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Gun Control Essay Research Paper A problem

Gun Control Essay, Research Paper A problem that has developed recently in our society is the debate over gun control. Many questions arise concerning who should be able to own guns, and how those particular guns are obtained. One major debate is over our Constitutional right to own guns. I want to know when the government should draw the line.

Gun Control Essay, Research Paper

A problem that has developed recently in our society is the debate over gun control. Many questions arise concerning who should be able to own guns, and how those particular guns are obtained. One major debate is over our Constitutional right to own guns. I want to know when the government should draw the line. Statistics are not the only way a point can be proven about the harmful effects that guns have on our society. Stories from parents who have lost children, or children left fatherless or motherless due to gun violence hit home harder than graphs on paper.

How exactly do guns effect society? What is it that makes Americans so fascinated with guns? Erik Larson believes that the homicide fantasy is the engine that drives American?s fascination with guns (Larson 163). People by the thousands flock to shooting ranges year round in order to shoot at, what else, human silhouettes. Many shooting competitions are held in which the targets are humans that pop up out of nowhere. Let?s not forget video games. Children are more or less brainwashed into liking violence by use of guns. At the age that children are generally introduced to video games, their young minds still have not yet grasped the difference between reality and fiction. Guns have been an American pastime for generations. Old TV programs always show the heroes and bad guys in glorious gun fights. Many people collect guns, or use them for hunting. “By far the largest category of gun owners is those who use guns for sport” (Leddy 229). Police and military men use them for protection. Others, use them to kill maliciously. Research shows that over half of the households in America contain some sort of firearm. One-fourth of that number own a handgun as opposed to a hunting rifle or shotgun (Wright 311).

What is the first thing that comes to an American?s mind when we hear the word robbery? Most likely, a gun. Guns have turned out to be the epitome of violence in our society. Whenever people are robbed, or murdered, chances are that these events occurred with the use of a gun. This brings up the topic of how people with such destructive means obtain these deadly weapons. Just about any US citizen can go buy a gun. “Easy aquisition of firearms leads to a higher rate of guns used in crimes (MacGillis 160). The Brady Bill is one step to limiting the easy access to buying guns. This bill requires a seven day waiting period for potential gun buyers to take their new weapon home. The real problem lies not in the stores that sell shotguns, rifles, handguns, and semi-automatic weapons, the problem lies in the black market. Guns, mostly stolen, are sold and reused on the streets. Police have much difficulty tracing the origin of most guns used in crime due to the fact that the guns have traveled from person to person over an extended period of time. Guns do however, put a psychological spin on crime in some homes. With the current knowledge at hand, criminals are aware that many American homes contain firearms. This knowledge creates a deterrent to most criminals who seek to break into a residence (313).

How does American society compare to those societies in which guns are illegal? Take England for example. Guns, mainly shotguns and rifles, are bought and sold in Great Britain primarily for hunting purposes. Other than that, handguns are hard to find in the United Kingdom. Very few police carry guns, though it is believed by most that no English police officers carry guns. The crime statistics of England in relation to the population is significantly lower than that of the United States?. Granted, crime still occurs, and a few brave criminals choose to use guns in their crimes in England. But the level of the fear of being shot or involved in some sort of gun related crime is higher in the United States than is in Great Britain.

The subject of guns in America and gun control laws is a very controversial one. We as a society must take into effect that guns for the most part are more harmful to America than helpful, but the right to own a firearm was one of the many liberties our nation was founded under. The second Amendment of the Constitution does state that Americans have the right to bear arms. But like so much of the rest of the Constitution, this amendment is always in question legally and politically. It states that “?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.” Firearm activists, like the NRA (National Rifle Association), argue that the amendment is simply stated, and that all Americans should be able to buy and possess guns. Gun control activists, argue that the Constitution says that people may own guns for the purpose of creating a militia. It is the state who decides the gun laws and not the federal government (Sugarmann 165). A court case in 1886, Presser vs. Illinois, ruled that the second Amendment was created as a check on the power of the federal government, and in no way did it limit a state?s ability to regulate firearms (242). The fact still remains that any US citizen, with the exception of convicted felons and those deemed unfit to carry a weapon, may purchase a firearm. The question now is to what limit may the government regulate the ownership of firearms by citizens?

