School Violence And Gun Control Essay, Research Paper
Guns are instruments of destruction. Although some people say that guns are for protection, for hunting, or even to scare off possible criminals, in reality their sole purpose is to maim or kill either an animal or worse a human being. Guns are most definitely not for everyone, because certain individuals can not handle a gun safely, and still others choose to inappropriately use firearms for criminal acts. While the National Rifle Association s credo, Guns don t kill people, people kill people , may be true, people are still dying. In the past, gun deaths were primarily related to criminal activities and protecting oneself from the criminals.
In recent years, gun death statistics have been changing. Now children are making up a greater percentage of these gun deaths, and they are dying younger and younger. The frightening part is that most of the children are being shot and killed in schools by disgruntled classmates. Statistics show that when guns fall into the hands of children, death is the inevitable result. While many feel that stronger school security will stop this violence, still others insist that a lack of values being taught in the classrooms has caused increased school violence. Today the concept of political correctness unfortunately removes most values teachings from the classrooms. The constitution demands the separation of church and state, which means that although students can pledge their allegiance to the flag, they can t offer up a prayer for their safety.
One of the most critical questions facing our nation today is how can we keep guns away from our children? When a child goes to school the last thing they need to worry about is getting through the day alive. What can we do to safeguard our most precious resource, the children? This report will look at some of the gun control legislation that has been enacted by congress. It will also discuss what the gun industry has done in response to these laws. In addition, it will offer ways to achieve gun control in an acceptable manner.
Why do children feel the need to use guns to resolve disputes? One reason is that our children are becoming more aggressive. This is due to all of the violence they see depicted in the media on a daily basis. Media violence, aggression, as well as the ease with which children can gain access to a firearm are all factors that have resulted in the sharp rise in school violence. There can no longer be any doubt that heavy exposure to televised violence is one of the causes of aggressive behavior, crime and violence in society. The evidence comes from both laboratory and real-life studies. Television violence affects youngsters regardless of age, gender, socio-economic levels, or levels of intelligence. In study after study it has been proven that there is a relationship between television violence and aggression in children. The causal effect of television violence on aggression, even though it is not very large, exists. It cannot be defined or explained away. Researchers have come to believe that a vicious cycle exists in which television violence makes children more aggressive and these aggressive children tend to exhibit a propensity to watch increasingly more violent shows. Television networks believe that violence makes television more interesting and without it the programs will be more boring and that people will go to another network. Since the network doesn t want to lose it s market share, sponsors, and advertising dollars, they continue to increase the amount of violence they show. While the government does regulate some of the programs shown, but they can t monitor them all. Television stations have received many complaints from the public regarding the content of the violent shows that they show on their networks, but to no avail, they can show anything they want because of their constitutional right to freedom of speech. According to some studies the average child watches about 27 hours of television a week. In some cases, it is as much as 11 hours a day on a weekend. With the current amount of violence that is on television today these same studies estimate that the average child sees 8,000 murders and 100,000 before finishing elementary school. Could this truly be why our children are becoming more aggressive? I say, yes, most definitely .
To that end, we ve got all these aggressive young children who lack conflict management skills, who now meet up with the school bully or some one else who makes them angry. How do they resolve the issue? In most cases, they fight or they hold it in and it festers until the day they can t take it anymore. Fighting is never the right thing to do, but when I was in elementary school there was a fight every day, but no one got killed. What makes today so different? Well remember the aggressive children mentioned earlier? Many of them are the quiet ones who bring the knives and guns to school to get even for the real or imagined wrongs done to them by their classmates. Where does a child get a gun and why is it so easy for our children to gain access to a firearm? One of the main reasons that we have problem with guns in the hands of children is the lack of effective gun control. Better gun control is the starting point to eliminating dangerous and unnecessary firearms designed to kill. Gun control is actually many issues wrapped up into two words. To some people gun control is a crime issue, while to others it is a rights issue. Gun control is also a safety issue and an education issue. Within each of these issues, there are those who want gun control legislation, and those who want less gun control legislation. Regulation of guns is a necessary action that needs to be taken in order to save lives. A good definition of gun control is needed to understand the sides and the issues. Gun control is an effort to stop the rise in violent crime by strengthening laws on the ownership of firearms. Persons in the group against gun control believe that gun control is wrong, and that is a violation of constitutional rights. Those in favor of gun control believe that gun control is good and that guns should be taken out of the hands of criminals. Our society has passed several laws regulating the use and ownership of guns. Society does benefit from the use of firearms in the hands of responsible citizens, attempts to keep firearms from responsible citizens cause more harm than good. However, strides are being taken to prevent the safety measures being put on gun control regulations.
