Gun Control Essay

Gun Control

            The United States of America has, through history, been portrayed as the World Police that are in charge of securing the freedom and protection of the rest of the world. As such, this country uses guns in order to ensure the basic protection of these often chaotic and lawless countries from forces that want to hurt the innocent people residing there.

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            While the United States attempts to ensure world freedom and try to achieve a utopia of world peace elsewhere, at home, the country is reverting to the Wild West where people who should not have guns have easy access to such weapons and go about on shooting sprees. Even with all the strict guidelines in place for purchasing a firearm and the even stricter laws governing the use of handguns, the law enforcement officers are powerless to prevent massacres such as those that happened at Columbine and Virginia Tech.

            Research has already provided solid evidence that stricter gun control laws and even licensing requirements are not enough to prevent the events that unfold when a mad person is handed a gun because of loopholes in both systems governing gun control. Therefore, Americans have the right to protect themselves when the law can no longer perform the task it was assigned and entrusted to do. It is the constitutional right of every American to bear arms in order to protect himself, his family, and his property. Only by arming oneself in the expectation of an unknown attacker will a citizen be effectively protected and in a position to save the lives of the people around him.

Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties: 1) Those who fear and distrust the people . . . . 2) Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe . . . depository of the public interest.

— Thomas Jefferson

REFUTATION

Many individuals who have long fought for their right to bear arms have been called civil rights terrorists and first amendment torch bearers by those who do not see the danger in disarming the public and enacting strict gun control laws.  These individuals are giving a knee jerk reaction to the problems of crime in the United States.  Gun control advocates–those who favor additional legal restrictions on the availability of guns or who want to outlaw certain types of guns–argue that the more guns there are, the more crime there will be (Kopel,  1998).

Their focus includes a variety of arguments.

Accidental killings.   The accidental killings of individuals, especially young children, by firearms in the home always receives quite a bit of media attention and incite individuals to fight for more gun control.

Examples from other countries.  Gun control advocates attempt to use the crime rates of countries that have strict gun control laws as a basis of comparison with the United States.

Logically, the fewer guns available means less crime.  Many advocates for gun control argue that fewer guns logically leads to fewer crimes and criminals, especially those who commit mass murder, such as the attacks at Columbine High School and Virginia Tech University (Lampo, 2000).  However, these statements are unproven by empirical research and in many cases, the actual reverse is true.

SUPPORTING ARGUMENTS

The true number of gun-related injury and deaths is very small.

Sadly, thousands of individuals to do die in accidents, some of them gun related.  However, the actual number of these gun accidents that involve children is very, very small, even though they receive much media attention and sensationalism (Lampo, 2000).  “The often repeated claim that 12 children per day die from gun violence includes ‘children’ up to 20 years of age, the great majority of whom are young adult males who die in gang-related violence” (Lampo, 2000).  He also notes that more children die each year from biking accidents, fires caused by space heaters, and by drowning.

Of course, adults also die by accident, but not by guns.  Kopel (1998) notes that the ration of people dying by fire as to firearms is three to one.  The same statistic holds true for drowning victims.  The average citizen is twelve times more likely to die in a car crash than by a handgun.  In addition, those who are injured or killed in gun accidents are not usually innocent bystanders or victims.  They are “not typical gun owners but self-destructive individuals who are also disproportionately involved in other accidents, violent crime and heavy drinking” (Kopel, 1998).   The media tends to portray guns in a negative light, when the numbers attributed to gun deaths are spun in a liberal manner.  Many, many other regular activities cause death of adults and children much more often than guns.

The gun laws of other countries do not directly correlate to the United States.

Many gun opposed individuals point to other countries where strict laws on gun ownership or possession is linked to reduced crime. However, research into other countries does not correlate to the US because it fails to take into account the types of countries they are examining. For example, strict gun control in many tyrannical countries may incite such a fear in its citizens that they would be afraid to own a gun or be to poor to own one.  However, in many developed countries, gun control and/or the prevalence of guns are not related to crime.

One example of this phenomenon is Switzerland.  “Switzerland, through its militia system, distributes both pistols and fully automatic assault rifles to all adult males and requires them to store their weapons at home. Further, civilian long-gun purchases are essentially unregulated, and handguns are available to any adult without a criminal record or mental defect” (Kopel, 1998).  It sounds like Switzerland must have a horrible crime problem.  But they do not.  As a country, Switzerland has less crime in general, and virtually NO gun crime (Kopel, 1998).

In addition, since the ‘concealed carry’ laws have gone into effect, statistics in the US have been compared to Switzerland.  These laws are very popular and have been enacted in a majority of states.  “The key feature of the new concealed-carry laws is that the issuing authority–usually a sheriff or the chief of police–must grant the permit as soon as a citizen can satisfy specific and objective licensing criteria” which include age, residence, criminal, drug use and mental health background checks, armed services records if any, safety training education, and payment of fees (Snyder, 1997).  As of statistics available in the year 2000, the 31 states that these laws allowing concealed weapons have “a 24 percent lower violent crime rate, a 19 percent lower murder rate and a 39 percent lower robbery rate than states that forbid concealed weapons. In fact, the nine states with the lowest violent crime rates are all right-to-carry states” (Lampo, 2000).  Again, the number and availability of guns are not necessarily the problem when it comes to gun crime.

