Battle For Gun Control Essay, Research Paper
The Battle for Gun Control
March 8, 1999
The Battle for Gun Control
The United States of America has the highest rate of gun-related deaths of any nations in the world, and yet has some of the most liberal policies of gun control. Very few laws exist that limit the sale, or trade of guns. Controversy surrounds this issue, with both sides touting statistics and surveys to support their case. However, the issue of gun-control regulations has not been resolved. Gun-control laws have regulated gun buying power, and yet has not provided clear proof of any kind of crime reduction.
Americans have the right to bear arms as the Second Amendment states. This is a right, an undeniable privilege. When the constitution was created it was a symbolic gesture. The amendments created were to be the foundations of a great society they were the desires, and wants of this new country. The Second Amendment was one of these desires. It states that all Americans have the right to bear arms, a right to own guns. It says nothing about how this right should be hindered by control laws. A group that declares itself a defender of this amendment is the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA drapes itself with the Second Amendment, using it as a cover-all for their beliefs. The NRA is America’s biggest opponent of gun control. Their motto: Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. They oppose gun control on the basis that it restricts a Constitutional right that every American need protected.
Guns are legal, easy to buy and basically quite cheap. They can be bought anywhere. From the neighborhood Wal-Mart to the secondary black-market. Americans love their guns. We have obsession with guns. 71% of Americans own a gun. (National Safety Council, 1995) Guns are a symbol of strength, masculinity an undeniable power. But, does our love and popularity of guns have an affect on gun related crime and deaths? Pro-gun advocates would have us believe not. The National Center for Policy Analysis claims this is the number one myth that gun-control supporters spew. They point to Switzerland as examples of countries with high gun ownership and low crime rates. Switzerland ahs the highest amount of gun ownership in the world, and yet has one of the lowest murder rates in the world. Switzerland relays on this high rate of gun ownership, since there is no active military all males 20-50 years old are required by law to carry a military -issued automatic weapon. However, this fact does little to support the pro gun debate, since many other countries such as Britain and Japan also have low gun related deaths, but also have low gun ownership rates.
Whenever a fatal gun accident takes place, particularly when a child is involved if often makes state or national news, such as the cause with the Jonesboro shootings of spring of 1998. The attack and murder of children outrage America, causing a fury of gun-control advocates demanding stricter laws and penalties to protect children from gun violence. The NRA recently lobbied for a defeat in legislation (brought before the senate as an answer to school ground shootings) that would’ve made trigger locks mandatory. Although the Senate eventually turned down the bill, may believe it would be the definitive gun law to protect children. Unfortunately, others saw differently. Mrs. Tanya Mates, executive director NRA Institute for Legislative Action was quoted as saying “It was a great a day for gun safety in America, thanks to the U.S Senate.”(Policy.com: Issue Library Gun Violence and Children) This law could have protected children but at what price? When children are violent, will gun laws prevent them killing? Americans will have peace of mind, but the power of the Second Amendment will be diluted. Unfortunately, Americans cannot find a common ground. How can Americans protect both the rights of gun owners, and potential victims of gun violence?
Unfortunately, it takes death or a great injury for laws to be established, and then be brought up for legislation. The Brady Bill, passed February 28, 1994 established a law that required that individual might buy all licensed firearms purchases subject on instant criminal background check before the gun. This bill established by Jim Brady as a preventive measure that would restrict criminals from purchasing a gun. Jim Brady was shot while protecting the president Ronald Regan in 1980 by a man with a past criminal record. Advocates of gun control claim this law has decreased gun-related crime in America. While crime has decreased by 7% in ten years, it has not been proven that this law is the cause. And yet, violence in teens and children has accelerated. Why the recent violence? Many point to our grim environment. Television, movies and videogames as main culprits for breeding these violent thoughts in Americas children. However, the facts remain: a child can play guns, and still not harbor deadly intentions. The cause is far greater than that. The cause is accessibility. Guns are tempting, and easy for children to get a hold of. 88% of children are injured or killed in shooting are shot in their homes of relatives and friends (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms: National Safety Council)
Gun control laws were created as a means not only to protect Americans, but also as means of crime reduction. The theory being that with fewer guns on the street, the less guns used for criminal purposes. Registering guns is not a preventive measure. It has not proven to prevent gun crime. There are just too many guns to control. Guns are easily assessable. Guns are a large part of the American culture. Americans have an international image, that we are violent, gun-toting cowboys. An image that is not necessarily untrue. Guns are everywhere. Children bring them to school so often that most inner city public schools house metal detectors at their doors. How do Americans counterbalance our right to own guns, and our desire to protect others from their violence? Guns are a necessary in all countries, with Americans the second only to the most amount of amassed guns. Guns we claim are a protectant, and those gun control laws help Americans. And yet, no clear facts have proven that gun laws have decreased crime. They neither help, nor encourage gun ownership.
