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Not long ago, the problem of gun control has been raised by the President of the United States and Democratic members of Congress. By and large, this acute problem has become one of the main topics chosen by teachers and professors. The latter are pushing their students to think about this issue and prepare the assignments that will analyze the ways to limit gun violence. This topic is not as simple as it may seem at first. The reason is that the problem of gun control is rather controversial. In addition, the emotional ramifications of this theme make such writing task a real obstacle for a great number of students.
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Is The Second Amendment a Real Threat to Us?
Recently, the gun control issue has been thrust into the limelight due to the school shooting that occurred last December. The representatives of the Democratic Party have decided to capitalize on the incident pushing forward their agenda of limiting gun rights. Generally, there are different opinions on the subject. However, I should declare that I am for strengthening gun control. Undoubtedly, everybody has the right to bear arms according to the Second Amendment. Nevertheless, the security in schools and institutional affiliations as we as other public places must be heightened as it is of vital importance and can safe a great number of lives.
The Gun Issue: Why an Unlimited Right to Bear Arms Must Be Restricted
For many years, guns have been used for altering contemporary warfare. The risk connected with weapons is very high as it is simply in their mere nature. There are those who believe that the pivotal aim of the arms is to protect. However, a lot of people claim that guns were made to destroy and kill the target. A scholar from the University of Chicago Law, Frank Zimring, indicated the following: “The rate of knife deaths per 100 reported knife attacks was less than 1/5 the rate of gun deaths per 100 reported gun attacks” (722). This statistical data proves that in most cases the use of guns causes death more often than other forms of weaponry. But, what if we can do something to avoid the unnecessary death? What if this unfortunate probability can be decreased?
In the political system of the United States, the topic of gun control has been a debate for many years. However, the recent shootings threw the spotlight on this acute problem. The language of the Second Amendment has become the stumbling block for both proponents and opponents of gun control. According to the Bill of Rights, “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” (U.S. Constitution). This sentence is rather multifaceted and causes many quarrels connected with its simple diction. The reason is that the phrase legal stances can be variously interpreted. The largest gun advocacy organization in the United States, the NRA (National Rifle Association), hosts “a wide range of firearms-related public interest activities of the National Rifle Association of America and other organizations that defend and foster the Second Amendment rights of all law-abiding Americans.” However, it is worth mentioning that the gun advocates from the National Rifle Association cannot understand the conscionable limits to the Second Amendment. Antonin Scalia, a justice from the Supreme Court of the United States, used to claim that “like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.” The justice also continued, “it is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” What is more, it is worth mentioning that Scalia is considered to be one of the most conservative justices.
The Legislation Is Essential to Reducing Gun Violence
The actions taken by our government prove that the danger connected with gun use is extremely high and the general security of citizens is considered to be higher than the individual rights of gun owners. It can be proved due to the 1993 Brady Laws and 1994 Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act. What is more, the gun control proposal that was brought forward by the President proves that the total eradication of guns is unrealistic and extreme. The only way out is to adopt more strict regulation that would help to decrease the supply and access to the weapons. This step can assist in decreasing the number of gun deaths, reduce gun violence, and raise the level of the national security.
The implementation of Brady Laws was of cardinal importance as it was the first step towards imposing the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. According to the aforementioned laws, gun sales required certain waiting period, i. e. 5 days, on all gun sales. During that period, a full and rigorous background check could be carried out. What is more, multiple handgun purchases were not allowed to be reported to the police. Only those people who were mentally ill were forbidden from buying weapons. Bob Adams considered these regulations to have highly positive effects. Adams who used to release academic journal Gun Control Debate after the expiration of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban in 2004, declared the following “deaths from firearms […] dropped sharply, from almost 40,000 in 1993 to 29,700 in 2002. And the number of licensed gun dealers dropped from 285,000 to 104,000 in three years.” Adam indicated that both Brady Law and the Assault Weapons Ban influenced the overall security of the nation profoundly and positively. President Obama highlighted the need for the reinstatement of these laws and came up with gun control proposal.
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School Shooting in the Newtown
On January 8th, 2013, in the elementary school of the Newtown, Connecticut, a terrible shooting incident took place. 27 students and teachers were killed. This awful tragedy resulted in the serious social riot connected with gun control and the restrictions surrounding them. President Obama made a statement on that event and sent his condolences as well. Later, in a week, a press conference was called and Joe Biden, Vice President, claimed that certain measures would be taken to reduce gun violence. He used to indicate that President Obama had decided to make gun control stricter.
