This list serves as a rebuttal of the Listverse list “10 Arguments for Gun Control” by Morris M. This list is not intended to incite controversy, but to foster an even-sided debate. The issue of gun control is global, but since it is most controversial in the United States of America, that nation is referred to most in the following entries.
The US Constitution’s Second Amendment reads: “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.”
10 There Is Murder In The UK
Almost all handguns are banned from civilian possession, ownership, purchase, or sale in the United Kingdom as a result of the Second Firearms Act of 1997. This was in response to the Dunblane Massacre, in which 43-year-old Thomas Hamilton walked into an elementary school and shot dead 16 children, aged six or younger, and one teacher before killing himself. He used four handguns.
Now that modern handguns are no longer legal to have in the UK, let us take a look at some murder rates. The rate for intentional homicide in the UK in 1996—the year of the Dunblane Massacre—was 1.12 per 100,000. It was 1.24 in 1997, when the Firearms Act went into effect, and 1.43 in 1998. The rate rose to a peak of 2.1 in 2002 and has fallen since to 1.23 as of 2010. These numbers have, however, been called into question due to possible under-reporting of violent crimes in the UK.
It cannot be denied that the rate of homicides via guns has fallen dramatically since Dunblane, but the rate of murders has gone up. To say these higher numbers are the result of fewer people able to arm themselves for defense is drastically jumping to a conclusion, but the fact does remain that more people are killing each other in the UK today than when guns were legal to have. Even the police are almost all armed with tasers instead, so handguns are very hard to come by. All the numbers are higher in the US, of course, where there are more people, and there have been no more school shootings in the UK since Dunblane.
But in 2005, there were 765 intentional murders in the UK and most of these were committed with knives. Blunt objects follow, then strangulation, fire, and poison. Banning guns has halted rampage shootings, but it does not address the issue of people killing each other. In the US, the number of intentional homicides in 2004 was 10,654—a number that would have been much lower without access to guns, but still terribly high. Opponents of gun control are always quick to question how many victims of knives, clubs, and strangulation would be alive if they had had a gun.
9 Literary Infallibility
Thomas Jefferson once wrote “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” Gun enthusiasts often couple this with a quote from Ben Franklin, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”
Unfortunately, Franklin never said that. It was probably written by someone on the Internet, who then tacked his name onto it. But Jefferson’s premise of not limiting the freedom of the press can extend to any freedom. Right now, American legislators are up in arms, if you’ll pardon the pun, over the question of whether to limit some firearms’ ammunition capacities. Proponents cite the only obvious use for an assault rifle—killing people—and defend ammunition limitations as a compromise that will save lives. Opponents maintain that a single life lost due to some maniac with a gun is just as excessive as 30.
The issue of fully automatic firearms has been a hotbed for a long time. In some states, they are legal for civilians, provided that an extra fee is paid. In North Carolina, a fully automatic M2HB .50 Browning heavy machine gun is perfectly legal to use as a home defense weapon or for hunting. This is because that state considers any limitation of guns to be unconstitutional. California does not agree. In that state, no semiautomatic firearm may contain more than 10 rounds at any time. Assault rifles are completely banned. There are some federal limits: no caliber is permissible larger than .50 unless a special and expensive license is obtained and cannons are legal to own but not to fire with real ammunition.
The debates will go on for a very long time, and most of them center on the Constitution’s wording of the Second Amendment. How should we define “a well-regulated militia”? Proponents of gun control claim this should entail proper training. Opponents claim that almost all gun owners train themselves in their free time. They further claim that, should any affront be made to the Second Amendment, those who want to control guns will no longer have any line to cross. They will interpret as they see fit any word or phrase of any Amendment in order to limit more and more rights until, in this case, all guns are banned from civilian use.
8 The Civilian Need For Assault Rifles
An assault rifle is any weapon which fires high-powered rifle rounds rather than pistol rounds, semi or fully automatically. The weapon reloads each round on its own—all you have to do is pull the trigger again and again. It is true that these weapons were invented for the purpose of warfare, not hunting, though they can be used for either. Proponents of even limited gun control maintain that, if nothing else is done, assault rifles should have magazines of no more than 10 rounds at a time. The argument typically brought out in defense of this position claims that in any self-defense scenario, assault rifles are overkill.
Gun control opponents, however, have long argued that the Second Amendment was put in place not just for ordinary home defense against burglars but specifically to guarantee that the nation could never be overcome by any military power foreign or domestic. If the five branches of the US military were beaten by, say, a nuclear holocaust, the only national defense left would be the civilians themselves. Any subsequent military invasion—probably armed with AK-47 variants—would find it very easy to overrun civilians armed only with lever, bolt, and pump action weapons.
7 Welcome To Texas
The first modern school shooting occurred on August 1, 1966 and deservedly made national headlines because no one had ever heard of such diabolical insanity. If you have a problem with your boss, you might get mad and shoot him, but sniping innocent random strangers from up to 400 yards for 90 minutes somehow makes even less sense. Whitman’s tower rampage on the University of Austin was not the first school shooting in the sense of a single maniac killing indiscriminately, but it was possibly the first to push the notion into the public eye. It was a direct cause of the institution of SWAT teams among city police forces around the nation. There were none before this incident, and the Austin police found themselves woefully outgunned at the outset.
