GUN CONTROL Essay, Research Paper
By: Justin Perry
Gun control is a very controversial issue among society at present. Many feel guns are the cause of a great amount of crime. This has been an especially popular topic recently in relation to the shooting at Columbine and other high schools across the country. Are these crimes reason to take away our freedom to bear arms? I do not believe so. The average person uses guns mainly as a means of protection. If limitations are placed on guns, they will only stop the average American from obtaining a gun. The real criminals out there will still be able to obtain guns through the black market. Every American should have the right to protect them self.
As American citizens, we have more rights and freedoms than any other group of people in the world. The founders of this country established these freedoms because they had previously lived in countries where the people did not have as many rights. One of these rights is stated in the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which says ?the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.? But over the years various laws and regulations have infringed upon this right. The reasons for these laws are to get the guns that cause crime and injuries off the streets. But most of these laws have only prevented the common citizen from carring a firearm. There should be some regulation with regard to who can own a gun, but we need to ensure that this regulation is done in a fair and practical manner.
The best argument for the protection of the right to possess arms is the Second Amendment. The purpose of the amendment, and the entire Constitution, is to establish certain rights that cannot be abolished or changed by our government. But the wording of the amendment has been a source of debate. The main argument is that the amendment only provides for a military, and that the ?right to keep and bear arms? is referring to military members only. But the amendment also states that it is the right of ?the people? to keep and bear arms. But is ?the people? referring to only the military or to all citizens in general? In 1990 that question was answered in the Supreme Court case U.S. v. Verdugo-Urquidez. This case was about a man who had committed a crime while in Mexico. The man argued that his constitutional rights had been violated. But the court ruled that since he was outside the United States when the crime was committed, he was not protected. During the case, the question of what the ?right of the people? meant in the Constitution. The court decided that ?? the people? protected by the Fourth Amendment , and by the First and Second Amendments, and to whom rights and powers are reserved in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, refers to a class of persons who are part of a national community.? This decision clearly shows that the right to keep and bear arms is not exclusive to the military, but applies to all United States citizens.
Another argument is that the Second Amendment does not prohibit national and state governments from passing laws that regulate or even ban the selling of certain guns. But the amendment states that that the right to keep guns ?shall not be infringed.? This would mean that any action that would eliminate guns or that would restrict ownership to a very small section of the population would be unconstitutional. But there are many states (California, Maryland, New York, Connecticut?) that have banned certain types of guns, including ?assault weapons? and handguns. These types of laws do not just limit who can purchase a firearm, but they make it illegal for all citizens to own guns. Under the amendment, this is a violation of the Constitution.
Although there is heated argument over the Constitution, most all citizens will agree that there should be some sort of restrictions on who should be able to purchase or carry a firearm. The gun laws vary from state to state, but there is a set of federal statutes that apply to all of the states. The most important of these statutes is the outline of what classes of people are prohibited from possessing firearms. They include convicted felons, fugitives from justice, unlawful users of certain drugs, persons committed to mental institutions, illegal aliens, people less than eighteen years old, and people convicted of any domestic violence. Even strict anti-gun control proponents realize that these types of people should not own guns. They also agree with most of the other federal statutes with regard to who is able to buy, sell, and use firearms. Where there is dispute is over both the Omnibus Crime Bill and the Brady Bill. The Omnibus bill bans so-called ?assault weapons?, and the Brady Bill imposes a mandatory five-day waiting period on the sale of handguns. These types of laws do not restrict firearm ownership to law-abiding citizens, but make it hard or even impossible for these citizens to access certain types of weapons. And as we discussed before, any restriction on the right for citizens to possess firearms is unconstitutional.
Gun control advocates often point out that using a gun for self-defense is not a good argument for owning a gun. They feel that self-defense does not occur often enough to warrant owning guns for that person. This may seem to be a reasonable argument, until you look at the facts. A 1993 nationwide survey showed that citizens use firearms in self-defense against crime 2.1 to 2.5 million times each year, and they use handguns in 1.5 to 1.9 million of those cases. In comparison, firearms are used in approximately 238,000 robberies and 14,000 murders each year. This would mean that people use guns in self-defense almost ten times more than guns are used in crimes. Since criminals can get guns no matter what bans or restrictions are in effect, the only number such regulations will affect would be the number of self-defense cases.
As we have seen, guns are used in a large number of crimes. But how can we reduce the amount of guns used in committing crime, while at the same time keeping intact the rights of the common citizen? One of the ways to do this would be to require everyone who wishes to purchase a gun to take and pass a gun safety course. Many states that allow concealed weapons require this type of test before issuing permits. This would be a one-time test and would involve a background check of the potential gun buyer. The buyer would then receive a card similar to a driver?s license that they would present to the gun dealer before being able to purchase a firearm. Under such a system there would be no waiting periods and no bans on certain types of guns. A type of gun control that would work is an aggressive policing program. Under such a program, the police would search for guns on anyone stopped for minor infractions. Such a program would seek to end the illegal transfer of firearms on our streets. Still another program would be to impose harsher penalties for felons who use firearms in the course of their crime.
Most people agree that gun control is a good thing. Guns are dangerous and should be kept out of the hands of the wrong people. But the Second Amendment provides a clear statement on what the government position with regard to gun control should be. But the regulations now are starting to conflict with the amendment. This would be acceptable if crime has been reduced numerously. But that is not the case. The only effect gun control laws have are to punish the common citizen. There should be restrictions as to who can purchase a firearm, not what types of firearms one can purchase. This would ensure that criminals are left out, but the people that are legally able can have no restriction on their rights.
The greater issue here is the violence culture in America today. Many people today look to violence when they are angered and they do not know any other means to express themselves. That is something that needs to be worked on, more than controlling the possession of guns. It takes a person to shoot another person; a gun doesn?t just get up and shoot someone. If guns are easily available, then the chance of a person using the gun to hurt others is greater. That is why there is gun control. But the act of shooting was done by the person, not by the gun. People need to understand the value of life and the danger of a gun. Unless the violence culture in America is changed, all the regulations and laws against guns will be of no use.
In1989, Chinese civilians were mowed down by their Communist government in Tien An Mein Square. The brave Chinese students fought tanks with rocks and soldiers with their fists. The bloodshed in China raised a good point, without weapons to protect ourselves, what if something similar were to happen here. Although we are a democracy, as more freedoms are taken away, we move farther and farther away from the very idea of America. The history of mankind has many examples of what happens when the state becomes too powerful and there is no check on it by an armed population. It is impossible for the government to control the sales of gun through the black market, which provides these dangerous weapons to murders and drug dealers. Shouldn?t it be the government?s duty to allow the average law abiding citizen to protect them self.
Some believe that guns hurt more than they help, even though statistics prove otherwise. I feel that guns are not as big of a threat to society as people are lead to believe, mainly by the media. Fatal gun accidents declined by almost sixty percent from 1975 to 1995, even though the number of guns per capita increased by almost forty percent. Recently, the media has shown many incidents of shootings in schools. This is nothing new, as the media makes it out to be. Schools have had trouble with crime for many years. Years ago metal detectors were installed in schools across the nation to stop violence in schools. These detectors were placed because there was a problem in the past. Crime related to guns has, in fact, gone down!