People as a society today tend to over react to incidents where children are involved, but what is being done to reduce media violence or to establish effective gun control. The answer not much. There are a large number of people who feel that the problem of school violence is caused by a few troubled teens . These teens have mental problems with distinguishing reality from fiction, notice how when they do a horrendous crime they always blame their problems on a television show or movie that they just saw. Personally, I can t honestly believe that 50% of children can t tell the difference between reality and the images they see on television. Without being taught children make their own assessments of the reality contained in television programs. There is a great deal of violence in both adult and children s programming, just limiting the number of hours children watch television will probably reduce the amount of aggression they see. In addition: Parents should watch at least one episode of the programs their children watch. Parents can encourage their children to watch programs that demonstrate helping, caring and cooperation. Many new laws have come into effect to address youth violence; however, none of these laws have been threatening enough.
The gun industry enjoys a privileged position as America s least regulated commercial enterprise. Gun makers design, manufacture, market, and distribute their products, the only consumer products specifically designed to kill people, with insufficient oversight. Consequently, gun makers routinely fail to include basic safety features into their products. Companies make and sell junk guns, which have inferior materials, construction and design features, and military-style assault weapons, which do not belong in civilian hands. Some companies highlight features of their guns that have particular appeal for criminals, while the industry as a whole deliberately seeks to recruit children as customers. Some distributors and dealers sell guns to people who cannot legally buy them, or who clearly intend to resell them illegally on the street. Meanwhile, the industry vigorously and often successfully resists every effort to establish even minimal regulatory controls. The gun industry includes four main elements: manufacturers, importers, distributors, and dealers. Manufacturers design, produce and advertise guns, most of which they sell to distributors. Importers bring foreign-made guns into the United States to sell mainly to distributors. Distributors sell only to licensed dealers, but some are more careful than others about determining the appropriateness of selling to a given potential buyer. Dealers buy guns from distributors and sell them to consumers. Dealers can operate from any fixed location, including a residence if permitted under local zoning laws.
Without standards, gun makers, even those generally viewed as reputable, pay virtually no attention to the harm caused by dangerous designs and poor construction. Many design flaws, most of which can be fixed with minor modifications, contribute to the toll of gun-related injury and death. Some guns fire if they are dropped or bumped, because they lack a simple device, available for decades, that prevents discharge unless the trigger is pulled. Other guns, even some used by law enforcement agencies, fire with the slightest touch of the trigger, resulting in unintentional shootings. All semi-automatic pistols can have an unseen round in the chamber, yet very few include a device indicating that the chamber is loaded. Some guns are made with inferior materials that are too soft or too weak to withstand the forces generated during use, posing a risk of serious injury to the user as well as to others. Dozens of lawsuits against these manufacturers have resulted in millions of dollars in settlements, but the terms typically include a gag order prohibiting any public disclosure of the details, and the payments are usually covered by insurance policies. Consequently, many manufacturers keep making dangerous guns. However, we can no longer tolerate the regulatory vacuum that has allowed the gun industry to thrive while we endure an epidemic of gun-related injuries and death. We must, at the very least, subject the gun industry to the same kind of oversight that we impose on every other industry.
The House of Representatives has begun consideration of new gun control proposals. The Senate has already passed several provisions including: a requirement that all firearm sales at gun shows be subject to the Brady Law s background check requirement; a requirement that all new handguns come equipped with a safety locking device; and restrictions on the import of high-capacity ammunition magazines. While these Senate-passed measures are important steps forward, they still leave the gun industry itself unchecked. The House now has an opportunity to pursue a more comprehensive and effective gun control agenda one that can truly work to prevent future school tragedies like the ones in Colorado, Arkansas, and Mississippi. The formation of meaningful gun control policy requires that real regulation be applied to the gun industry. Today, firearms are simply exempt from federal health and safety requirements unlike virtually all other products from toys to jumbo jets.
