Who Is The Real Killer Essay, Research Paper
Who is the Real Killer?
Do guns kill people or do people kill people? This is one of many questions brought up when we talk about gun control. Gun control is a very controversial issue in our country today. This paper will hopefully give us a better understanding about the pros and cons of private citizens owning guns.
American children are more at risk from firearms than children in any other industrialized nation. In one year, firearms killed no children in Japan, 19 in Great Britain, 57 in Germany, 109 in France, 153 in Canada, and 5,285 in the United States. As the rate of American gun violence increased over the last fifteen years, American children paid the price. Between 1984-1994 the firearm death rate for 15-19 year olds increased 222% while non-firearm deaths dropped almost 13%. Within five years, firearms are expected to overtake motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of death among American children.
Over 6,000 students were expelled in 1996-97 for bringing guns to school. The American Medical Association Journal reports that between 36% and 50% of male eleventh graders believe they could easily get a gun if they wanted one. Guns do kill people, especially when carried by children. More than 800 Americans, young and old, die each year from guns shot by children under the age of 19.
In 1996, more than 1,300 children aged 10-19 committed suicide with firearms. Unlike suicide attempts using other methods, suicide attempts with guns are nearly always fatal. Two-thirds of all completed teenage suicides involve a firearm. Suicide is nearly 5 times more likely to occur in a household with a gun than in a household without a gun.
There are very few laws governing children’s access to guns. The Brady Law made it illegal for people under age 21 to purchase handguns from licensed dealers, although a loophole still permits 18-21-year-olds to purchase handguns from private or unlicensed individuals. Most gun owning families store guns loaded, unlocked, or both. The presence of a gun in the home triples the risk of homicide in the house.
Here are a few more facts about why it is dangerous for private citizens to own guns:
*In 1996, there were 10,744 murders with firearms in the United States.
*In 1996, there were 9,390 murders with handguns in the United States.
*In 1997, there were about 440,000 violent crimes committed with firearms in the United States.
* In 1997, firearm injuries were the second leading cause of injury and death for all ages.
* Guns were used in approximately 7 out of every 10 murders in the U.S. in 1997.
* Handgun buyers with prior misdemeanor convictions are many times more likely than those with no such history to be arrested for crimes after purchasing a handgun.
* In the early 1990’s, 7% of armed career criminals obtained firearms from licensed gun shops.
In contrast to the above reasons given for gun control there are many arguments on behalf of citizens maintaining the right to own guns. Some states are showing a drop in violent crimes since they have adopted right-to-carry laws. The Second Amendment of our constitution upholds the right to keep and bear arms. This amendment became part of the constitution to enable the people of our country to protect themselves.
A 1999 study by the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence shows that liberalizing concealed weapons laws may have an adverse effect on a state’s crime rate. Between 1992 and 1997, the violent crime rate in states which kept strict concealed weapon laws fell by an average of 24.8%. The 29 states that use the NRA line that hidden handguns make them safer only saw a decline in violent crime rate of 11.4%. Nationally, violent crime declined by 19.4% in those five years.
Out of 1,800 prisoners surveyed, 81% agree that the “smart criminal” will attempt to find out if a potential victim is armed. 74% of the prisoners felt that burglars avoid occupied dwellings for fear of being shot. 57% of “handgun predators” had encountered armed citizens. 57% felt that the typical criminal feared being shot by citizens more than he feared being shot by police. 39% did not commit a specific crime for fear that the victim was armed. 69% of “handgun predators” personally knew other criminals who were scared off or shot at by armed victims.
The following is a story about two people who were able to protect themselves, and possibly save their own lives, with a handgun they kept in their home:
The 42 bullet holes police counted in the Gonzalez home the morning of Aug. 2, 1997, are stark evidence of the sheer terror the couple endured on the night that changed their lives.
The night seemed to be winding down as any other. While Mike Gonzalez slept, his wife sat on the couch watching television and waiting for their 18-year-old son to arrive home from a friend’s house, where he had been playing video games.
Susan Gonzalez remembers hearing the doorknob jiggle about 12:40 a.m. She thought to herself as she walked toward the door, “Wow, he’s early.” Suddenly the door flew open and two masked men burst into the house wearing gloves and camouflage jackets and waving guns. One of them ordered Susan Gonzalez to lie down, but she ran. He chased her back to the master bedroom, where she woke her husband and tried to hold the door shut. She was shot in the chest. “It burned like a fire going through me,” she said. As her husband, 43, wrestled with the two robbers in the living room, Susan Gonzalez dialed 911, told the operator they were being shot, gave her address and hung up. She then grabbed her husband’s Ruger .22 from a drawer in the headboard and, fearing she would hit her husband by mistake, fired several shots over the robbers’ heads to scare them off. It didn’t work. “One came towards me firing, and I ran,” she said. “After running to my bedroom, the intruder didn’t follow me all the way . . . because he now knew I had a gun also.” She peered out from her bedroom doorway and saw one of the gunmen, Raymond Waters Jr., crouched near her refrigerator. She crept along the wall, sneaked up behind him and emptied the Ruger, hitting him twice with her seven or eight remaining bullets. The other gunman, Robert Walls, then shot Susan Gonzalez, now out of ammunition, as she retreated to the bedroom again.
The following facts are supportive of those who want to keep guns:
** One-quarter of adults in the United States own a gun and only about one in six Americans own a handgun.
** Americans use firearms to defend themselves from criminals about 760,000 times a year
** Approximately 11% of gun owners and 13% of handgun owners have used their firearms for protection from criminals.
** When citizens use guns for protection from criminals, the criminal is wounded in 1 out of every 100 instances, and the criminal is killed 1 out of every 1000 instances.
** Washington D.C. enacted a virtual ban on handguns in 1976. In the next 15 years the homicide rate rose 200%.
** As of 1998, 31 states have right-to-carry laws, and about half the U.S. population lives in these states.
**Florida adopted a right-to-carry law in 1987. Between 1987 and 1996, the homicide rate dropped 36%, firearm homicide rate dropped 37%, and the handgun homicide rate fell by 41%.
** As of 1998, no permit holder has ever shot a police officer. There have been several cases in which a permit holder has protected an officer’s life.
** As of 1998, nationwide, there has been 1 recorded incident in which a permit holder shot someone following a traffic accident.
** 221,443 concealed carry licenses were issued in Florida between 1987 and 1994. During that time only 18 crimes were committed by licensees.
Proponents of gun control will argue that guns kill people when in the hands of untrained private citizens. They support gun control to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and children. Supporters of the Second Amendment will say that guns protect people from criminals and save many lives each year. They also advocate private ownership of guns for responsible recreational use and personal protection. Perhaps the answer is not in making more laws, but enforcing the ones we have.