Global Lessons On Guns
In the United States, there is currently a pressing issue that arises in our everyday lives. The issue at hand is gun violence which has turned our country into constant upheaval especially in the political world. There are daily reports of deadly shootings due to all the hate in the world. This issue is beginning to tear our country apart. The main issue we have seen in recent news is the lack of gun control resulting in many senseless deaths. Nowadays people can’t go to school, the movies, or the grocery store without living in fear of someone shooting them on their outing. Firearms are too easily obtained by people who should not have access to them, such as mentally ill people and children. For example, one of America’s most tragic school shootings happened in Littleton, Colorado at Columbine High School where two teenagers shot and killed 13 people before killing themselves. This could have easily been prevented had the parents of these teens put their guns in a locked safe and engaged with their children. The carelessness of the two teens parents resulted in 13 other families being devasted by the loss of their children. Issues like these are the reason why gun violence is at an all-time high in our country. Gun violence has now become an ethical issue in our country as well as others.
Many people believe we should have stricter gun regulation, even taking guns away all together. While many others think guns are a right, that they should get to keep them and carry them wherever they want. Politics is heavily split on this issue currently as stricter gun laws would result in far less deaths but “the right to bear arms” is written in the second amendment therefore it poses a conflict. The government can’t just take our rights away but they need to do something because the death toll by gun violence is quickly rising. Countries around the world have many ways of dealing with gun violence. Taking a look into Japan, we see some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. Their law states that no citizen shall possess a firearm with a few exceptions, making it nearly impossible for foreigners to obtain one at all. One U. S. Marine had to jump through quite a few hoops to legally own his gun including “over 20 hours of lectures, a written test, a shooting range class and he passed a criminal background check. A doctor gave him a full physical and psychological exam. He also visited the police station more than five times where he was interviewed in an interrogation room. ” (Zakaria) To add to this, he also had to make a detailed history of his family and a detailed map of his house which had to include pictures of the locks on the firearm storage. A process like this can take well over a year and must be regularly renewed. Japan’s intrusive gun regulation process discourages people from trying to obtain a gun but results in a low homicide rate. For the year 2014, the nation with 127 million people only had six murders an all-time low. Another country with lots of guns is Switzerland but without all the gun violence like in America.
In Switzerland, everyone from young to old is trained to shoot and they do so for fun such as in shooting competitions. Guns aren’t seen as a negative thing in Switzerland. Gun laws include passing a background check, registering your gun with the government, and outlawing automatic weapons. This may seem communistic according to the NRA but the truth is many people in Switzerland agree with the laws. Matter of fact most people do not care to have open carry laws like there is in America. Due to the education and comfort with firearms, Switzerland does not have the same gun violence issue as the United States. In 1996, one massacre changed gun regulations forever in Australia. A massacre resulting in 35 people dead shocked the nation, causing Prime Minister John Howard to tighten the gun laws. He dramatically reduced the amount of automatic and semi-automatic weapons in Australia. Howard banned semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, and pump-action shotguns. As well as requiring gun registration and new laws about gun storage. All of which was a very unpopular opinion at the time and opposed by many. Although, Howard followed through with his plan and therefore got dramatic results. Nearly two years after the massacre, the gun reforms had been enacted so the government offered a gun buyback program which destroyed over 600,000 guns in Australia. Due to the new gun laws, Australia saw a serious decrease in gun suicides and homicides immediately afterwards. All it took was one major act of gun violence for their regulations to change.
These three countries set a good example for the United States to curve the gun violence. The United States has gun regulations which are too “loose” and need to be tightened. If our government took a look at these countries regulations and looked at their statistics on death they would see that something needs to change in our country. America doesn’t necessarily have to follow one of these countries’ regulations perfectly but it wouldn’t hurt to take a little from each one. We could see which regulations fit into our society and implement them. For example, Japan’s gun regulations are too intrusive for America but some of the licensing process can be used, like the police interrogations. It may seem harsh but many people tend to crack under pressure which would therefore eliminating some of the mentally unstable people from obtaining guns. Switzerland’s dependency on gun education is another takeaway that America can benefit from. A lot of gun deaths are due to improper gun education so we could help correct that just by teaching Americans how to use guns and how to be safe with them. The first step in doing these things is to get the country a strong leader who will carry out stricter regulations despite the opposition, such as Prime Minister Howard. Not every American needs to be on board to change as long as we have someone to carry out the new laws and regulations. When discussing moral and ethics in the sense of gun violence we must look at three choices: independent, competent, and authentic. These choices all have to be made by an autonomous person, usually not children or mentally-ill patients. An independent choice is a choice made by an autonomous person without constraints or compulsions.