They were considerably aided, in Ramiro Martinez’s opinion, by several dozen students and passersby who did not take cover, but instead ran to their vehicles and brought back hunting rifles. They then took cover alongside police officers and opened fire on the observation deck, forcing Whitman to take cover and fire less often and less accurately. Martinez was one of the three officers who entered the tower and killed Whitman, and he thanked the civilians for their assistance. Whitman would certainly have killed many more than 12 from the 28th story observation deck had he not been harried by the civilians’ return fire.
6 It Didn’t Work For Germany
On March 10, 2009, 28-year-old Michael McClendon shot 10 people dead in a spree that covered three counties of Alabama. Gun control was immediately revived in national debates, primarily because he used two assault rifles for most of the rampage. He also had a shotgun and a pistol. McClendon had left a suicide note in which he made it clear that he despondent and enraged over his dead-end life. He began the spree by shooting his own mother, all three of her dogs, and burning down her house. He then drove down the highway shooting random people from his vehicle.
The gun control debate did not reach fever pitch, however, until a German high school student initiated a very similar rampage the next day in Winnenden, Baden-Wurttemberg, in southwestern Germany. Seventeen-year-old Timothy Kretschmer began at Albertville-Realschule, where he murdered 12 people, most of them women, then carjacked Igor Wolf and forced him to drive Kretschmer to the town of Wendlingen. While in the backseat, Kretschmer reloaded his magazines and answered Wolf’s question of why he had done it. “For fun. Because it’s fun.” He ordered Wolf off the road near a car dealership and ran inside, murdered two more people, and then shot it out with the police, wounding two and being wounded in both legs. He opened fire on every random person he could see, then shot himself.
He killed 15 and wounded nine, all with a single 9mm pistol. This was his father’s gun, since he was too young to own one, and it was the only gun his father had not locked in a safe. He had illegally kept it out and loaded in case of burglary. This is not illegal in the US. Here, we see that a child, who should not have been able to acquire a gun, did so in a nation with extremely strict laws on gun control.
5 Gun Control Equals Absolute Despotism
Of all arguments against controlling guns, this one crystallizes everything the ravenous pro-gun crowd has had to say over the years. Most Americans do not trust their government, or more properly, the people who hold the highest positions in it. This was the feeling long before Edward Snowden leaked proof of the government spying illegally on its own citizens and nations around the world. Snowden deemed this too similar to “Big Brother,” as Orwell calls it, but the US government not only disagreed with him, it even defended what it was doing as not in any way criminal, though its own law books clearly differ. Snowden is not without supporters. Twitter has erected security firewalls to guard against NSA spying, and Google, Facebook, and Tumblr have followed suit.
Pro-gun citizens consider their guns the same protection. They arm themselves for the possibility of government agents taking away their rights one by one until they live in a police state in which the government is able to do anything it wants because the civilian populace is unarmed and cannot resist. In these terms, any gun control is viewed as a threat to liberty, and though the Constitution guarantees rights, it does not enforce anything. Guns do.
The Snowden fiasco in particular brought the rampant and frighteningly amoral dishonesty of the federal government back once again to the front of global debate, since America had been spying on China, France, Germany, and even Great Britain against their wishes. The pro-gun American citizens have seized on this embarrassment as yet more proof that the government is out to take away its citizens’ rights, as many as possible until democracy is gone and tyranny is in place. Tthe only truly effective protection of American citizens’ rights to freedom of speech, press, religion, and others are their guns.
4 Rampage Shooters Like Soft Targets
If rampage killers are so depressed that they intend to kill themselves afterward, then why hasn’t anyone whipped out an assault rifle and attempted to kill people inside the US Bullion Depository near Fort Knox? Because breaking into the White House would be a lot easier. Do these shooters fear the firepower lurking around the gold? Not if they want to die, but what they do fear is not killing a lot of people beforehand. They have a rage in them, and it appears to be always the same. Motive or not, they want to exact revenge. The more dead, the merrier. The media, of course, is largely to blame for turning any shooting incident into a circus. Presently, a lovers’ spat that boils over in public will make brief national headlines as a possible rampage scene.
The James Holmeses, the Cho Seung-huis, and Adam Lanzas are the sort who want to one-up the last massacre, and this can’t be done in a bank. The police are on the lookout for the banks and there aren’t enough people anyway. It can’t be done at the White House or a police station, but malls, schools, ordinary workplaces, and churches are all soft and rich targets because they contain many people and few of them are armed.
Suppose there were a guarantee that everyone in a church on Sunday morning were armed to the teeth—pistols, shotguns, and assault rifles, and more importantly, that they were all trained to fight back. Even the most desperately depressed rage-a-holic would pick a different target. The Amarillo school district in the good ol’ state of Texas has gone to the extreme of arming its entire faculty and staff as a warning to would-be maniacs. This means the teachers, janitors, groundskeepers, and secretaries all have guns on their person.