On January 15, 2013, it was confirmed that President had decided to increase the rigor and efficiency of the background check system, ban high-capacity gun magazines and assault rifles. The statement made by the President Obama called for a moral decision to be made. He suggested the implementation of monetary incentives for schools and the implementation of a national advertisement campaign on gun safety. It is worth mentioning that the proposal made by the President was a reinstatement of the gun ban of 1994.
A Battle That Is Going to Take Place
The corner stone of the American political system is a balance between freedom and security. One can assert that the problem of gun control can be considered a prime example for this. One way or the other, the obstacle cannot be easily overcome by the government as one side will be always left distraught. Nevertheless, there are certain actions that can be carried out. If to consider the issue of gun control, the measures should be taken to avoid the ease of obtaining the weapons. What is more, the new restrictions connected with gun control can save a lot of lives.
“Guns don’t kill people. People kill people” (“The Famous Anti-gun Control Slogan”)
In December 2012, a man took lives of 20 innocent children in a mass shooting with two semiautomatic guns at an elementary school in Connecticut, US. This tragic incident shook the whole world, awaking long lasting gun-control debate again (Ghobashy and Barrett). In April, 2013, the US President Barack Obama proposed a gun control bill, which was not adopted by Senate. A massive number of people believe that restriction of gun purchase or strict gun-control laws can actually solve problems like mass shooting, violence, and criminal acts. However, is denying the right of the people to keep and bear arms really the answer to such issues? Of course, this is not the case. On the contrary, it will worsen the problem even further (Mitchell). As mentioned by the National Rifle Association, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people” (“The Famous Anti-gun Control Slogan”).
The purpose of this essay is to analyze the actual stories and facts of gun control, as well as evaluate some gun control myths and propose possible preventive measures.
Basically, gun control is defined as the effort to limit or restrict the production, dealing, and ownership of specific firearms. Firearms are classified into three primary types, i.e., rifles, handguns, and shotguns. Further, it can be characterized as a semi-automatic and fully automatic firearm, according to their function. According to the reports based on production data from firearm manufacturers, in 2010, there were approximately 300 million firearm owners in the US. Of these, around 100 million people possessed handguns. According to nationwide Gallup poll, 42 percent households in the US owned firearms, in 2005. The United States is a violent country, where a crime rate is quite high. Based on crime data from 1985, a U.S Justice Department has concluded that almost 42 percent of Americans become victims of violent crimes like assault, rape, robbery in the course of their lives. Remarkably, 52 percent of Americans become victims of completed or attempted violent crimes more than once. The survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claimed that Americans use guns to scare away criminals or intruders, who are breaking into their home, with about 498000 cases reported per year. A 1982 survey conducted in 11 state prisons found that 34 percent of criminals had been wounded or captured by an armed victim. 40 percent had avoided committing a crime as they knew that the victim was bearing a gun (Agresti and Reid). These facts and figures explain the importance of arms in the American society. Over the time, gun ownership has become an essential part of the American culture, thus making gun control one of the most contested social issues in America.
Used gun? My husband did, We were approached by two men in an alley. They informed my husband that they wanted his money and his “woman” Thank God that he had a gun, the mere display of his firearm convinced them to seek an easier “unarmed” target (“Guns Save Lives”)
An expressive statement of one of the victims of violent crimes says it all, who luckily escaped only due to having a gun at the time. Dr. Gary Kleck, a famous criminologist for Florida State University, who is known for his book “Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America”, revealed that the American citizens mostly use their firearms to defend themselves against criminal attacks, and usage of firearms for defensive acts has outnumbered the criminal use of firearms in America. Gun control and restriction on citizens to bear a gun can simply take away their chances to fight back against the criminal acts. Especially, it raises a question on security of women in the society, considering the fact that the violent crimes against women are out of control (Schulman).
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“Ten Myths about Gun Control”
Gun control advocates often seem to make extreme statements, which are enough to generate fear and mistrust among the common people. However, none of their statements stand under the light of real facts and results. Most of the gun control proponents believe that the majority of Americans favors the new strict federal laws of gun control. In reality, most people are unaware of current laws and regulations; thus, it is meaningless to declare that people support “strict” laws when they are unaware of how “strict” the laws are, in the first place. In contrast, many research polls have regularly shown that the majority of people are against the costly firearm-registrations and authority of the police department to decide, who should own guns. Also, they do not believe that the stricter gun control laws would actually restrict criminals from accessing guns (“Ten Myths about Gun Control”).
