Why Can't the USA Control Gun Crime?

By: Ben Thrussell

In the light of the Orlando attacks in Florida, where 50 people were killed and a further 50 injured, President Obama can only look on in despair. In his seven and a half years as President, his one main objective when he first came to office has still not yet been achieved.

Granted, in his first term, Mr President had more complex and worrying situations to deal with: the global recession needed to be solved, as did the extreme poverty that followed it. However, in his second term he promised that he would tackle guns, introduce gun control and end the madness that has overshadowed a successful presidency that introduced a functioning, affordable health service.

Unfortunately for him, Mr Obama has faced considerable opposition to gun laws from Republicans and Democrats alike. Many agree that weapon control is unambiguously unconstitutional, going against the Second Amendment which states that all citizens “have the right to bear arms”. Clearly this was not a piece of legislation that foresaw the development of semi-automatic machine guns but, with the continued threat of terrorism, this law has no place in the 21st century.

It is a great shame that Mr Obama has not been able to pass gun legislation through the Congress, but Congress is a tough egg to crack. On average, the US Congress has an approval rating of just 15%; that is, only 15% of bills and legislation proposed actually make it to the White House to be signed into law by the President.

What makes it more difficult is that this legislation would be a constitutional amendment. This requires a 2/3 majority in the House of Representatives, a 2/3 majority in the Senate, and then requires the ratification of ¾ states (38/50). The final requirement is for the Supreme Court, whose job it is to make sure all proposed legislation is constitutional, to accept this. Until the Second Amendment is repealed, nobody will be able to do much about gun control.

Whereas in Britain an amendment to the Constitution requires only a simple Act of Parliament, maybe a referendum as well, the US Government must receive the support of 38 states. This is unlikely as the Southern states of Texas, Alabama, New Mexico, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Georgia are all highly unlikely to vote for gun law. This means that only five other states need to vote against the bill to reject it entirely.

Since he came to office in 2009, Mr Obama has faced two of the most heart-breaking gun crimes that could possibly have happened. The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 reduced the President to tears in his press conference following the attack, where 20 students were shot dead. The Orlando nightclub shooting in 2016 was described by the President as being “a horrific massacre”, but he is still unable to do much about it.


The USA has let gun crime get out of control, and is beginning to make the country look chaotic. If it carries on for much longer, gun crime will tarnish the US reputation for peace and liberty. It could have economic knock-on effects due to a drop in tourism, and could bring into question the success of the Obama presidency. Most Britons are appalled by the regular occurrence of such massacres, and have a small feeling of embarrassment for the US every time it happens. The USA needs some sort of gun control, and it needs it now.
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