Gun Control Essay, Research Paper
Research Paper on Gun Control
Americans are faced with an ever-growing problem of violence. The United States has the most heavily armed population on the earth, and are we not one of the world’s most violent people societies? Surely these facts must be at least casually connected. Therefore, the apparently desperate need to “do something” about the vast quantity of firearms and firearms abuse is obvious. Our streets have become a battleground where the elderly are beaten for their social security checks, where terrified women are viciously attacked and raped, where teen age gangsters shoot it out for a patch of turf to sell their illegal drugs, and where innocent children are caught daily in the crossfire of drive-by shootings. We cannot ignore the damage that these criminals are doing to our society, and we must take actions to stop these horrors. By preventing convicted criminals and teens from acquiring guns, the United States will not sacrifice the rights of law-abiding citizens to posses guns, just felons and irresponsible people.
Since the days of the pioneers of the United States, firearms have been part of the American tradition as protection and a means of hunting or sport. As we near the end of the 20th century the use of guns has changed significantly. Because of fast and steady increase in crime and the fight for the right to own a handgun, the introduction of legislation for gun control, to try to reduce the crime in the United States, has been a hotly debated issue in recent years. Although many people feel that gun control violates the right of the people, given in the second amendment “the right to bear arms”, controlling distribution and sales and the registration of guns and gun owners is necessary because of the homicide rate involving guns and the violence by criminals using guns. “On June 17, in the aftermath of the massacre at Columbine High School and a similar, if less grisly, incident the following month in Conyers, Georgia, the House of Representatives passed a “juvenile crime bill” steadfast in its refusal to limit the ease with which juveniles can lay their hands on firearms,” (Lazare/1.) Many people feel that gun control violates the right of the people given in the second amendment the right “to bear arms”. Opponents of gun control, including the National Rifle Association, better known as the NRA, argue that the “right To bear arms” is guaranteed in the second amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America and licensing restrictions penalize law-abiding citizens while in no way preventing criminal use of handguns. It is also argued that by making it difficult for guns to be bought and registered by the American public, there is a threat to the personal safety of American families everywhere. However controlling the sale and distribution of firearms is necessary because of the homicide rate involving guns. In 1988 there were 9000 handgun-related murders in America. Metropolitan centers and some suburban communities of America are setting new records for homicides by handguns. Larger Metropolitan centers have ten times the murder rate of all Western Europe. For example, “in Washington, DC there was an estimated 400 homicides including guns; half of those were committed by ex-felons”(Preston/3.) Gun control has been recently under fire because of the recent violence by teens, and convicted criminals using guns. Gun control is wrapped in a series of social issues such as crime and drugs. “The murder rate has varied between about 8 and 10 per 100,000 throughout the ’80s and ’90s. The high poll numbers favoring gun control in the early part of the period correlate to a high murder rate, while the low figures in the mid-’80s match a lower rate, followed by higher numbers as the rate moved up once more in the early ’90s” (Preston/1.) Guns have become closely linked to drugs and murder in the public mind. Drug dealing and high tech weaponry have escalated the warfare in cities between long established loosely knit gangs. The majority of crimes in this country that involve guns; are associated with gang members. Many police officers are killed every year due to drug and gang related incidents involving guns. For example in 1988 on February 26 rookie New York City police officer Edward Byre was sitting alone in his police car guarding the house of a drug trial witness in South Jamaica, Queens where he was shot four times in the head and killed.
“However controversial the meaning of the Second Amendment is today, it was clear enough to the generation of 1789” (Kates Jr./1639.) The amendment assured people to carry firearms for safety or sport. This Amendment, however, did not specify how the guns would be controlled. It was amended by federal and state law from its establishment to present time. The ownership of firearms by minors, felons, and the mentally impaired, along with carrying a gun outside the home, is limited or banned by most states.
The West Virginia State Legislature is currently trying to pass a bill that changes the age for applying for a gun from eighteen years of age to twenty-one. Also it changes the waiting period from thirty days to forty-five days. The law already states “that the applicant is not addicted to alcohol, a controlled substance or a drug, and is not an unlawful user thereof; that the applicant has not been convicted of a felony or of an act of violence involving the misuse of a deadly weapon; that the applicant has no current criminal charges pending and is not currently serving a confinement, parole, or probation or other court ordered supervision.”(H.B. 2605/ Jan. 21, 2000.) Citizens applying for a gun must wait approval by the sheriff, and pay the license fee before they are deemed acceptable. The sheriff also reserves the right to take away the license at any point of time, if a licensed citizen fails to obey gun control laws.
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV), (Coalition) was founded in 1974 to combat the growing gun violence problem in the United States. CSGV is a unique coalition of more than forty religious, professional, labor, medical, educational and civic organizations. The Coalition counts more than 100,000 individual supporters nationwide. The goal of CSGV is the orderly elimination of the private sale of handguns and assault weapons in the United States. The CSGV seeks to “ban handguns and assault weapons from importation, manufacture, sale and transfer by the General American public” (www.gunfree.com/2-12-00). Reasonable exceptions made for police, military, security personnel, gun clubs where guns are secured on club premises, gun dealers trading in antique and collectable firearms kept and sold in inoperable condition. “Hunting weapons, such as shotguns and rifles would be unaffected by these bans, because they do not pose a large threat to the American public the way handguns and assault weapons do,” the Coalition states.
In addition to a ban, the Coalition supports intermediate steps to reducing gun violence. These steps include: limiting the availability of gun dealers licenses; increasing gun dealers license fees; restrictively licensing and registering gun owners; increasing the handgun and ammunition taxes to offset health care costs; imposing strict liability for gun manufacturers and dealers; regulating firearms as consumer products; banning Saturday Night Specials; and establishing a national one-handgun-a-month purchase limit.
To accomplish these goals, CSGV engages in a vigorous program of lobbying the US Congress and state legislatures. CSGV provides technical support to activist organizations across the country and is building the Cease-fire Action Network, a national network of grassroots activists dedicated to stopping gun violence.
The template for the ultimate solution against guns can be seen to the north, in Canada. Owners have had to register handguns there since 1934. A far more constricting law was passed after a 1989 case in Montreal when a young man shot 23 people at a college, killing 14, and then shot himself.
“In what many gun control advocates hope will be a North American awakening for tighter controls on firearms,” (New York Times) reported recently, “all Canadian gun owners must obtain licenses by the end of next year and register their guns by the end of 2002.”
In conclusion there are valid reasons for why certain people feel that gun control is unfair. People against gun control feel that it is a violation of the Constitution to control the sale and distribution and the registration of guns and gun owners. But it is necessary for there to be certain limits on the way in which firearms are handled in this country because of the homicide rate involving guns and because of the violence created by criminals, and teenagers using guns. If gun control legislation were to go through there would be a significant decline in gun-related crimes and fatalities.
Http://www.gunfree.org/, 2/12/00. Welcome to Gunfree.
Cooper, Joseph P. (1999, October 4). “A definitive gun law could work.” The National
Law Journal, 22 (6), A25.
Preston, Mark. (1999, October). “Mayors in D.C. for gun
measures.” American City and County, 114, 12, 16.
“Second Amendment.” (1986). In Encyclopedia of American
Constitution (Vol. 4, pp. 1639- 1640). New York: MacMillan.
West Virginia State Legislature. Committee Substitue
For H.B. 2605:2000. West Virginia: Legislature, 2000.