Most of the Americans own a handgun for the purpose of protection and security.
There are approximately 70 million handgun owners in the United States, which use their arms for target shooting, hunting, protection of business and families, and other lawful and legitimate purposes. Despite this fact, the opponents guns use by civilians argue that handguns are the major reason behind massive homicides. But, compare to the total handguns in America, the number of handguns used in homicides (i.e., 13,200) is almost 0.002 percent less than the total number of handguns. Among the total reported homicides, around 2800 cases were considered of self-defense and justifiable. By far, more than 99 percent of total handguns are used for non-criminal purposes (“Ten Myths about Gun Control”).
Gun control advocates promote vehicle licensing and registration as guidelines for firearm rights. However, it is illogical to follow the regulations of automobile legislation when it comes to firearms. Also, such registration and licensing do not prevent the illegal misuse of weapons. In contrast to the deaths of 40,000 people in motor vehicle accidents each year, only some 1400 victims are involved in the lethal firearm accidents, each year. Registration along with licensing of some 65 million firearms owners along with their 200 million guns would assume the development of a large bureaucracy at extraordinary costs to be borne by taxpayers, with no guarantee of minimizing the crime rate. In 1980s, the New Zealand government withdrew the registration policy after police confirmed its worthlessness. Registration and licensing have no impact on crime rates. Also, confiscation and gun-control restriction would only affect law-abiding citizens, as criminals do not obey the laws. This fact was proved when a survey (conducted by Rossi and Wright for the Department of Justice) found that 82 percent of convicts agreed that laws of guns control affect common citizens only: criminals would always be able to get arms via many alternative sources. In a way, such suppression will only lead to disrespect and ignorance towards laws, thus encouraging criminal instincts in law-abiding citizens. According to the survey, in cities and states, where registration of semi-automatic firearms is required, compliance rate ranges from 5 to 10 percent (“Ten Myths about Gun Control”).
Most of the gun-control supporters claim that strict gun-control laws is the major reason behind low crime rates in countries like, England and Japan, in comparison to the United States. All criminologist and researchers reject the idea of comparing violent crime rates among foreign countries. It is baseless and absurd to draw any conclusion without considering the differences in each country’s crime data collection system, their cultural, political, social, and economic inequalities. Such factors make it hard to compare the countries’ violent crime rates on the basis of gun control legislation only.
David Kopel (an author of “The Samurai, The Mountie and The Cowboy: Should America adopt the gun controls of other democracies?”) tried to judge the impact of gun control on the rate of violent crimes in a few countries. He stated: Contrary to the claims of the American gun control movement, gun control does not deserve credit for the low crime rates in Britain, Japan, or other nations. Foreign style gun control is doomed to failure in America. Foreign gun control comes along with searches and seizures, and with many other restrictions on civil liberties too intrusive for America. Foreign gun control postulates an authoritarian philosophy of government fundamentally at odds with the individualist and egalitarian American ethos. (“Ten Myths about Gun Control”)
Also, he mentioned that Switzerland and Israel, the countries with more extensive rates of gun ownership, have lower crime rates than other conventional countries. America’s high crime rates are the aftermath of fragile judicial system. In U.S., there were 8.1 million serious offenses like, assault, homicide, and filching, in 1990s. Only 724,000 offenders were arrested and less than 150,000 were sentenced to prison, with 36,000 serving merely a year. According to the reports of National Institute of Justice, the average convict freed due to overcrowding of prisons commits around 187 crimes annually, costing the society almost $430,000. Countries like Japan and England are two to six times more efficient and effective in solving crimes and sentencing punishments than the United States. The conviction rate in these countries is around 20 percent, compared to 5 percent in the United States. Despite stiff gun control laws, England has five times higher rate of the handgun-related robberies as compared to the United States. The overall respect for law and order is deeply adopted in the Japanese culture. The lower crime rate in Japan is explained by the effectiveness of its criminal justice system. If gun availability is considered the main factor in crime rates, one would expect crime rates in European countries to be related to weapons availability in those countries. However, crime rates are almost similar in countries with high gun ownership (like Switzerland and Israel) and countries with low gun ownership (like England and Germany). Furthermore, one would expect that crimes, where guns are rarely used (such as rape), will have lower rates as compared to crimes where guns are mostly used, such as mass shooting. Surprisingly, in America, non-gun crime rates are higher in the number versus violent gun crimes (“Ten Myths about Gun Control”).
