, Research Paper
At Close Range, Survival is Rare
Gun Control issues have been apart of American landscape since the days of pioneers. The use of guns has changed over the years. Once used by settlers to survive, guns are now used in killing humans across the United States. Jim Reibsame, a contributor to the Dallas Morning News stated, ?There is an urban outrage at some of the practices at controlling predators. There is a popular notion that we should let the wolves live, which happens to contrast with a century-plus of attitudes that we need to eradicate them? (Reibsame n.pg.). It is in the best interest of the U.S. to set standard gun control laws, and preserve the ones already created by legislation over the past 30 years. By doing so, millions of lives will be saved, guns will not end up in the hands of convicted felons and innocent children, while the powers granted in the Constitution will remain intact.
For Americans the fight over the right to bear arms has been discussed since the creation of the Constitution. The original intent and purpose of the Second Amendment was to preserve and guarantee, not grant the pre-existing right of individuals, to keep and bear arms. Although the amendment emphasizes the need for a militia, membership in any militia let alone a well-regulated one is not required to exercise the right to keep and bear arms. According to Joyce Lee Malcolm from the Harvard University Press, ?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? (n.pg.).
If such rights were to be infringed upon, groups such as the NRA (National Rifle Association) would become outraged. The organization of groups such as these have made it harder for the U.S. legislation to pass heavily needed Gun Control laws. Because of the huge following of American citizens, the NRA has strong legal power in the judicial system. By having powerful politicians involved in the NRA, this organization has pushed its way into congress and into the legal system by popular vote among senators who strongly support the right to bear arms. Along with celebrity endorsements the NRA has been a powerful group in keeping the wide spread use of guns legal, and easily obtainable. Celebrities such as Ted Nuget and Tom Selek have been associated with such a group.
Popular celebrities such as these along with the President of the NRA, Charlton Heston have used magazine and television ads to scare many American families into believing they need to possess some type of gun or weapon to remain safe in their own home. Contradictory to that belief, according to the FBI, there were only 126 justifiable handgun homicides compared with a total of 9,390 handgun murders in the U.S. (FBI n.pg.). Heavily promoting hunting season, the NRA has even sponsored hunting skill classes for young teens. When teens do go hunting, they do not know the threat they pose on each other. Wearing camaflouge, they may accidentally shoot one another thinking it was an animal. Many teens today that do get a hunting license are not mature or skilled enough to operate a firearm.
To understand why there is a need for the country to control and restrict guns from teens and felons, it is important to know what role guns play in American society today. According to Jim Reibsame, ?Guns are the mouth parts of the violence epidemic. The contemporary urban environment breeds violence no less than swamps breed mosquitoes? (n. pg.). Many others feel the same way and believe that society has done nothing to stop the blaze of gunfire. Mrs. Brady, a strong advocate of gun control believes that, ?It took the deaths of 13 innocent children to stop Colorado, Florida, Michigan, and other states from passing NRA-sponsored pro-gun legislation (Brady n. pg.).
Both Reibsame and Brady agree here that guns need to be controlled to stop guns from getting into the hands of unskilled gun users. Guns are spreading at a rapid-fire pace, due to the lack of control over widespread use of guns. If the distribution of guns does not slow down America will never be able to control the violence guns bring out, or the lives lost from guns falling into the wrong hands such as children and criminals. The selling of guns will not bother the NRA, because they feel the more guns people own, the more they will feel safe in their own home. But, the only way to stop them is with states rejecting their ?pro-gun legislation? (Brady n.pg.). When people start to identify the problems that guns bring out in society then they will find ways to solve the problem. Over the past ten years, several states have flatly prohibited the carrying of concealed weapon (n.pg.), it is finally time that America is starting to wake up to the harsh reality of gun use.
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, sales, and the registration of guns by gun owners is necessary because of the homicide rate involving guns and the violence by criminals using guns. Opponents of Gun control, including the NRA argue that the right to bear arms is guaranteed in the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the Unites States of America need licensing restrictions penalize law-abiding citizens while in no way of preventing criminal use of handguns. The NRA has failed at looking into the reasons that gun control is so important. They do not realize that there were 9,000 handgun-related murders in 1998 all over America. They have also failed to see that 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. Predominantly gang members use guns of crime. Many police officers are also killed every year due to drug and gang related incidents involving guns. Another one of the many culprits of showing guns as means of power in society is the entertainment business.
