Written by Janet Wang
When thinking of sports, many envision kicking a goal, scoring a touchdown or hitting a home run. However, with the popularity of gun sports steadily increasing, recreational activities such as hunting and riflery may become prevalent in the community. These sports use lethal weapons for hobbies and entertainment, often resulting in major repercussions. Through gun sports, people can become numb to shooting and using weapons, accidents can occur and immoral hunting and killing can take place. It is necessary that these sports are limited and discouraged, as they present detrimental factors that result in harmful repercussions.
Gun sports cultivate an environment where youth can become desensitized to shooting and using weapons. The prevalence of guns in the hunting town of Rifle, Colorado led to concerns after residents saw that youth from other rural towns were involved in school shootings. Because of this, Rifle High School dis- allowed students from hunting during the start of the season in fear of a school shooting. This casual use of violence in gun sports can evolve into much more. When people are used to shooting recreationally, they lose sensitivity regarding guns, which can develop into harmful usage in the future. If people are used to killing animals or shooting at targets regularly, they may find comfort in these activities. A craving for power and dominance that guns provide to people may drive some to commit malicious actions. It is unhealthy for youth to rely on these dangerous sports as an outlet for stress, as they are likely to become accustomed to violence at an early age.
Additionally, gun sports are no strangers to accidents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 32,351 Americans were killed by firearms in 2011. However, 591 were considered accidental. When people are exposed to weapons in a recreational environment, they are unaware of the risks and dangers involved. In 2014, a 9-year-old girl accidentally shot and killed her shooting instructor, Charles Vacca, at an Arizona gun range. The girl was first assisted in firing the weapon, but when she tried it by herself, the gun recoiled and a bullet hit Vacca’s head. Moreover, in 2015, a 16-year-old boy was on a hunting trip with family and friends in the Sequoia National Forest when he was accidentally shot in the torso and killed. Both of these tragedies involve youth, which is common in accidental deaths. In fact, John Vernick, co-director of the John Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, says that one in five accidental deaths involve a minor. These accidents, among many others could have been prevented if gun activities were not regularly regarded as a sport. Because these guns are accessible to everyone, people are able to use lethal weapons for any recreational activity without restriction.
When our Founding Fathers wrote the Bill of Rights, they intended for the people to use guns for protection and defense—not recreational sporting uses— and it should be kept that way. Though activities like hunting were essential to the survival of the human population in the 1850s when the shotguns were used to kill birds, recreational gun use now is cruel and immoral. These activi- ties are only for the purpose of killing an innocent animal for entertainment. Only some animals are killed instantly, while the majority are left to suffer. In fact, a British study discovered that only 11 percent of deer who had been shot two or more times died. The rest were suffering for at least 15 minutes before dying. In addition, if more people turn to hunting as a hobby, ecosystems can be severely disrupted. For instance, animals like wolves have strong family bonds. Therefore, if one is killed, it devastates a whole pack. This sets off a chain reaction, which affects more than just the wolves. Most hunters kill the stronger male animals, leaving disproportionate male to female ratios and an overall weaker health of the herd. Also, hunting contributes to the extinction of animals. According to Live Science, animals such as lions, elephants and leopards are currently being driven to extinction as a result of hunting.
Shooting sports are unnecessary activities that use deadly weapons for the thrill factor. People become desensitized to killing and weapons and many are injured. Guns should not be used in any way recreationally and its prevalence in today’s sporting culture should be eliminated.