Gun Control: It Is More Than a Social Issue

By: Katie Schaefer-SS Afternoon Honorbound

As the end of the second decade of the twenty-first century begins to come to an end, the argument for stricter gun control laws becomes more heated every year.  Many people look at the issue as a major social issue, since it is becoming easier to gain access to guns. But most people do not see the economic science behind the issue.  Through gun control, economics demonstrates the opportunity costs if there is to be a less supply of guns produced in America, and how that affects the economy.

One of the major arguments for stricter gun control is that if guns are harder to get, then there will be less deaths because heavy assault weapons are typically used for mass shootings.  In the global market, the U.S. sales overseas in guns is $66.5 billion dollars a year[1].  The opportunity costs of stricter gun control would be manufacturers would have to produce some other goods or service. But this might be a good thing. Instead of manufacturing guns, engineers for Smith and Wesson, who are one of the leading makers of guns[2], could manufacture goods that help society.  Instead of building guns, they can create better goods to save lives, like better medical equipment.  So, the opportunity costs of making guns is not using engineers to help benefit society.

If gun control legislation might limit the number of guns on the market, it may limit specific types or it may just make them harder to buy. This can be represented by a left shift in Supply, since with a less supply, the prices for guns would increase.  However, fear of the government taking away guns from citizens could cause a spike in demand every time there is a mass shooting because people would fear that the gun control legislation might take away all the guns. This results in a right shift in the demand curve representing an increased demand for guns at a given price.  Also, the market for semi-automatic assault rifles, like the Sig Sauer MCX used in the Orlando killings[3], a ban on these kinds of guns could result in criminal black markets popping up to meet the demand for illegal weapons. So, what could happen if there is a tighter ban on guns?  Result: higher prices due to low supply and higher demands.  Unfortunately, this would not raise the GDP, since these weapons would be sold illegally.

All though there are good social incentives for why there should be stricter gun control, economists would point out that any restriction in trade could have negative consequences for the economy.  But we as a country will have to weigh both the economic impact and the social impact before the government decides what is best for the nation.

[1] Shanker, Thom. “U.S. Arms Sales Make Up Most of Global Market.” The New York Times. August 26, 2012. Accessed June 20, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/27/world/middleeast/us-foreign-arms-sales-reach-66-3-billion-in-2011.html?_r=0.

[2] “Shooting Industry Magazine.” Shooting Industry Magazine. Accessed June 20, 2016. https://www.shootingindustry.com/u-s-firearms-industry-today-2015/

[3] Gibbons-Neff, Thomas. “The Gun the Orlando Shooter Used Was a Sig Sauer MCX, Not an AR-15. That Doesn’t Change Much.” Washington Post. June 14, 2016. Accessed June 21, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2016/06/14/the-gun-the-orlando-shooter-used-was-not-an-ar-15-that-doesnt-change-much/.

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Nelson, James. “6 Ludicrous Myths About Gun Control.” Nerd Union. February 23, 2016. Accessed June 21, 2016. http://www.nerdunion.us/2016/02/23/6-ludicrous-myths-about-gun-control/.

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