.”

Firearm homicides in the U.S occur nearly 25 times higher than in other countries. Furthermore, suicide by gun occurs nearly 10 times more than in other countries. At the current rate, it’s estimated that 1 out of 100 Ohio children will die by a gun. A staggering and frightening number. The United States averages nearly 110 deaths from a firearm each day. Six out of 10 deaths by firearms are suicide. 

Citizens learn how to shoot and handle weapons at conceal carry class.

In 2020, Ohio had 25 mass shootings and in 2021, there were 33 mass shootings. The trend is only rising and getting worse, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Ohio has now passed House Bill 215 allowing for anyone to lawfully conceal carry a weapon without training or a concealed carry license. Approximately there are 393 million civilian-held firearms in the U.S. – which is around 120 guns per 100 citizens. The most interesting statistic is there are more guns than there are people in the United States. 

“You can’t stop people from acquiring firearms. Gun control is extremely difficult if not impossible. Even if you were to stop gun manufacturing today and make firearms illegal there are still so many guns in circulation it’ll always be that way.”

Lieutenant Micheal Lewis (of Kent State PD)

Gun regulation and restriction is a topic that is very controversial. It rivals the topics of abortion and many other standing points our politicians run their platforms off of. 

Wade Gallion shoots a firearm during shooting practice.

Domestic Violence and Guns also have a direct correlation. Firearms were the weapon most commonly used by males to commit murder on females. 58% of female domestic violence homicide victims are killed by gun conflict. When an abuser has a gun, a domestic violence victim is five times more likely to be killed. Furthermore, one woman in the U.S is fatally shot by her abuser every 14 hours. 

Illegal possession of firearms is the biggest concern to police officers. In fact, most crimes and homicides are committed with illegally possessed firearms.

“There has been a significant increase in illegal gun possession these past few years,” Lewis said. “In 2021 alone we seized 52 firearms that were possessed unlawfully compared previously to 2020 where we only had 21 firearms seized. It was even lower than that in previous years. We are now seeing an alarming increase in illegally possessed firearms.”

In an average year, 1,529 die, and 3,552 are wounded by guns in Ohio. Ohio has the 20th-highest rate of gun violence in the US. The rate of gun deaths increased 34% from 2010 to 2019, in comparison there was only a 17% increase nationwide. 61% of gun deaths in Ohio are by suicide.  The gun suicide rate among white men in Ohio increased by 27% from 2010 to 2019.

Death total by firearms from 2007 until 2021 in Ohio. (Drag mouse on the line to see the exact number)

“Adding gun restrictions will only take weapons away from lawful and good people, you can’t take away guns from bad people when most of them acquire them unlawfully anyways. So why would you even try to take them away from the people trying to protect themselves and use them lawfully?”

Drew Fetchik (Pro-2nd amendment student) said.

With the new Ohio House Bill 215, even more people will unlawful possess firearms and put officers and citizens in a more dangerous spot.

“You were given training on how to handle a firearm before,” Lewis said. “More importantly and this is something I really want to focus on, you were trained on how to interact with police when you are in possession of a firearm.”

Before the new concealed carry law that has now been passed, citizens were required to inform law enforcement if they were in possession of a concealed weapon whenever engaging with an officer. Under the new law that will go into effect in June, you no longer have to inform officers unless you are directly asked.

“Many people that will now be carrying weapons have no training and no idea how to interact with law enforcement while carrying a weapon.” Officer Jordan said. 

Clayton Gallion shoots a firearm during shooting practice.

Among the counties in Ohio, Jefferson Country had the highest gun death rate, followed by Jackson County and Pike County. However, Ashland County had the lowest gun death rate, followed by Holmes Country and Delaware County.

Demographically in Ohio, young African American males are impacted by firearm homicide 25 times higher than White males.

“Suicide is a rising issue among college students and everyone, strengthening gun restrictions would help lower that number, Mason Ziegenfuss said. “Anything that can lessen gun crime or suicide numbers would be an immense help and step in the right direction.”

How each death was reported when a gun was involved in Ohio. (Drag the mouse on each block to see the exact number)

Suicide as talked about earlier is a huge concern and is having a constant rise in the college community and among older generations.

Kent State Police officers post-training photo.

“As Ohio policymakers debate firearm safety legislation, it is important that they consider the latest data on the trends between suicide, homicide, and firearms,” HPIO president Amy Rohling McGee said in a news release.

Firearm suicides account for more than half of all suicide deaths in the United States. Multiple studies have linked the accessibility of firearms with higher suicide rates: States with the highest rates of household firearm ownership have higher rates of suicide overall than states with the lowest household firearm ownership rates. 

“The issue is guns are too easy to access for children and kids at home,” Ziegenfuss said. “I think some parents leave them out and it can all happen so fast. There needs to be more regulation on how to properly handle and store your guns. The new house bill that was just passed will now only increase our issues and cause more distress for our law enforcement.”

Research shows that access to a gun in the home increases the risk of suicide death by a staggering 300%. Nearly 90% of those who attempt suicide with a firearm will not survive. Studies show that storing firearms locked and unloaded can be an effective measure to reduce suicidal attempts.

“We are sworn to protect the constitution,” Officer Jordan said. “We will always do that and protect our citizen’s second amendment. However, that does not mean everyone should be allowed to possess a firearm or illegally purchase one. There should be a process and only the law-abiding citizens should possess them.”

Gun instructor shows how to properly hold and pull out your handgun at training.

Mississippi, Wyoming, Louisiana, Alaska, Missouri, and Alabama have the highest gun death rates in the Nation; Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New York have the lowest gun death rates in the Nation.

The trend here is that the states with the least gun restrictions have the most gun homicides and suicides while the states with the most gun restrictions have the least gun homicides and suicides.

Researchers with the American Journal for Public Health found states with concealed carry laws like Ohio’s were associated with an 11% increase in handgun homicide rates than those without. The National Bureau of Economic Researchers found states experienced about a 14% higher rate of violent crime after adopting a new concealed carry permitting system similar to Ohio’s current one.

Whether you are pro-second amendment or not, everyone can all agree that the current numbers and data are very disturbing and only are increasing. Furthermore, they can be expected to increase in Ohio with now fewer restrictions on guns, and possession of them according to the data shown. 

“At the end of the day we all want to feel safe,” Fetchik said. “There’s nothing safer than allowing law-abiding citizens to own firearms to protect themselves and their families. People will continue to acquire guns and commit crimes un-lawfully, it’s up to our law enforcement and ourselves to protect our families and rights.”

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