The Debate Over Pros And Cons Of Gun Control
Throughout history, the debate over gun control has become a controversial issue in America. Guns and the restrictions that come with them, have been around since the colonial and revolutionary times. Recently, the topic of gun control has become more controversial as there have been 126 mass shootings since the early 2000’s. Some of the well-known shootings happened at Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland Florida and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Individuals that believe more gun control laws should be enacted state that more laws would reduce gun deaths, guns are often used and stolen by criminals, that adults and most gun owners support common gun control, and that more gun control laws are needed to protect women from stalkers and domestic abuse. On the other hand, opponents to more gun control state that the second amendment protects an individual’s gun ownership, ownership deters crime, gun control laws will not prevent criminals from obtaining guns or breaking laws and gun control laws infringe upon the right to self-defense and deny people a sense of safety. The issue between gun rights and the limits that can be made to them, has been a national debate for years. When dealing with gun control, individuals believe there will be a decrease in gun deaths if more laws were enacted. There have been 464,033 total gun deaths over the course of 15 years. Many gun related deaths come from the multiple mass shootings in our country, this has caused many people to believe there should be stricter laws relating to assault rifles. Assault rifles are one of the top choices when committing a mass shooting. The Washington Post states, “…assault rifles were the weapon of choice for the mass shooters at Parkland, Fla., and at Sandy Hook Elementary School”. There has been debate over gun violence legislation in the Senate, but there has not been a meaningful one recently.
According to The Washington Post, “In the years since the Senate last had a meaningful debate about gun-violence legislation, we’ve seen assault rifles and high-capacity magazines repeatedly used in mass shootings, with even-higher body counts”. Gun control activists need the government to see how these types of guns are being used in mass shootings, killing higher amounts of people. In states such as California, New Jersey, and Washington, there is a required universal background check for all sales and transfers of firearms. In these states, there are less deaths than in states that do not have background checks. Also, “implementing federal universal background checks could reduce firearm deaths by a projected 56.9%”. Gun control activists also believe that even if a person owns a gun legally, it could still increase the chance of death. According to the American Journal of Public Health, “a study published that legal purchase of a handgun appears to be associated with a long-lasting increased risk of violent death”. Multiple other studies have also showed the correlation between guns and death, showing how high rates of gun ownership generally have high gun death rates. States such as Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee are where guns are owned the most, they are also known to have the highest rates of death from guns, “One legislative similarity that all these states share is that none of them require license, registration or permit to buy a gun”. Activists show their concern for more laws because they believe, with statistical proof, that gun deaths will be reduced if more registration and laws were enforced. Individuals that want more gun control laws enacted, say that guns are often being stolen and used by criminals and they believe that having more laws will help prevent this from happening. People who agree with this idea state that guns are small enough to be easily taken from someone’s possession without them realizing it. When most guns are taken, it occurs when a person is committing a crime such as burglary, “Between 2005 and 2010, 1.4 million guns were stolen from US homes during property crimes (including burglary and car theft), a yearly average of 232,400”. With the fact that guns can be taken, Stanford Law School states, ‘with guns being a product that can be easily carried away… the presence of more guns can actually serve as a stimulus to burglary and theft”. Within the past few years, carrying guns legally in public places has become easier. In some instances, criminals obtain guns through the “gun show” loophole, which is when people who are not allowed to possess a gun, buy them from private sellers without any federal records. This occurs because background checks are not federally required from every person who transfers or sells a gun and private sellers are not required by law to inspect any buyer’s driver’s license. This leads to the seller not being able to confirm the legal age of a buyer. Many people view this as a leading cause of guns used in crimes.
