Firearms: Is This Our Answer? Essay, Research Paper
FIREARMS: IS THIS OUR ANSWER?
The idea of gun control and regulation is becoming more and more popular throughout the U.S., although it may still bring up resistance among some people. Guns are sort of a foundation of American culture. This country?s freedom was won over bloody and ?heroic? wars with guns. Guns are portrayed throughout television, movies, and video games. Guns are a popular symbol of power, control, authority, dominance, and can be associated with security and defense. The role guns play in our society is a highly controversial debate. I will support the gun control and regulatory side of this topic as a short-term realistic goal.
There are both avid supporters of the 2nd amendment guaranteeing American citizens the right to bear arms, and there are people who strongly disagree with the widespread use and availability of guns to youth and criminals. Those in favor of open gun use are often motivated by the 2nd Amendment, and the right many claim to hunt, protect the home, or for defense against potential militias or government overthrow. The motive behind proponents of gun control on the other hand, is to restrict accessibility to guns to prevent violence and death in our society.
My position ultimately, with relevance to our presentations in class, is neither an attempt to persuade or convince anyone to use guns nor to control and restrict them. From here however, let me tell you that guns play a role of non-importance in my life, and therefore I have sought out a reasoning that has led me to favor a world with no guns altogether. This may sound rather idealistic or radical, but it is necessary. Our world is in need of a profound, collective reformation where violence and guns are concerned ? particularly in the United States. This is my long-term goal of potentiality.
Firstly, the extent of gun violence is tremendous, primarily in the U.S. among all other industrial nations. Next to automobile fatality, gun violence is the second leading cause of death by injury in the U.S. It should become first by the year 2003 unless something is done to prevent it. In the early nineties for example, four states ? Nevada, Virginia, Louisiana, and Texas had trends of gun injury as the top cause of death. This type of violence it seems is almost as epidemic as AIDS is in causing death. That is a very scary thing to consider. (gunfree.org)
The National Center for Health Statistics reports that firearms have taken the lives of 35,957 people in the U.S. in 1995. There is a 21.5% firearm fatality increase since 1985. And, of these fatalities, suicides rank first at 18,503 people; homicides second at 15,835 people; unintentional shootings next at 1,225 people; and 394 were undetermined. (gunfree.org)
Now I would like to demystify several arguments used against gun control. The first one assumes that gun control won?t stop gun violence or crime. Most criminals get guns through legal means contrary to what the gun lobby says to justify having a huge availability of guns. This is proven by the Criminal Justice Research Center. They apparently surveyed that only 27% of adult inmates and 43% of juveniles have bought handguns illegally on the black market. On the other hand, of these inmates, 69% of adults and 55% of juveniles obtained guns through means like retail, gun shops, private owners, friends or family. This confirms that most guns are gotten legally through controlled methods. (gunfree.org)
Also, the FBI has received reports of a median number of about 274,000 guns stolen yearly from ?85 to ?94. This points out that the guns sold by owners and dealers are a risk to us and can be regulated to lower crime, murder, suicide, and other fatalities. (gunfree.org)
Is owning a gun really a constitutional right? The 2nd amendment of the constitution says: ?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.? The Supreme Court made clear in its 1939 case decision of U.S. vs. Miller, that the 2nd Amendment doesn?t protect possession of a firearm unless there exists some type of reasonable relationship in preserving a militia. Currently, the National Guard is regarded as today?s form of militia. (gunfree.org)
Also equally impressive is that in all Supreme and Federal courts, since the Miller decision, no gun control laws have been shot down on the case of the 2nd Amendment. And particularly lower federal courts have never supported firearm possession as being a fundamental and individual citizen right. (gunfree.org)
Although it is true that the constitution is a fundamental part of our history and country, ?the framers of the Constitution more than 200 years ago couldn?t possibly have foreseen the multitude of high tech guns, their widespread availability and the violent culture we now live in that is sadly desensitized toward injury and death (Tampa Bay Business Journal 62).? We must all realize that ?rather than protecting us from potential tyranny ? as our forefathers imagined ? guns now threaten the very survival of the nation?s citizens and communities (Rosen 179).? I?m not against the constitution, but using the 2nd amendment which was created during a different societal time frame, to justify gun rights, is one of the reasons that ?among the world?s 36 wealthiest nations, the U.S. has the highest rate of gun deaths through suicide, murder and accidents (America 3).?
Do you think handguns or any firearm is a good way to defend yourself? If so, than think again. If you keep a handgun in your house for defending the home and family, than you are five times more likely to experience a suicide and three times more likely to experience a homicide than compared to those people without guns in their homes. A gun in the home is 43 times more likely to kill a household member or friend rather than an intruder or criminal ? like a robber. Using a firearm to resist a violent assault can actually increase your risk of injury and death. Does that surprise you now? (gunfree.org)
What it really comes down to is that guns give us a false sense of security. Gun manufacturers and lobbyists want us to purchase firearms and have us believe they will protect and defend us. ?We are being targeted by an industry that wants us to join the vigilante crowd. Buying a gun, however, is an individual solution, which only helps the gun industry turn [people?s] fears into profits.? Make not also that a gunshot wound costs about 13,000 in health care, 80% of which is paid by the public. The real solution is to organize and fight for domestic disarmament. All people should have the right to be liberated from fear. We are not free when consumers are manipulated by profit-motivated industries.