The second amendment states, A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bare Arms, shall not be infringed. This is the battle cry for the individuals that are against gun control, but other than hate groups when was the last time you heard of an organized militia. The second amendment says that citizens have the right to bear arms, but it was written over 200 years ago when there was no army or organized police force, people were called on to arm themselves for their own protection. The founding fathers knew that the people needed a way to protect themselves from many outside forces. Some of these forces included wild animals, unscrupulous people and a corrupt federal government. When the constitution was composed we were just starting out as a country, trying to gain true freedom from England. That is why we have the second amendment. The meaning of militia as far as the United States constitution is concerned is a group of para-military, well-trained people who are sponsored by the state in which they reside, not the federal government. The idea that people actually believe individual ownership of guns is protected under the second amendment of the constitution is a mockery of the amendment itself. People who hold the view that the second amendment reserves the right to bear arms for the citizens of the United States need to re-read the amendment. In 1939 the Supreme Court decided that the possession of a firearm is not protected by the second amendment unless it has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia.
Nobody who reads the newspapers or watches television can avoid the chilling fate that our country faces. School violence is a rapidly growing trend in America, and there seems to be nothing we can do to stop it. The offenders are from all races and social classes. They range from the high school hero to the high school dropout. It often seems that the only thing they have in common is an utter disregard for their own life and the lives of others. Newspaper and television headlines depict harrowing accounts of violence fit for blockbuster fiction thus proving that our country is becoming the victim of a new criminal: youthful rage. Between 1979 and 1993, guns killed more than 60,000 children, a figure greater than the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War. Also a child in the United States is 15 times as likely to die as a result of gunfire than is a child in war-torn Northern Ireland. The statistics only succeed in proving what is becoming incredibly obvious, guns have become the clearest evidence of a growing despair among many American teenagers.
In recent years as youth violence has been more scrutinized by the public, many new laws have come into effect. The debate over what to do with juvenile offenders is one that will never be solved, but can be compromised to come up with a good solution. Currently, offenders who appear in juvenile court do not receive a criminal record. Therefore, when a child appears in front of a new judge, he will have no way of knowing how many times the child has committed the same crime. The law of dismissing children from a criminal record was designed to protect them from stigma and prejudice, but more often there are negative results received not by the child, but by their victim. States have experimented with such things as punishing parents for crimes their children commit, and many have begun to charge children accused of major crimes as adults. However, none of these laws have been threatening enough. To many, trying children as adults is the only fit punishment, but it has not been as helpful as its proponents had hoped. Usually, when these children are sent to adult institutions, they are sexually molested and taught new crimes. When the child leaves the institution, which many call crime school , the child is now more dangerous than he ever had been. There have been many crime camps , instituted with juvenile offenders in mind, as well. At these camps, young offenders take part in skills streaming where they learn new ways to deal with real life situations. Whether any of these options really work is really in the eye of the public, and they cannot seem to agree.
Keeping guns out of the hands of children requires an increased commitment to responsibility, education and safety. This commitment will need to be made by more than one person in order for it to be halted. Every parent, every child, every teacher, and every citizen is going to have to stand up and help achieve a solution. As of now, these students committing these crimes are literally getting away with murder, and the media is glamorizing their actions. In addition, because of the lack of effective punishment, our children are being taught that as long as you are under 18 you can get away with killing someone. The guns that these children use to shoot other children all start out in the hands of adults, since you have to be 18 to buy a firearm. Parents whose children gain access to improperly stored guns in the home should be faced with criminal penalties. Gun dealers should also take greater responsibility for keeping weapons out of the hands of children or risk losing their federal firearm license. The best way to keep our schools safe is to utilize the hands-on experience of teachers, parents, and law enforcement. There is a bill that provides funding for grants to assist successful ant-gun violence programs designed by schools working with local law enforcement, parent-teacher organizations, and community based organizations. When it comes to children, the safest gun is one that a kid cannot use. The McCarthy/Roukema/Porter/Kennedy bill will require gun manufacturers to produce guns with improved safety features, such as increase trigger resistance standards, child safety locks, manual safeties, and magazine disconnect safeties.
In the past, over 20,000 gun control bills have been passed through Congress, and crime is still running rampant through America s streets. The Nation Firearms Act of 1934 was the first federal gun law to be passed. This act imposed a two hundred-dollar excise tax on the sale of fully automatic weapons. The Gun Control Act of 1968 made it a requirement for all gun dealers to have a federal license. This same act also banned the sale of guns through the mail and the sale of guns to all people who have formerly been convicted of violent felonies. It also prohibited dealers from selling handguns out of state, and out-of-state residents from buying handguns. These have not eliminated gun-related crime either.