Fighting For Gun Control Essay, Research Paper
Fighting for Gun Control
We, as part of a free country, naturally abhor violence. It is a factor that has risen and fallen over the years. In today s society, guns have become common weapons used in violent situations. They are an escalating problem that are only leading to more deaths over the years. However, Americans generally believe that gun control cannot do much to reduce these high levels of deaths. Many serious scholars have already accepted the argument that the huge number of guns already in circulation would make any gun control laws ineffective. But in the past few years, new research has demonstrated that some gun control laws do work, drastically reducing murder rates. I believe that even a small change for the better is reason enough to implement new gun control laws into our society, not only on a statewide level, but nationwide.
Gun violence is a plague of such major proportions that its destructive power is rivaled only by wars and epidemics. During the Vietnam War, more than twice as many Americans were shot to death in the United States as died in combat in Vietnam. Besides the 34,000 Americans killed by guns each year, more than 60,000 are injured-many seriously-and about a quarter of a million Americans are held up at gunpoint. Nearly 70 percent of all serious crimes are committed by boys and young men, ages fourteen to twenty-four. Ever since the 1960s, these criminals have increasingly begun to pack handguns. These statistics clearly state how dangerous a threat guns have become. If gun control laws have been proven to help make even the slightest difference, then it is worth putting these laws into action in every state. If only one life is saved, then it is worth the effort.
In 1980 to 1986, a study took place in Seattle and Vancouver, comparing the number of aggravated assaults by weapon. Remarkably, these two cities were very much alike in many ways. They had populations nearly identical in size and the racial and ethnic makeup in both cities were very similar. As expected, burglary rates in both cities were also nearly identical. However, the rate of assaults with firearms was nearly 5 times higher in Seattle than the rate in Vancouver (McKenna 169). What could be the cause of such a dramatic contrast between two states that were very similar at the time? The one major difference between the two cities was their use of gun laws. People in Seattle may purchase a handgun for any reason after a five-day waiting period. Forty-one percent of all households have handguns. Vancouver, on the other hand, requires a permit for handgun purchases and issues them only to applicants who have a lawful reason to own a handgun and do not have a criminal record. Also, self-defense is not a valid reason to own a handgun. The penalty for illegal possession is severe-two years imprisonment. Handguns are present in only twelve percent of households (McKenna 170). This is only one example that expresses the need for gun laws to become more strict.
The question has been asked: Do handguns deter crime? If handguns lessen burglaries, then the burglary rate in Seattle should have been lower than the burglary rate of Vancouver. But it was not. In addition, less than four percent of the homicides in both cities resulted from acts of self-defense. It is apparent that laws requiring a substantial amount of patience to acquire handguns help to keep them from falling into the wrong hands. Although laws such as this do not keep criminals from acquiring firearms through illegal means, it does help to limit the legal possession of guns given to honest working citizens. Reducing the number of guns in the general public, not just of criminals, still helps to lessen deaths. Many people are law-abiding citizens until they are caught up in a domestic dispute. Murder is most commonly an act of rage, and if there is a gun available, things can turn deadly in an instant.
Although it is not a complete answer to our problems, all of this strong evidence proves that the right kind of gun control legislation can reduce murders, suicides, and accidents substantially in the United States. However, those against gun control laws argue that they only serve to keep guns out of the hands of honest citizens, while criminals obtain them through other means. This is an understandable problem, but the facts speak for themselves. Strict gun laws do help to some extent. There have also been suggestions such as reforming the educational system, giving youths a more constructive outlook of the future. While this is easier said than done, I believe that this solution, when combined with strict gun laws, can be very affective.
In conclusion, the standing argument is whether or not to have stricter gun laws. Although both sides may argue, we are all aiming for a common goal. Although there is no perfect solution to stopping unnecessary deaths by handguns, it is evident that reducing the violence is possible. Americans know how bad gun violence is. Yet not everyone knows the truth that gun laws do work. As mentioned earlier, if it is at least possible to save one life through the implementation of stricter gun laws, then it is well worth it.
McKenna, George. Taking Sides: Political Issues. Connecticut: Dushkin/McGraw-Hill, 1999.