Control Will It Help? Essay, Research Paper
Control! Will it Help?
Sometimes it seems that almost all news reports about firearms, gun control or crime should start out with that phrase. Those four short words tell us that while the story to follow will be presented as fact, it is really fiction, or better said, a myth or a fable. Unfortunately, these fables have come to displace facts in the public dialogue about firearms and crime in America.
Some of these fables as many fables do, start out with a grain of truth, but are later misrepresented and twisted to serve a particular purpose. Still other misinterpreted facts about guns are just incorrect assumptions that over time are given the imprimatur of fact. Whatever their source, it is important that they be exposed as the fables they are so that they might no longer influence the national debate. A few of these fabrications are; a gun in the home makes the home less safe, gun control laws prevent crime, and hunting and the gun culture teach our kids to be violent.
Some people claim that a firearm in the home is unsafe and that firearm related accidents are more likely to occur with a gun in the house than if the household did not have a firearm readily available. Anti-firearm activists insist that the very act of keeping a firearm in the home puts family members at risk, and therefore claim that a gun in the home is 43 times more likely to be used to kill a family member than an intruder. Gun control advocates would have the public believe that armed citizens would often accidentally shoot or kill a family member, mistaking them for a criminal. It was proposed that a household with a firearm is much more likely to experience a homicide than if it did not have a gun in the household for protection.
Many firearm advocates use the argument that gun control laws prevent crime to help back their views of the debate. There are over 40,000 federal, state, and local gun laws. The Gun Control Act of 1968 alone prohibits persons convicted of, or under indictment for, crimes punishable by more than a year in prison, fugitives, illegal drug users, illegal aliens, mental incompetents and certain other classes of people from purchasing or possessing firearms. The law prohibits mail order sales of firearms, prohibits sales of firearms between residents of other states who are not dealers, prohibits retail sales of handguns to persons under the age of 21, and rifles and shotguns to persons under the age of 18, and it prohibits the importation of firearms not generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes. It also established the current firearm dealers licensing system.
Advocates also preach that hunting and violent television shows are directly related to the problem of children s violent behavior. After several isolated firearm crimes committed by children on school grounds during the late 1990 s, activists suggested that such crimes were common and attributable not only to guns, but hunting and the so-called Southern gunculture . Anti-gun activists say that children are killed by an accidental gun mishap every day.
As for the fable that guns make the home unsafe, it is fact that firearms are used far more to stop crimes that to commit them. The 43:1 claim is derived from a study of firearm-related deaths in homes in King County (Seattle), Washington. Although the authors originally warned that the study was of a single nonrepresentative county, and noted that they failed to consider protective uses of firearms that did not result in criminals being killed, anti-firearm groups and activists used the 43 times claim without explaining the limitations of the study, or how the ratio was derived. To produce the misleading ratio from the study, the only defensive or protective uses of firearms that were counted were those in which criminals were killed by would-be crime victims. This is the most serious of the study s flaws, since fatal shootings of criminals occur in only a fraction of 1% of protective firearm uses nationwide. Studies have shown that firearms are used for protection against criminals as many as 2.5 million times annually.
The fable that gun control laws prevent crime is disputed by the fact that the federal Gun Control acts of 1968 imposed unprecedented restrictions relating to firearms nationwide. Yet, compared to the five years before the law, the national homicide rate averaged 50% higher during the five years after the law, 75% higher during the next five years, and 81% higher during the five years after that. The overall homicide rate in the jurisdictions that have the most severe restrictions on firearm purchase and ownership (California, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Washington D.C.) is 23% higher than the rest of the country. The record is clear: gun control primarily impacts upon upstanding citizens, not criminals. Holding criminals accountable for their actions reduces crime. Between 1980-1994, the 10 states with the greatest increases in prison population and incarceration rates experienced an average decrease of 13% in violent crime, while the 10 states with the smallest increases in prison population experienced an average 55% increase in violent crimes.
The third myth about firearm control is hunting and the gun culture teach our kids to be violent. Gun activists tried to use this false claim for a shooting in Arkansas, until it was reported that the primary suspect in the crime had been raised in a northern state. Several recent studies conducted for the federal government tell a different story than one hears from those who spin the news to promote gun control. Among the findings, boys who learn about firearms and their legitimate uses from family members and who own firearms legally have much lower rates of delinquency than those who own firearms illegally and those who do not own firearms. Many factors have been identified as contributing to the likelihood of homicides, including poverty and unemployment, as well as population size, density, age, and the percentage of people living in urban areas. Merely being in the south, however, is a statistically insignificant factor. While persons who live in rural areas are more likely to be hunters, the total violent crime rate and murder rate in rural counties are 69% and 42% lower, respectively, than those found in metropolitan areas. Those whose abhorrence of guns from fear of the unknown might have a change of heart if they knew that hunting not only teaches youngsters how to be safe with firearms, it provides them valuable character-building lessons that will serve them throughout their lives. Hunting has a long-standing code of ethics built upon respect for the rights of others. Hunters more than any other group are responsible for protecting wildlife and their natural habitat through a variety of conservation programs they fund. Additionally, the NRA (National Rifle Association) has been the nation s leader in firearm safety training and hunter education for decades. Their 39,000 Certified Instructors and Coaches train hundreds of thousands of people each year in a variety of programs.
In closing, gun control is a debate that will continue to rise in controversy every time a story breaks the news in which a gun is used to commit a violent crime. Guns do not kill people; people kill people. There should be tougher sentencing for those who do not respect the gun laws and rewards for those who do follow the laws. In the times leading up to and during World War II, Hitler passed strict laws on gun control and the direct result of this was government enforcement of total gun control on the people, and 6 million Jewish people died partially due to this stance on gun control, being unable to defend themselves against Hitler s aggression.
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