A Research Of University Of Aruba Students’ Thoughts On Gun Ownership
Guns and the laws concerned with it are one of the most contentious topics. Gun laws in the United States of America (US) especially is one of the most lenient in the world and the website vox.com states “America is one of 6 countries that make up more than half of gun deaths worldwide”. The US and its laws are often thought of and used as an example when speaking on the topic of firearms.
Guns are also attainable in Aruba through the request of a license. Under firearm falls weapons such as a rifle, pistol or other portable gun. These are weapons which have a metal tube in which ammunition such as missiles, shells and bullets are expelled by the action of an explosive. In Aruba, there are currently no stores legally selling firearms to the general public, unless for sporting.
This research report will consist of three chapters consisting of literature review, methodology and results. These will aid in answering the research question of “What Are University of Aruba Students’ Thoughts on Gun Ownership?”. Chapter one will be the literature review where current laws, crime associated with guns, mental illnesses and ownership reasons will be elaborated on. Chapter two will be explain the methodology with more information on the participants, measures and method of sampling. Chapter three will summarize the results of the research along with discussion and recommendations. This research report will end with a conclusion. The conclusion will be followed by a reference list and appendix.
As of 1999, laws in Aruba state that in order for civilians to own a gun, they must obtain a license approved by the minister of Justice and Public Works (Landsbesluit Ontplofbare Stoffen). The requirements to be able to own a license for a firearm is that it must be stored in a sound and well-sealed article, on which in clear letters is stated what object is within the article. In addition, the article has to be stored in a closed off room with the potential licensee having the only key. Applicants who do not meet the requirements are denied a license. Furthermore, firearms must not be of a greater calibre than 13 millimeters and with ammunition up to 20.000 pieces. Upon receiving a license, licensee’s may legally carry a firearm with up to 250 pieces of ammunition.
The ownership of a firearm enacts responsibility, guns are deadly weapons used in wars. The question is, should guns be in the hands of civilians? The United States of America’s (USA) gun laws give civilians the ability to buy a gun without much restriction. The USA also experiences many gun-related crimes, the state of Louisiana has a rate of firearm deaths from 10.2 per 100.000. Louisiana has the highest rates in the country, whereas in Hawaii, the lowest rate in the USA, it is 0.4 per 100.000.
Swanson and Felthous argue that people with mental illnesses may seek to own a firearm “to imitate previous famous attackers, and were motivated by delusional beliefs about their own importance and agency” (2015). Aruba’s license requirements are strict yet lenient enough for people with an underlying mental illnesses to be able to obtain a license.
The website people-press.org asserts that 48 percent of gun owners within the USA own a firearm for the reason of protection as of February of 2013. The survey conducted by Pew Research Center found that there had been an increase of 22 percent for the guns ownership reason of protection in comparison to the statistics of August of 1999, in which 26 percent of gun owners stated protection for the reason of ownership. Although hunting was the most common reason for firearm ownership in 1999, protection surpassed it in the study of February of 2013. Other reasons for ownership include sporting, hobby and other. The protection reason is rising whilst the other reasons are declining.
Method of Sampling
The method for sampling data on University of Aruba (UA) students’ opinions on gun ownership in Aruba was through a survey. The website opentextbc.ca defines survey research as “a quantitative approach that features the use of self-report measures on carefully selected samples”. Questions that were posed in the survey asked for students’ opinion on firearms, if their opinion has always been the same and if they have any knowledge of the current laws on firearms in Aruba.
The survey was conducted from December 7th to December 12th of 2018. In total there were six participants from three faculties. All participants were first year students at the University. There were three participants from the Faculty of Arts and Science who are studying Organization, Governance and Management (OGM), two participants from Finance, Accounting & Marketing and one participant from Academic Foundation Year. The participants received the survey through e-mail and filled the questions in through Google Forms. Survey questions were posed in English.
In total, six participants were approached for the survey via Whatsapp on December 6th at 5.30pm. All six participants agreed to give their opinion on the topic of gun laws in Aruba. The age of participants ranged from 17 to 47. Out of the six participants, one was male and the rest were female.
The results of the survey indicate that 100% or all six of the University of Aruba students who participated in the survey find that firearms are dangerous and that only mentally healthy people or law enforcement should have access to firearms. The participants mention that guns should only be used as a last resort in dire situations. On the question of how they feel about gun laws in Aruba, 50% found that the law is not strict enough and that it is not taken seriously, they elaborated on that there should be a gun reform to make sure less guns are accessible to criminals who use them illegally. One participant found that the Aruban population is not responsible enough to be able to own firearms and that they should only be in the hands of law enforcement. The remaining two participants make up the 33.33% of students who approve of the need for permits for someone to be able to own a firearm and that they find the law safe.