Are gun-control laws the answer? Maybe, this is not an answer easily given. Countless surveys and statistics support both sides to this debate whether or not they are potent in preventing crime. Registering guns and gun control is not a new idea. Many countries have adopted similar laws. A famous quote that neither supports nor debunks gun control is one by Adolph Hitler. “This year (1935) will go on in history! For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration! Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient and the world will follow our lead into the future!” And the world has. In fact, Australia has some of the strictest gun-control laws established because of Americas rather liberal gun-control laws. In a country such as Australia, on that prides itself as outback, wild and renegade, they recently tightened already strict gun policies. Australian Prime Minister Jon Howard said that his “most effective” line is amassing support for an assault weapons has been America. “I don’t want Australia to go down the American path. There is a widespread view, which I believe is quite accurate, that the high homicide rates in the U.S. is in past due to the lax gun laws.”(Los Angeles Times: July 30th, 1998)
Americans gun laws are so lax due to entirely to the Second Amendment. This is a powerful Constitutional right. One that is defended by equally powerful opposition. Most countries have adopted similar laws as Australia. America is paralleled to every other country as a forewarning to those countries. And yet, America has nearly the same crime rates as Britain, Australia, and France. (Time: May 14, 1998) Why are gun control laws so popular in most countries? For many reasons, citizens without guns are people without power. They are people without the control to gather a militia, or oppose any government. With police and criminals being the only to ones to own guns, average citizens need not worry. However, Americans still have the right to own a gun. Unlike other first world countries, we are virtually unrestricted in our gun buying powers. While we no longer need guns to protect us on an everyday basis, they’re still a convenience. One that many take advantage of. Gun control laws may not have proved to decrease crime, but they have regulated American gun power.
Gun control laws are controversial for many reasons they restrict a constitutional right, causing the NRA and others to protest and lobby against their approval. Nevertheless, gun control laws continue. New bills are created every day. In fact, since May of 1998, President Clinton has made gun safety a major objective and has proposed the Nationwide Child Access Prevention Laws. Laws that would make adults responsible for any actions taken by children with guns. If parents have neglected to secure their firearms, and allow easy access to a gun they would be criminally charged with their child’s’ crime. Gun control is very popular among politicians. Many believe it is the end-all to crime, and murder. However, Americans can not avoid more gun regulations. As America develops our need for guns will reduce, and more restrictions will take place. Which is why gun control laws are so controversial. Americans feel protected by the vast wing of Amendment 2 of the Constitution. But, gun control laws hone in on the power that that amendment has. Gun control laws are just that. Control laws. They control what kinds of guns we buy, how we buy them, and who gets to own them. Nevertheless, more laws will flourish. It is inevitable. Americans demand gun control laws, at the same time they admonish them.
Guns and Public Health: Epidemic of Violence or Pandemic of Propaganda? James D Wright and Peter Rossi: 1994
Policy.com: Gun Control in America: updated July 30, 1998
Time Sylvestor Monroe: ” Guns in America”, May 1998
Armed and Considered Dangerous: A Survey of Felons and Firearms : Daniel Kates, 1986