In the New England Journal of Medicine, an important study of 743 gunshot deaths done by Dr. Arthur Kellermann and Dr. Donald Reay, found that 398 of these deaths had taken place in a home where the handgun was kept. It was not a criminal stranger who shot them, but instead family or relatives, spouses, roommates, or themselves. Altercations within the home accounts for 84% of these homicides. Of all 743 gunshot deaths, there were only two that occurred in homes involving intruders killed while attempting to enter, and nine deaths justified through police and court analysis. (95)
What really justifies homicide with a firearm? Well, a person can use certainly deadly force to defend their own life or against bodily harm. But, to commit justified homicide, there has to be a strong belief that your life is in jeopardy. You cannot use force with a gun to do something like shoot someone stealing your car. Using a gun must be a last option when all others have failed. You are legally required and obligated to even leave your house by fleeing out a back door for instance, rather than shoot someone who is intruding.
Again, FBI reports have confirmed that out of 21,597 people murdered in 1995, 12,066 were done with handguns, and only 179 of those were justified. This is just another alarming and unfortunate statistic we must confront. (gunfree.org)
Should we blame guns or people for deaths and killing? Do guns kill people, or do people kill people? There really is no either/or scenario. Both people and their guns are to blame. Without people, guns wouldn?t be fired, but with guns the efficiency of killing is profoundly increased. ?The most prevalent form of handgun death in America isn?t murder but suicide.? Other means of suicide such as knives, razor blades, gas or pills are not going to be such an efficient and absolute killing tool. The truth is that ?handguns however, [in comparison] lend themselves well to spontaneity.? How can human prosperity and health be promoted with the existence of such a *censored*ed up weapon? Take this seriously. ?Everyday fifteen children in the U.S. are killed by guns?. Or what do you think about the fact that ?every year, more than 24,000 Americans are killed ? whether by homicide, suicide, or accident ? with handguns (Rosen 178-179).? There is no denying that guns are a paramount contributor of human destruction.
In attempting to control guns or eliminate their use and existence, we would find that ?most gun owners have more than one gun, and 70 percent have at least three (America 3).? There are also ?more than two million weapons churned out by gun manufacturers every year. Add that to the estimated two-hundred million firearms already in private hands? and it could be a difficult task to achieve either short-term or long-term goals I have stated. That is why we must help create some awareness and provide as much truth and information as we can make available on the issue of firearms and violence.
If I could have my way with this health epidemic ? this virus with weapons and violence, I would create steps toward banning the manufacture, distribution, importation, sale and possession of guns (primarily handguns and automatic rifles/machine guns) to all citizens. Why are we taking this topic for granted? This stuff is for real! People are really murdered in gang disputes and drive-by shootings in places like North Portland where I was born. I?ve read ?gun violence is so pandemic that the Centers for Disease Control have identified it as the nations number one public health problem.?
The degree to which our communities and collective population tolerates firearms, has a long lasting effect upon our future and culture. Get this ? ?every twenty-four hours handgun-wielding assailants rape thirty-three women, rob 575 people and assault 1,116 people.? These kinds of stats blow me away. You can expect your children?s children on and on for generations on to live in a society and world where these kind of statistics are only growing steadily. How many voices must cry out? How much bloodshed must there be?
Come on! Those of you who think you need to rifles to hunt, could possibly consider the idea that unless you live as a complete hermit ? there are plenty of grocery and market stores to buy meat at. And there are also high-powered bow and arrow equipment, which is as effective in targeting and hunting animals. They?re much less destructive too.
And for those of you who think you must have a gun to protect yourself from government overthrow or an outbreak of war, maybe you could try living more in the present than worrying about future events that may not be preventable or controllable. At our current state, the government and our nation are quite stable and powerful. We are considered by far the most powerful nation in the world, with the most extensive nuclear arms capabilities.
I think the best conclusion is in suggesting that we look to other countries around us with lower homicide and violence rates. These countries can provide a resourceful model for us. And we need to ask ourselves, what is different about these places and people? How do they compare to our culture and how can we decrease our violence and increase our peace? The places we should look at with low gun-murder rates are Australia ? 13; Great Britain ? 33; Sweden ? 36; Japan ? 60; Switzerland ? 97; Canada 129, compared to the U.S.?s over 13,200 murders (these figures are from 1992).
As a simple personal opinion toward a solution, ?Why not try martial arts if you want to learn to protect and defend yourself constructively?? Maybe China and Japan have lower rates of homicide and violence because they institute marital arts practice into daily disciplinary regime in both school and work throughout all ages of life. They even have a much higher population density per square mile than the U.S. does.
There?s my two cents for support of a short-term goal of gun control and regulation, and a long-term goal of firearm elimination. Firearms are not our answer.
?New Gun Control Initiatives?. America. Editorial: 2/20/99, Vol. 180 Issue 5, p3.
Rosen, Ruth. ?Domestic Disarmament: A Women?s Issue??.
The Informed Argument. Ed. Robert Miller. New York: Hartcourt Brace, 1998. 178-181.
Sugurmann, Josh. ?The NRA Is Right?. The Informed Argument. Ed. Robert Miller. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1998. 185-190
Tampa Bay Business Journal. ?Crack Down On Guns?. Tampa Bay Business Journal. Editorial: 11/6/98, Vol.18 Issue 45, p62.
www.gunfree.org (within gun facts in csgv index)