In 1994, Congress banned semi-automatic guns by passing crime bill in the Senate. Most of the gun prohibitionists declared that semi-automatic guns have no legitimate sporting purpose, and are used by criminals as most preferred weapons; therefore, they should be banned. Criminals usually opt to handguns 38 Spl. and .357 Mag. Revolvers, ranging over $200). Though criminals are unconcerned with the cost of a firearm, the common law-abiding citizens are concerned, indeed. A ban of inexpensive firearms will have a significant impact on low income Americans, directly disarming them. This will lead to more security threats to their lives, considering that most of the low-income families live in high crime areas. Only 3 percent of crime guns are military style semi-autos. Semi-automatic guns are highly used in various legal shooting tournaments and matches at Ohio, Camp Perry. Thousands of people use such rifle for recreational plinking and target shooting. The Second Amendment clearly addresses the right to own firearms useful for the security, and semi-automatic arms are perfect for that purpose. The founders also mentioned that the citizens should be able to protect themselves from criminals, and all modern firearms may be used for such protective purpose (“Ten Myths about Gun Control”). The Second Amendment reads: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to these security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. In contrast to other portions of the Constitution, this Amendment contains no qualifiers, no “buts” or “excepts” (“Ten Myths about Gun Control”).
However, gun control activists claim that the rights guaranteed by the provisions of the Second Amendment are limited only to the armaments of a ‘well-organized Militia’, i.e. today’s National Guard. However, the concept of ‘militia’ is often misunderstood. Throughout the history, the ‘militia’ term stands for the people, armed and eager to defend the homeland and freedom with the arms. Thus, it is a straightforward statement confirming the people’s right to possess firearms (“Ten Myths about Gun Control”).
Often anti-gun groups defend their policy by claiming, gun control reduces the crime rate.
In reality, not even a single study has proved the positive effect of gun control on crime rates. Ironically, it has shown that gun control is indirectly encouraging crimes in the society. The areas with high restrictions on private ownership of firearm have remarkably high rate of crimes because criminals are usually aware that their victims are less likely to have any means, with which they can defend themselves. Though gun-laws are effectively working in Washington, D.C., the city has remarkably higher crime rates than any other states of America. There is no surprise that the former D.C. Police Chief, Maurice Turner, gave a statement against gun control while commenting on the ineffectiveness of gun control laws in restraining criminal activities. Washington D.C.’s homicide rate around 81 cases per 100,000 populations was the highest rate ever recorded for an American large city, which noted a 200 percent increase in homicide after banning handguns, whereas the nation’s rate in homicide rose just by 11 percent. According to the court decisions, police are not legally responsible for protection of any individual person.
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In many cases, the courts have stated that the police are responsible for protection of a complete society, rather than separate individuals. Under this concept and restrictive gun regulations, people are left unprotected and unable to protect their families by themselves from violent criminals. Such laws encourage more criminal and illegal acts as demand for arms increases. According to the survey, there are 70,000 legally-owned handguns in New York City, yet there are at least 750,000 handguns, obviously, in the hands of the law-abiding common citizens. Such staggering figures reflect the serious concern of criminal backgrounds and possible threat to the society (“Ten Myths about Gun Control”).
It is important to understand that the real causes behind massive shootings or homicides. Gun control is not the answer to the problem. In most of the cases, shooters killed themselves after massive destruction; mainly because they also believe, their act is totally immoral and unacceptable. There might be many reasons behind their anger or frustration, such as family problems, unstable economic conditions, and poor personal and social relationships. The government needs to understand the root cause of such acts, rather than implying rational gun-control laws. Education is a main key to solve this serious issue. It has seen that most of the young people do not respect the essence of life, which they need to be taught not only at schools, but also at home. Respect and essentiality of life need to be explained to them through the examples. Also, the government and judicial system have to be more aggressive not only in implying laws and regulations, but also in executing them effectively (Cain).
In conclusion, gun control is not the answer for violent crimes, but education is. Armed citizens are never a threat to the society if they are responsible and careful while using their arms. Gun control cannot be effective for achieving peace; it is rather, a well-educated, cultured society and supportive government that will build the peaceful and protective environment.