With today?s movies and television shows, projecting the use of guns in gangs and fights, guns are portrayed as a way to solve conflict. The aftermath and consequences that come with the use of guns is often forgotten or not shown. What many do not often realize is that gun manufacturers will pay movie production companies to use their brand of gun in a scene, so they may get a wider audience of gun users. According Mark DeAntionio, the director of Inpatient Adolescent Services, ?The biggest problem I see in America is to have adolescents who have access to firearms. It?s a lethal mixture (DeAntonio n. pg.).
It is very evident that teens and gun violence go hand in hand with the staggering numbers of teens killed every year. The FBI recently reports that, ? Youth violence comprises 13% of violent crime and 8% of murder, and that a child is accidentally killed by a handgun every day? (FBI n.pg.). Never before has the country lost so many kids in such a short period of time in public schools. With the recent aftermath of Columbine and other school related shootings. In 1996, 6,000 students were expelled for bringing guns to school. According to a national school survey, between 36-50% of male 11th graders believe they could easily carry a gun to school. But what affects the whole county is that, handguns are used in over 55% of all murders. (School crime prevention n.pg.)
It is devastating, how the shot of one gun affects so many lives, but it is not one person who is doing the damage, it is a nation wide epidemic, and now more than ever there are thousands of reasons why guns are falling into the wrong hands. This enormous problem has started at home. Parents are unaware that their guns are so easily accessible to children in the home. According to David B. Kopel, an author who has written on the benefits of handgun prohibition, ?a child is accidentally killed by a handgun every day? (Kopel 50). Because guns are so accessible to children, they often bring them to school where the consequences can be fatal and devastating to many. The FBI recently reported that over the course of one year, 186,000 students brought guns into the schools school around the United States alone (FBI n. pg.).
Even the roles parents play in the home affect the way children think. Many parents do not talk to their kids about the dangers of guns and violence. Many are afraid that telling their children will emotionally traumatize them. An excerpt from the Los Angeles Daily News testified that, ?It?s good for ratings, even if it may be bad for the psyches of children, voters and politicians. Fear sells. Kids are impressionable and may become copycats. Adults are impressionable? (25). Many parents have found though that the only way to teach the young adolescent minds is to scare them by telling them about the dangers of handling guns. It has also been easy for the average Samaritan to purchase guns or steal guns. Many gun dealers do not do thorough enough background checks, so felons often end up with guns that are then linked to homicides.
As the homicide rates have been skyrocketing the government has stepped in very strongly over the past ten years. With such bills as the Brady Bill which sets up strict limits on purchasing guns. Passed in 1990, the Brady Bill set a waiting period of 5 working days from the time a customer purchases a gun to the time they can pick up the gun. This is so gun dealers can do background checks so guns do not end up in the hands of felons. According to a 1998 FBI report, the media account reports 69,000 handgun sales were blocked in 1997 and, more than three out of five sales were rejected because the buyer had a felony conviction or was under felony indictment (n.pg.).
U.S. citizens have been fed up with the violence guns has brought to their neighborhoods and has set up a set of rational gun control proposals. Their goals are to prohibit the ownership of guns by convicted felons, to ban them from owning guns, and to require anyone who wants to buy the gun acquire a federal permit. Then lastly for it to be illegal for people to carry a loaded gun or even possess a gun while not in the confinement of their homes where guns should be locked up. But, the strongest step the nation has taken so far is to reinforce already existing laws that already hold means of controlling the use of handguns. The 1968 Gun control Act required all gun owners to be licensed. They also required all guns to be registered to licensed owners. With all of this legislation, their ultimate goal was to forbid gun ownership by convicted felons and keep guns out of the reach of children.
If the resources were committed to convict and incarcerate every felon caught illegally possessing a gun, many dangerous felons would be incapacitated and others would learn to live without the use of guns. But society today, is not willing to commit the billions of dollars that would be required in an effort to fight violent crime. Gun control aims to reduce criminal use of guns as much as possible, and, at the same time to interferes as little as possible with gun use.
Over the past several years, the U.S. has been devastated, by the affects guns have on society. As guns become more easily accessible, more violence has occurred, and innocent lives have been lost. With the recent shooting massacre at Columbine High School, America must stare gun use in the face, and not accept defeat. With the power legislation has over guns, passing laws may prevent such brutal crimes from happening in the first place. Gun control is the only way to contain the use of handguns and prevent them from ending up in the hands of children and felons. It is up to the government and U.S. citizens to stop gun violence now before future generations become targets at a firing range.
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