Jamie S. Walker
It caused the death of Presidents Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy. It also put Martin Luther King Jr. into silence and so many other public figures who initiated a change in the society (Rushefsky). This also led many other ordinary people to serious injuries and even a horrific death – gun violence. This issue concerns about the country’s security, our community’s security, our family’s security and our own security.
These events triggered the policy makers to address this problem regarding this issue – the gun control issue. As for now, the government had made steps on this. Some was found to be effective like that of Boston’s Operation ceasefire while on the other hand the buy back programs were not that effective (Wikipedia).
Various groups including Non Government Organizations also see these problems and debates have been incurred. Among those sectors were the National Rifle Association of the United States, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (Wikipedia) and many other organizations. These organizations presented different claims or arguments regarding gun control.
Gun Rights or Gun Control?
The debate on gun ownership is mainly focused on the Second Amendment of the Constitution. This deals with the protection of the “right of the people to keep and bear arms”. Gun Control campaigners believe that the right of individual to bear a weapon does not extend to the level of having military-style firearms which they label as assault weapons. On the other hand, gun rights promoters, led by the American Rifle Association argued that the proposal was a violation to the constitutional rights of the people (OpenSecrets.org).
According to the gun control supporters, yearly, more than two thousand people in the United States pass away from gun-related injuries. And most of them are young adolescents and children (Answers Corporation). The claim was opposed again by the anti sectors serving the public some myths about this claim. Gun control promoters assert that gun shows are accountable in the fall of those weapons into the hands of the wrong persons, the criminals (McClurg, Kopel and Denning). In contrast, various groups dispute it.
The Right to Bear Arms
The Constitution was amended for the protection of the “right of the people to bear arms”. The Gun control advocates premise is that the high powered automatic or semi-automatic guns known as assault weapons should be restrained from civilians use. This is an appeal to the Columbine high school massacre happened in April 20 1999, where two gunmen, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, made a shooting rampage leaving 12 persons (including a teacher) dead and 24 more injured, before committing suicide (Suárez and Van Cleave). They also brag the government to impose mandatory safety locks, check the background of the people who want to purchase guns, limit on the number of guns a person can buy and raise the age perimeter of people to purchase gun. (OpenSecrets.org). Gun rights promoters debunk this idea. They say that these proposals contravene to the constitution – the right of the people. The control on some type of weapons is found to be ineffective in diminishing violent crime. Moreover, there is no statistical evidence or direct link that indeed gun ownership increased the rates of homicides and other violent crimes, because even when gun ownership is stable, still the crime rate continues to increase rapidly.
On the other hand the proposal on a more strict background check is a way on eliminating gun shows. Moreover, the proposal in imposing safety locks becomes a big burden to the gun manufacturers, pointing out that these safety locks do not show any concrete benefit to the public. But still, some manufacturers volunteered to submit into the proposal (OpenSecrets.org).
Firearm Death of the Young
They say that thousands of people die from the misuse of guns in the United Sates alone. And they claimed that most of them are children or the young people who are defenseless. This claim has been found to be untrue. Gun accidents that involve children are low. Based on the 1997 data, 642 gun accidents has incurred and 142 of them are children below 15 years (Lampo). More children that die every year was involved in accidents such as drowning, bicycle accidents, and other accidents, but not gun-related ones. They claim that the perception that 12 “children” die each year because of improper handling of guns was untrue because their standard was not that clearly defined. They are talking about the people up to 20 years of age as children. It is seen that majority of those “children” that they were pertaining to die from gang related violence (Lampo).
Gun Shows for the Criminals
It is an often repeated claim that guns used by the criminals are often those from the commercial gun dealers. Contrary to former president Bill Clinton, there is no loophole in gun shows. All of the commercial gun dealers run through a tedious process of background check and only few small non-commercial sellers are excused from this. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, about only two percent of guns used by criminals are from gun shows which are purchased officially. And people who passed the background check are the only ones given permission to carry (Lampo). Relatively, this figure is low compared to what they claim that majority of those that has been used by the criminals are from the commercial gun dealers or from those gun shows. In addition, criminals or as what their name implies are law-breakers. Thus, these criminals, who commit these killings by gun, would have probably acquired their weapons illegally, and not the process in which background check is implemented.
It is no doubt that gun is a very dangerous invention of mankind. Moreover, it becomes a threat to people’s lives when given to the wrong hands (Updike). It may cause long term damage not only in the realm of our physical body but also in some other aspects such as emotional, mental and psychological and worse, it may be a cause of death, and that is more likely. It is hazardous but it can also be beneficial to mans’ own preservation. It is a tool to secure one’s life not just only for one to exist but rather to live and contribute to the society’s further development.
In a scenario when you live miles away from your next neighbor and someone broke into your house. Having a 911 access is not a guarantee that you will be kept safe, moreover, it is not a guarantee that it could keep you alive. The intruder may have come in contact with you even before you have grabbed the phone to call. In this case, a need to have a firearm is clearly seen.
There are hundreds or even thousand of instances that deals with the need of the civilians to have a protection firearm of there own. Protection is what people are after, not violence.
What are needed, to avoid gun-related crimes, is a more strict background check and proper handling of these guns. Guns should not only be issued to people who have “no crime record”, but the government should also consider that people that would be permitted to carry these weapons should have gone proper training or should know the proper handling and storage of guns, just so to avoid accidents that are related to improper handling of guns. Moreover, strict implementation of gun bans on certain areas and occasions should also take place.
Lampo, David. “Gun Control:Myths and Realities.” Cato Institute, 2007.
McClurg, Andrew J., David B. Kopel, and Brannon P. Denning. Gun Control and Gun Rights : A Reader and Guide. New York: New York University Press, 2002.
OpenSecrets.org. “Gun Control Vs. Gun Rights”. 2004. (June 10, 2004). February 18, 2007 2007. <http://www.opensecrets.org/news/guns/>.
Rushefsky, Mark E. Public Policy in the United States: At the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century. Criminal Justice: To Ensure Domestic Tranquility (Chapter 7)
M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 2002.
Suárez, Virgil, and Ryan G. Van Cleave. “Like Thunder : Poets Respond to Violence in America.” Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2002. xiii, 222.
Updike, John. “The Early Stories, 1953-1975.” (2003): xv, 838.
Wikipedia. “Gun Violence in the United States”. 2007. (15:50, February 12, 2007): Wikipedia Foundation Incorporated. February 18 2007. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States>.