Gun control: a national security question?

America, land of the free, home of the … firearm? Of course, it is. Guns are as American as apple pie and John Wayne. It’s simply ingrained in the fabric of the American mentality. What pundits and politicians continually miss in this regard is the impact that gun control could have on United States national security.
 
We traditionally think of national security as policies and defense against threats external to the U.S. Current national security discourse entails discussions of terrorism, erratic states like North Korea or how to deal with that bulldog in the eastern hemisphere, VladimirPutin. 
 
What surprises me is how often our discussion of national security ignores real threats to everyday American citizens.
 
Why is this the case? Why are national security considerations and discussions of reducing gun-related violence not one and the same? 
 
Well, one answer — which I have heard people on both sides of the political spectrum offer — is that these incidents do not pose a direct threat to the political and social structures of American society, while threats of extremist terrorism or erratic state action do.
 
As much as I agree with the idea that terrorism and capricious state action (like North Korea’s experimentation with nuclear weaponry) certainly pose a threat to U.S. national security, I would pose a parallel argument: so does widespread gun-related violence.
 
When looking at the resources appropriated to strengthening our defense in this regard, it becomes quite fuzzy as to what our national security priorities are. First, we must ask ourselves, “What inspires Congress to act?” 
 
Moreover, we must ask, “What drives Congress in appropriating funds?” Is it public sentiment? Or is it lobbying efforts? 
 
To me, Congress is motivated by a number of factors. Since 9/11, Congress has treated terrorism as the No. 1 threat to national security. And many people would argue the same, rightfully so.
 
However, according to an analysis by CNN, since 9/11, we’ve lost 3,380 American lives to acts of terrorism, while spending well over $1.6 trillion on preventing those incidents. 
 
But between 2001 and 2013, according to CNN, we lost 406,496 American lives to widespread gun violence. 
 
The second half of this letter will appear Wednesday