For the question of do they feel that there should be a change in gun laws, 83.33% of participants noted yes and 16.70% of participants noted that they do not find there should be a change in gun laws in Aruba. Four participants explained that they have seen drive-by shootings and have seen people illegally purchase a firearm, therefore shaping their opinion that the gun laws and control thereof are not strict enough and should change. 16.70% of participants found that there should not be a change in gun laws in Aruba as they find the laws are strict as they are and that no changes should be made.
Next, participants were asked to explain why they think people would want to own a firearm. 100% of participants mentioned protection as a gun ownership reason. For the question of why they think people would not want to own a firearm, 66.67% of participants assert the danger guns can pose to the safety of their loved ones. 16.70% of participants state that people may be afraid of guns and will not own one. 16.70% of participants argue that they do not know why people would not own a gun.
Lastly, when asked if their opinion on firearms has always been the same and if they would own a gun themselves, participants elaborated on their final thoughts. 50% of participants argued that their opinion on guns has changed due to rising criminal activity in their area of residence and that they are concerned for their safety, the three participants claim that they would own a gun. 33.33% of participants argued that their opinion on guns has not changed and they have always been against guns, the two participants argue that they would not own a gun because they find it is not safe to be in the hands of civilians. 16.70% of participants stated that they are unsure of whether they would want to own a gun or not because it is dangerous, however, they can also protect themselves against danger with a gun.
The results of the survey indicate that University of Aruba students have differing opinions on the topic of whether Aruban civilians should be able to own a firearm or not. The information from the survey correlated with what was previously said in Chapter 1.4 that the top gun ownership reason is for protection. The survey also gave insight into how many people have come into contact with an illegal firearm, with 66.67% of participants having seen a drive-by shooting or having seen the purchase of an illegal firearm in their vicinity. The survey also gave insight into how the control of illegal firearms within Aruba by law enforcement is insufficient. The 33.33% of participants stating that their opinion on firearms has changed due to criminal activity and safety concerns signals that the law is failing them. The fact that they would use a firearm, an item which they find that should be exclusively used in dire situations, signals that need to come a change in the gun law and the control of it by law enforcement or other criminal justice jobs.
To conclude, the participants had an overall opinion that guns are dangerous and mainly mentally healthy people and law enforcement should be granted permits to have ownership of guns. The majority of participants has had negative experiences with guns such as drive-by shootings and believe that the ownership of a gun can be used to protect themselves. Half of the participants would be persuaded to own a gun in order to protect themselves and their loved ones if there is more criminal activity. Participants agree that there is danger in allowing civilians to own guns, however, if it is used to protect themselves against danger it would not be a problem. The participants stated that if larger quantities of people were to want a permit to own a gun, there would have to be stricter permit regulations as people do not follow the current gun law. The opinion of UA students’ on gun ownership is that they are in favor of it as long as the people are responsible and use it to protect themselves.
- Basu, T. (2015) Why the U.S. Has 31% of the World’s Mass Shootings. Retrieved from http://time.com/4007909/gun-violence-mass-shootings/
- BC Campus (2017) Overview of Survey Research. Retrieved from https://opentextbc.ca/researchmethods/chapter/overview-of-survey-research/#return-footnote-127-1
- Landsbesluit Ontplofbare Stoffen. AB 1999 no. GT 11. §§ 1.1 (1999 & Supp. 2002)
- Lopez, G. / Vox (2018, August 29) America is one of 6 countries that make up more than half of gun deaths worldwide. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/2018/8/29/17792776/us-gun-deaths-global
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- Swanson, J. W., & Felthous, A. R. (2015). Guns, Mental Illness, and the Law: Introduction to This Issue. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 33(2/3), 167–177. https://doi.org/10.1002/bsl.2178
- MONTGOMERY, B., FRENCH, K. B., & FRENCH, T. (2018). The Gun Divide. Time International (Atlantic Edition), 192(2), 32–37. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=133085606&site=ehost-live
- Pew Research Center. (2013, March 12) Why Own a Gun? Protection Is Now Top Reason. Retrieved from http://www.people-press.org/2013/03/12/why-own-a-gun-protection-is-now-top-reason/
- Ridgeway, G., Braga, A., Tita, G., & Pierce, G. (2011). Intervening in gun markets: an experiment to assess the impact of targeted gun-law messaging. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 7(1), 103–109. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11292-010-9113-5
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