The Seattle Times states, “The black market of weapons has increased in size as more weapons are reported stolen from lawful owners year after year, leading some law enforcement officers around the country to ask gun owners and gun dealers to better protect themselves and lock their weapons”. Since 2005, there has been a 68 percent increase of stolen weapons reported to the FBI, while nearly two million weapons have been stolen in the last decade. The people who are stealing these guns cannot obtain them legally because of the Gun Control Act of 1968 which did not allow dangerous individuals from owning guns. People who want this problem to be fixed, state, “There ought to be some obligation in the law for gun owners to responsibly secure their firearms…Congress should not only be looking at this issue, they ought to be acting on this issue”. Over the course of a few years, our country has seen the highest numbers of reported guns being stolen. According to The Trace, “We have a society that has become so gun-centric that the guns people buy for themselves get stolen, go into circulation, and make them less safe,” said Sam Dotson, a former St. Louis police chief”. Activists believe there needs to be better laws to prevent this. Adults and most gun owners support common sense gun control. One of the most well-known ways is implementing background checks. Many people have told their own horrific stories of relatives passing away due to gun violence and the most common thing they state is that there should be more background checks. Marc Orfanos shared his story; his son was killed in a mass shooting and he has been trying to raise awareness ever since. The Washington Post acknowledges, “We know the legislative changes needed to address this epidemic; what we must find now is the political will to make them happen”. Orfanos made this statement that he and his followers believe in. There are many activists that are trying to inform others on the importance of background checks and according to Opensecrets, “84% of americans support expanding background checks to include private firearm sales and purchases at gun shows, including a majority of Republican respondents”. This is the most recent percent made in the beginning of 2018. Unfortunately, people with bad intentions can purchase guns online. Giffords law center states, “When unlicensed sellers don’t run background checks, people looking to commit violence can easily obtain guns, often with deadly consequences”. For example, a gunman killed his ex-girlfriend and four other people. Although he was not allowed to buy firearms due to multiple felony convictions, he was able to buy a gun from a seller on Facebook, who was not required to run a background check under West Virginia law. Due to these loopholes, law enforcement groups want expanded background check laws, since individuals who should not be allowed to obtain guns are easily getting them through unlicensed sellers which can end up being used in crimes. Even unexpected people support background checks, according to Giffords, “Strong support for background check laws has also been measured among NRA members, with at least 74% supporting comprehensive background checks”. In 1994, there was an Assault Weapons Ban that lasted ten years, according to The Washington Post, “it was illegal to manufacture the assault weapons for use by private citizens.
The law also set a limit on high-capacity magazines — these could now carry no more than 10 bullets” (Plumer). Except there was an exception, any assault weapon manufactured before the law, was legal to own or resell. After the ban expired, there was an attempt to pass it again, but there was no interest in Congress. This is what activists now are trying to change, they want the government to start taking control on this situation. Individuals believe more gun control laws are needed to protect women from stalkers and domestic abusers. Congress has recognized the dangers posed by domestic abusers with guns, but women along with others feel it is not enough. The law has many weaknesses, according to American Progress, “Background checks are not required on all gun sales, so domestic abusers prohibited from gun ownership can easily circumvent the gun-ownership ban by buying a gun from a private seller… no federal ban on gun ownership for stalkers convicted of misdemeanor crimes and who are subject to restraining orders”. Women believe there should be some type of restriction on anyone who has previously been in trouble with the law. Also, most women who have been or are being stalked will file a restraining order to feel safer. Gun control activists want to prevent these abusers from being able to obtain a gun, since women are eleven times more likely to be murdered with guns in the United States than in other countries. According to Everytown, “America’s weak gun laws fail countless American women each year… the laws are poorly defined and poorly enforced, and the results are as predictable as they are devastating”. There are countless stories told by women who have dealt with an ex-boyfriend or an ex-husband stalking them after they have split and in each, they talk about how they were scared for their lives. In some states there are laws stating that when a restraining order is filed against someone, the police can confiscate that person’s guns. However, after the fact, one can buy new ones. This leads individuals to believe that the law is doing nothing to help since guns can still legally be obtained. Opponents to more gun control state that the second amendment protects individual gun ownership. When the founders of our country created the Bill of Rights, they included the second amendment which is, a well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. Proponents to the right to bear arms say, “The Founders understood that the right to own and bear laws is as fundamental and as essential to maintaining liberty as are the rights of free speech, a free press, freedom of religion and the other protections against government encroachments on liberty delineated in the Bill of Rights”. Individuals that oppose gun control state that it would go against the right to bear arms which has been with our country since the beginning. There have been multiple court cases having to do with the second amendment and if there could be actions to go against it. One of the more popular cases was the Heller vs. District of Columbia court case. The case would, “state for the first time that the Second Amendment protects a responsible, law-abiding citizen’s right to possess an operable handgun in the home” . Previously, the second amendment did not state anything about being allowed to have guns at home for self-defense, and from this decision, the handgun ban and firearm storage law was undone. There was another court case, Nunn vs Georgia, a man was carrying a gun that was supposedly violating the law. He argued that the law was violating his second amendment right. The court ruled, “that while the legislature could prohibit the concealed carry of weapons, it could not prohibit the open carry of weapons…To do so would be a violation of the Second Amendment right to carry weapons for self-defense’. Laws and cases against the second amendment have been made many times, but the Supreme Court believes in the second amendment’s protection of an individual’s gun ownership right.
