*****Gun Control **** Essay, Research Paper
Ever since America has been a country, Americans have owned and used guns. Recent events, such as Columbine and other mass shootings, have caused Americans to look at guns in a whole new perspective. Many argue guns protect us as United States citizens, while others will argue that guns are killing United States citizens. Who is right? Is there a right or a wrong? What should be done if anything? There are many different factors that contribute to finding the answers to these questions; however, there may be no real answer.
One of the aspects of gun control is the ever disputed second amendment. This amendment states: “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.” Many people disagree on whether it is solely the militia’s right to bear the arms or all people’s right. “Over forty lower court decisions have addressed the amendment. All have ruled that the second amendment only guarantees a state’s right to maintain a militia – not an individual’s right to own a handgun” (Brady 84). Does this mean that this is or should be in affect now? The answer is no, mainly because the NRA is a strong lobbyist for many politicians. Therefore, very little is done because every time a bill goes before congress about gun control it is rarely ever decided on. Yet some actions have been taken towards gun control. “Government officials have decided on four major ideas that have recently been put into action. These ideas are more severe penalties for convicted criminals, licensing of gun dealers, registering guns, and permissive to restrictive licenses for gun owners”(Newton 77). However some courts are taken greater actions, “In 1981, Morton Grove, Illinois, passed an ordinance banning handguns. Exclusions included police officers, prison authorities, members of the armed forces, licensed gun collectors, and licensed hunters”(Brady 85). Trying to set a standard, the courts soon rejected all appeals for the ordinance. Both the NRA and the United States congress claim they are working for the well being of Americans. Also both groups realize that each right has responsibilities that must be followed. The problem is determining what that right really is.
You may be asking why all the arguing over guns, or what is the problem with guns? Well there have been numerous problems occurring recently. Suicides, murders, rapes, robberies, accidental shootings, and other crimes are quite often results of gun use. For example,
“Approximately 60 percent of all murder victims in the United States in 1989 (about 12,000 people) were killed with firearms. According to estimates, firearm attacks injured another 70,000 victims, some of whom were left permanently disabled. Also in robberies and assaults, victims are far more likely to die when the perpetrator is armed with a gun than when he or she has another weapon or is unarmed.” (Roth)
Another problem with guns is suicides. “Residents of homes where a gun is present are 5 times more likely to experience a suicide than residents of homes without guns” (Kellermann et al. 467-472.). As you can begin to see many criminal or deadly circumstances are enhanced by the presence of guns, but what about other weapons? More recent studies on weapons and violent crimes have generally concluded that death was at least twice as likely in gun assaults as in knife assaults.
The United States cannot be the only country dealing with the problem of gun control. So how are other countries dealing with guns? Many have banned guns and others have high restrictions on guns. In comparison, Kates states, “ The United States has more homicides per capita than other countries that virtually prohibit gun ownership”(187). Could this be the answer for America? It would be hard to know. Banning guns does not mean people will not have illegal access to them still. Another point is that “Europe’s low violence rates long preceded the gun bans. In fact, stringent gun laws first appeared in the United States, despite this America’s crime rates continued to grow”(Kates 189). However, “In 1997, homicides in the United States dropped to the lowest level in twenty years and violent crimes dropped thirteen percent in 1998” (Shuster 48). An interesting fact to consider is: “The total number of firearms in circulation across the country has expanded at an astonishing rate, from about seventy five million in the late 1960’s to some two hundred thirty million today” (Rosen). In spite of this, “A United States citizen is thirty four more times likely to die in a car accident than to be killed from a firearm. There is approximately 48,000 annual motor accidents and 1,400 firearm related accidents” (Drane 56). Obviously though, people do not use guns everyday like they use cars. Overall, despite what some research may say, there is not a direct relationship between gun ownership and murders.
Guns can be both a positive and a negative affect in society today. As a positive affect, many consider a gun to be a necessity in their home, needed as self-defense. More than likely if guns were to be banned, it would be easily taken from these people. As a negative affect, criminals would find some way to keep them from being taken, and the country would then only contain more victims of murder. There is no real way to know if people that own a gun, will use it as a weapon or as a tool. Officials need to take greater actions on making laws. However, it would be nearly impossible for authorities to make sure the right people have guns. Therefore, because they are not capable of doing this, they should make people realize that with every right they have responsibilities that go with those rights. The realization that guns do not kill people, people kill people, and people beginning to live up to responsibilities of owning and using a gun, will then cause gun control to no longer be an issue.
Cozic, Charles and Wekesser, Carol Gun Control , San Deigo: Greenhaven Press, 1992
Brady, Sarah “Gun control is Constitutional”, pp.84-85
Kellermann et al. “Suicide in the Home in Relation to Gun Ownership”, The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 327, No. 7, August 13, 1992, pp. 467-472
Kim, Harry Guns and Violence, San Diego: Greenhaven Press,1999
Drane, Ted “America’s gun Violence Problem is Exaggerated”, pp. 55-57
Shuster, Beth “The Public’s Fear of Violent Crime is Excessive”, pp. 46-48
Newton, David Gun Control: an Issue for the Ninties , New Jersey : Enslow Publishers, 1992, p. 77
Niset, Lee ed. The Gun Control Debate , New York: Prometheus Books, 1990
Kates, Don “Comparisons among Nations and Over Time”, pp.187-190
Rosen, Gary Yes and No to Gun Control. Issue: Sept, 2000
Roth, Jeffery A Case For Gun Control