This means the choice would have to be made by a person who is able to make free choices as a self-determining individual. They cannot have any external constraints such as someone controlling them from the outside, like hypnosis or threats. Nor can they have any internal compulsions in which they control themselves from within, such as compulsive behavior or emotional pain. When referring to firearms a person may make an independent choice such as whether they should get an automatic weapon or a shotgun. These are two very important choices to the issue because if they choose to get the bigger, deadlier automatic weapon the situation could end much worse than with a shotgun, should they go on a shooting spree. Another independent choice affecting this issue is where one buys their firearm from. Depending on where the gun is bought, there are different rules and regulations. One gun shop may not follow all the rules and does not educate the buyer whereas the other one does. A small little detail such as “Should I go to Hyatt’s Guns or Bud’s Gun Shop? ” affects the gun violence in our country. If this person has not satisfied the conditions of an independent choice their constraints or compulsions might take over causing the to make an erratic and dangerous choice. Making an independent choice plays a big role in gun violence even though it’s the lowest level of moral agency. When making a competent choice a person must be able to make a choice without constraints or compulsions and engaging in rational deliberation. This means a person must not only satisfy the conditions of an independent choice but they must be capable of contemplating sane choices within themselves. A major competent choice that ties into gun violence is deciding where to store a firearm in your house. A person must not be thinking about fears of break ins and be able to rationally decide what is safest, putting all feelings and fears aside. Should they make the wrong decisions, there could be accidental shooting or impulsive fires shot. If the conditions of a competent choice aren’t met, a person should not be handling a firearm at all. Finally, an authentic choice must be made without constraints or compulsions, rational deliberation, and authentically assessing one’s values. Therefore, a person would have to meet the requirements for competent choices as well as able to choose what they desire most in life.
Such as valuing life over death, or peace over violence. Authentic choices are the highest level of moral agency. Moral agency being exercised by an autonomous person every time they make a moral choice in a situation. An authentic choice affecting gun violence is whether one should shoot or not when someone is burglarizing their house. Even though one must act in a split second they must stop to satisfy all the conditions of an authentic choice in order to be a moral agent. This means assessing whether they value life or death, in both themselves and the other person. If they value life, then that could pursue them not kill the burglar but they still need to protect their life. Therefore, one may choose to shoot the burglar in the leg to protect their life while also protecting the bad guys life by not killing him. When it comes making choices and gun violence, many autonomous people don’t even make it past the first level of moral agency which is making an independent choice. Thus, gun violence is higher than it should be since people don’t fully become a moral agent when dealing with weapons. When making a competent and authentic choice there are some obstacles one may have. First of all, the whole issue of gun violence is often made on quick, unthought out decisions. Most people may not make it to the second and third level of moral agency before pulling the trigger. One of the issues when making these two choices is being freely autonomous. This is when one makes a choice that is unconstrained by all influences possible but this is nearly impossible. Often times in a situation there is an underlying constraint which is pulling you towards one choice over the other, even if you do not realize it.
For example, if someone were making a competent choice on whether they should carry their gun in the holster while they went out or left it at home in the gun safe. Either option is fine with them, they have no constraints or compulsions and deliberated it rationally before deciding to put it in their holster for the night. Now, they didn’t have any overbearing pull towards one but their subconscious leaned towards bringing the gun out due to the recent violence in the world. The person wasn’t making a truly free autonomous choice because of their subconscious being. One way to overcoming this obstacle is to put your inner self aside when making a choice and just think about which choice helps you reach your full potential.
The choice that helps you realize your full potential will often disregard the subconscious pull that you may not realize. Making authentic choices also comes with some roadblocks. When making an authentic choice one must use value-guided autonomy which is about realizing full potential rather than just being free from constraints. Even if you are free from constraints, making you a moral agent, you may not realize which choice is best for you to reach your full potential. This often times gets in the way when making an authentic choice because one may decide based on the sole fact that they are free from constraints. One way of overcoming this obstacle is have the choices one makes, be guided by values. There should be a set of values which are dependable because in certain situations, one doesn’t always know what is best for them. Therefore, there would be a solid set of values to fall back on in order to help make the best, fully authentic choice. When dealing with the issue of gun violence in the United States, there is a lot of red tape to cross. The government cannot make a choice without including the people due to our democratic government. Although, our government shouldn’t be afraid to try because we are seeing the horrific effect of guns in our country. There are several countries which set examples on how to control gun violence. Ethically the government owes us the right to try controlling the violence.
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