Many things are being done to prevent crime and injury related to guns. The majority of the public support any action taken that requires licensing for handguns. The catch is that programs of this sort cost money, taxpayer money. If costs for licensing programs are relatively high, public opinion will drop, and the program becomes a bad idea. There is very little support for a total ban on private ownership of handguns, but more would favor a ban on military style weapons. As of now, gun laws depend entirely on the state in which a person lives. The federal government?s power can only go so far when restricting the sale and manufacture of handguns. The state of California enforces a fifteen day waiting period before an individual is able to purchase a handgun.

The federal government enforces the Brady Bill. In the early eighties, a man named John Hinckley attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. A stray bullet struck former Senator James Brady in the head, causing severe paralysis. Hinckley had bought the gun in a Texas pawnshop prior to the shooting. Outrage filled America at the ease that Hinckley purchased the gun. A bill was proposed that would require a complete background check on anybody who desired to buy a handgun. The bill, appropriately named after Brady, was created to stop the public from buying guns in the heat of passion. Often times, a traumatic event will occur and in the heat of the moment, a person will purchase a gun to either kill themselves or others that they are angry at. The Brady Bill, which requires a seven day waiting period and a check for prior criminal activity, allows a person to calm their temper before irrational behavior causes them to injure someone else (Davidson 260). The Brady Bill is a major step in reducing the number of murders in American, but it isn?t perfect. Most guns involved in crime are either bought on the street, are stolen, or are already in a residence. In the case of John Hinckley, the assassination attempt was well planned, and he had no prior criminal record. Even if the Brady Bill was in effect, Hinckley would not have been stopped. “A stricter law can have an effect on gun crime. In two years after an introduction of a waitng period in Massachusetts, gun homicide went down in Boston by 55.7% (MacGillis 160).

There are many factors that gun control laws cannot prevent. I spoke with Allen Baker, a student at UNCW whose best friend was killed by a shotgun in December of 1996. The gun that was used in the incident was owned none other by the young man who was killed. A family member walked into the house, picked up the gun and loaded it, and shot Allen?s friend in the chest. The young man bled to death before help could arrive. (Baker) Allen?s face appeared to get pale as he described to me the amount of blood he witnessed on the floor as he walked around the murder scene the next day. For gun control activists, this crime should bring about a ban on all weapons. For organizations such as the NRA, this crime simply represents that guns don?t kill people, but people kill people. A question raised is how to prevent gun crimes, like the one above, from happening in the future. This is where America stands right now on the issue of gun control. Can America handle an outright ban on guns? Is this an infringement of our rights? Many jobs would be lost, but many lives would be saved, and less crime would occur.

The government has the power to regulate gun control, but as of now, the laws are in the hands of the states. When does the government draw the line? It is a very political matter when dealing with a Constitutional right and the lives of innocent people. The right to bear arms is one of the principles our nation was founded under, but at the same time, Americans have the right for life.

Works Cited

Baker, Allen. Personal interview. 6 Nov. 1997.

Davidson, Osha. Under fire. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1993.

Larson, Erik. Lethal Passages. New York: Crown Publishers, 1994.

Leddy, Edward. Magnum Force Lobby. New York: University Press of

America, 1987.

MacGillis, Donald. Crime in America. Radnor, PA: Stonesong Press,

1983.

Sugarmann, Josh. National Rifle Association. Washington DC:

National Press Books, 1992.

Wright, James. Under the Gun. New York: Aldine Publishing Co.,

1983.

Baker, Allen. Personal interview. 6 Nov. 1997.

Davidson, Osha. Under fire. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1993.

Larson, Erik. Lethal Passages. New York: Crown Publishers, 1994.

Leddy, Edward. Magnum Force Lobby. New York: University Press of

America, 1987.

MacGillis, Donald. Crime in America. Radnor, PA: Stonesong Press,

1983.

Sugarmann, Josh. National Rifle Association. Washington DC:

National Press Books, 1992.

Wright, James. Under the Gun. New York: Aldine Publishing Co.,

1983.

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