Many believe that gun ownership deters crime. In multiple events, law abiding citizens have used their firearms to prevent mass shootings. In places where citizens can legally carry guns, “two potential mass shootings were averted by law-abiding citizens who used their concealed firearms”. Usually mass shootings happen at unexpected times, and it will take the police some time to get there. That is why many police officers believe that when citizens are legally armed, it would help reduce the amount of mass shootings. There have also been studies conducted showing the effect of control gun, such as weapon bans, and how they correlate with murder. In a 2013 study, “between 1980 and 2009, assault weapons bans did not significantly affect murder rates at the state level and states with restrictions on the carrying of concealed weapons had higher gun-related murders”. The study identifies that throughout 29 years, carrying a concealed weapon is believed to reduce the number of murders. Other researchers believe that gun crime and gun ownership have no correlation. In another case, a man named David Freddoso compared crime data and gun ownership rates, he found that, “there is no statistically significant correlation between a state’s gun homicide rate and gun ownership rate”. Authors such as John R. Lott, believe that “shall-issue” laws are important. The shall-issue law is when one requires a license to carry a concealed handgun. In his book More Guns, Less Crime, he talks about how large drops in violent crimes is correlated to the increase of gun ownership and that the shall-issue law also ties in. In More Guns, Less Crimes, “When states passed these laws, the number of multiple-victim shootings declined by 84 percent”. That is why many believe gun ownership deters crime. Opponents to gun control laws believe that they will not prevent criminals from obtaining guns or breaking laws. There are many gun free zones in the country, a gun free zone is an area where the possession and use of guns is a crime. Last year there was a mass shooting in California in a gun free zone. According to USA Today, “Gun-free zones are magnets for killers. Consider that almost 98 percent of public mass shootings in this country occur in these mandatory victim zones” (Pratt). People believe that shooters target these zones because the citizens in them aren’t armed. California has strict gun control laws such as bans on assault weapons and background checks. Individuals who believe that criminals will still break laws argue the fact that the shooter was still able to commit his crime. A group of people known as “Prohibited Persons” are not allowed to have any type of firearm or ammunition. During many shootings, the murderer was classified as being in this group. Researchers that have been studying the correlation between laws and criminals believe, “There criminals were not stopped by law. This is, of course, partly to do with a failure of our enforcement of current laws but also because criminals, by definition, don’t obey laws”. There have been studies dedicated to finding out if gun control laws work against criminals, one of which states, “Criminals do not engage in activities that would make them subject to any sort of a ‘universal’ background check requirement or any of the other common proposals put forth by the anti-gun crowd”.
The researcher is saying that criminals obtain guns in an illegal way to avoid going through background checks. Those who believe that gun control such as background checks will prevent criminals have found evidence such as, “expanding background checks would have no impact on the criminal acquisition of guns. Since these criminals do not use gun stores, gun shows, or even legal private gun sellers, there is no point in the criminal supply chain where a background check would make any difference whatsoever”. Criminals obtain their guns through ways that they will not get caught, that is why they are not bought legally. Some believe gun control laws infringe upon the right to self-defense and deny people a sense of safety. The NRA has stated that 2.5 million times a year guns are used for self-defense. According to Nelson Lund, JD, “The right to self-defense and to the means of defending oneself is a basic natural right…and many [gun control laws] interfere with the ability of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves against violent criminals”. As previously mentioned, in gun free zones, citizens will not have guns on them as it is considered a crime. Individuals believe that this is restricting their ability to defend themselves since researchers have stated many shootings occur in these zones. There have also been multiple surveys about felons, gun owners, and victims, one of which stating, “48% of convicted felons surveyed admitted that they avoided committing crimes when they knew the victim was armed with a gun and 79% of male gun owners and 80% of female gun owners said owning a gun made them feel safer”. With the high percentage of people who believe having a gun makes them feel safer, they believe in prioritizing gun rights not new gun laws. Sometimes individuals could find themselves in a life or death situation and not have time to call police. Many believe in having a strong self-defense because the police cannot protect every person all the time. Another concern the public has about stricter gun laws, is that it is harder to protect family. According to a public survey, “stricter gun laws would make it more difficult for people to protect their homes and families by 58% to 39%… majorities of both men (61%) and women (56%) say stricter gun laws would make it more difficult for people to protect their homes and families”. Since many believe gun control is trying to make it harder to obtain guns, multiple studies show that citizens lack a sense of safety. The studies try to get their message across, which is, if an individual is weaponless in their house and a criminal breaks inside, they will less safe than if they had a weapon to defend themselves with. Gun control is a very controversial topic with many reasons supporting both the proponent’s side and the opponent’s side. Within our country, gun limits and rights will be a main point to discuss as it has been a national debate for a very long time. If more mass shootings occur in the future, gun control advocates will fight even harder to have better background check and weapon bans placed. In the future, this topic will continue to become more prevalent since in these past few years more people have spoken their opinion on it. After going through the research on this topic, citizens should have their second amendment right to bear arms, but there should be more of an effort to have better background checks. These will help prevent future mass shootings and other types of crimes in our nation.
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