Because the research does not indicate a causal relationship between guns and crime, citizens are not eager to give up this right promised by the second amendment.  In cases where gun ownership and possession have been challenged, the court has stepped in to uphold the Constitution.  For example, just last May, “a federal appeals court invoked the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution to rule that citizens who reside in the District of Columbia can keep a handgun in their home for self-protection” (Lynch 2007).

Criminals will still have guns despite stricter laws.

Sadly, unlike gun proponents argue, gun violence will not stop with stricter gun control laws.  First of all, a criminal will not have a problem breaking a gun control law.  In fact, they are the best at that.  Kopel, 1998, encourages his readers to “assume half of all current handgun owners would disobey a prohibition and that 10 percent of them would be caught.” As survey of prisoners by the National Institute of Justice noted, 90 percent of them were able to get a gun days, even hours, after their release, despite the rule that convicted criminals can never purchase a gun (Kopel, 1998).

Many blame lax gun control laws when tragedies like Columbine and Virginia Tech occur.  Again, “crazed fanatics, undeterred by laws against murder, will not be dissuaded by laws against guns” (Levy, 2007). The two Columbine killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, broke dozens of gun laws,  “so it seems rather dubious to argue that additional laws might have prevented this tragedy.”  They got one gun from a friend and another was already illegal (Lampo. 2000).  Firearms are obtained in many ways besides traditional purchases.  They are given to friends, traded, sold as parts and rebuilt, stolen and even found.  “It would be difficult, if not impossible, to constrain and regulate the transfer of firearms between non-dealer private parties” (Moorhouse & Wanner, 2006, p. 122).

CONCLUSION

Clearly, no significant statistical relationship exists between guns and violent crime.  Sometimes gun ownership rises while crime rates fall.  Sometimes the exact opposite has been true.  Too many factors are involved for one to be deemed the deciding factor in crime.  Because guns can be purchased anywhere at anytime by anyone and because research in other countries does not prove a correlation between guns and crime, the right to bear arms should not be violated in anyway in the United States.

Outline (to be submitted with Annotated APA Bibliography)

Arguable Thesis Even with all the strict guidelines in place for purchasing a firearm and the even stricter laws governing the use of handguns, the law enforcement officers are powerless to prevent massacres such as those that happened at Columbine and Virginia Tech.

I.  Refutation

     A.  Opposing Point 1: the accidental killings of individuals, especially young                         children, by firearms occur in the home

     B.  Opposing Point 2:  the crime rates of countries that have strict gun control laws                are lower than the US

    C.  Opposing Point 3:  fewer guns means fewer crimes and criminals, especially                                  those who commit mass murder, such as the attacks at Columbine High                         School and Virginia Tech University

II.        Supporting Arguments

A.   Main supporting Point 1:  the actual number of these gun accidents that involve       children is very, very small, even though they receive much media      attention and sensationalism

 B.         Main supporting Point 2:  Research into other countries does not correlate                                 to the US because it fails to take into account the types of countries they                                     are examining.

C.        Main Supporting Point 3:  Gun violence will not stop with stricter gun control                            laws; a criminal will not have a problem breaking a gun control law.

Annotated Bibliography:

Kopel, D. (1998).  Trust the People: The Case against Gun Control.  Policy Analysis 109,               Retrieved 9 June 2007 from http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=975&full=1

This source is an excerpt from a book published by Cato about gun control.  Its focus is an extensive literature review of studies done worldwide.

Lampo, D.  (2000). Gun Control: Myths and Realities. Cato Institute. Retrieved 9 June 2007     from  http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=4706

This is an article written by a Cato staff author.  Its focus is to determine the validity of several “truths” associated with gun control.

Levy, R.A. (2007). They Never Learn.  The American Spectator.  Retrieved 9 June 2007 from               http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=8212

This source is a journal reprinted on the Cato website.  It is a review of gun control laws and their effectiveness over the past several decades.

Lynch, T. (2007). Big Win for 2nd Amendment Retrieved 10 June 2007 from

            http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=8128

            This article seeks to establish a basis for using the 2nd Ammendment for allowing citizens           to own guns.  It also recounts court trials about this subject.

Moorhouse, J.C. & Wanner, B. (2006). Does Crime Increase Gun Control? Cato Journal 26.1

This source is a journal article.  It seeks to determine the relationship between crime and gun control by proving causality and by determining causation.

Snyder, J. (1997). Fighting Back: Crime, Self-Defense, and the Right to Carry a Handgun.        Policy Analysis 284, Retrieved 9 June 2007 from

http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=1143&full=1

This source is a journal which examines the constitutional right to bear arms.

Link for Moorhouse and Wanner – http://www.cato.org/pubs/journal/cj26n1/cj26n1-6.pdf