3 The Eighteenth Amendment
This amendment prohibited the production, transport, and sale of alcohol within the United States of America. It was a result of the Temperance Movement. Most of the politicians in Washington, DC strongly supported the imposition of the ban, but when it went into effect on January 17, 1920, the public responded in a way that neither the temperance movement nor the politicians had expected—few people heeded the criminalization, and those who had been manufacturing alcohol continued doing so regardless of the law. Everyone seemed haughtily recalcitrant and alcohol use flourished even more than before. The police around the country were woefully ineffective in curbing its production, sale, or consumption.
Career criminals like Al Capone became extremely rich by gaining control over the importation to entire cities. Those too afraid of the police resorted to making their own booze at home, and this resulted in many deaths from poisoning.
Replace every reference to alcohol above with a reference to guns and you have the most assured aftermath of a similar prohibition on guns—except in this scenario, the crimes involved are much deadlier. The Al Capones who rise up will attempt to gain control over a city’s illegal importation of guns, and there will be street violence worse than that of the most dangerous areas of Chicago today.
The public outcry leading up to the national ban might not cause a nationwide uprising. Such a disaster can only be conjectured as alternate history fiction, but if the government enforced the ban by raiding homes and businesses, there would certainly be small-scale uprisings that easily spread. Martial law would have to be imposed in some large cities, especially in Texas. Texas might actually make good on its common threat to secede, since it does retain a provision in its state constitution which permits this. There would be civil war, but with much deadlier weapons. The war would probably not be fought in as open a form as the previous Civil War, but those who refuse to relinquish their firearms would engage in guerrilla warfare and splinter cell terrorism. None of this is to say that the US military, if loyal to the ban, could not put down such rebellion to it, but the consequences would be horrific and long-lasting.
2 Laws Do Not Apply To Criminals
We’ve all heard this one many times, but a point of contention that just won’t go away must be quite convincing to some. Gun laws are all founded on the principle of making a nation safer by limiting its civilian population’s access to guns, but laws against murder and violence do not apply to those who have given up on life and intend to die while killing as many people as they can. Laws against theft do not apply to a person who intends to steal something. The sole thing the criminally-minded care about is not getting caught. Some are reformed in prison, but in large part, those who want to break a law are not going to feel remorse when they are caught. Give them a chance and they will do it again.
From this perspective, it is difficult to fathom the logic of enacting newer, stricter gun laws on an already lawful society. Most of us obey such laws. Sale of guns is forbidden within the city limits of Chicago, an ordinance that went into effect in 2010. For the year 2013, the city’s murder count is 374. There were 432 in 2010 and 500 in 2012. The FBI has named Chicago the nation’s murder capital. Thus, the city ordinance did nothing to reduce its murder rate.
None of this is to imply that in areas of well-armed civilians, the violent crime rate must go down. That is not true. The highest crime rates in 2012 were in the South, where gun ownership is at its highest. But this fact as well corroborates that any imposition of gun control does not address the issue of gun-related crime.
1 Maybe In A Perfect World . . .
Let us disentangle ourselves from the trees and take a look at the forest. Because there is no national gun registry, the exact number of guns in civilian hands in the US cannot be determined, but a conservative estimate places it—as of 2010, when the gun-buying craze was just reaching its peak—at 270 million weapons. This was about 89 guns per 100 people, the most heavily armed civilian population in the world. Yemen was second with 55 per 100, and Switzerland third. As of 2013, Serbia is second.
Another estimate, conducted by Congressional Research in 2012, places the total number of weapons in US civilian hands at 310 million as of 2009. By today, that means almost 1 gun for every single citizen, including infants. What would gun control even mean at this point? Assume this federal law: from 2014 on, no more assault rifles. Those who already own one may keep theirs, but such weapons will disappear from gun stores and pawn shops. Have we controlled much of anything? There are still at least 3 million assault rifles out there.
In a perfect world, gun control would mean going house to house throughout the nation and taking away every single firearm, including muzzle loaders. That would be impossible. Regardless of its constitutionality, gun owners would either fight back until there were a nationwide civil war or simply hide their weapons and claim they have none. Since most of those in the US are unregistered, no one knows who has what. Owners could always claim they destroyed those that are registered.
Thus, to debate gun control is a futile exercise. They cannot be controlled—not anymore. The continuation of buying and selling them cannot make the situation any worse because criminals will never again have to go far to find one.
FlameHorse is a writer for Listverse.
Argument Against Gun Control Essay
The United States Constitution was constructed from a set of rules, also known as amendments, which were written with the great intention of securing the basic rights of all United States citizens and as such, it serves as an outline for the laws of the land by dictating the powers of the people and what is acceptable under the watch of the United States government. These rights are considered a privilege afforded to the people and should be exercised as indicated within the document.
The history behind the induction of the second amendment began in the nineteenth century when in the summer of 1787, the Framers (included US Presidents) conspired with one another to write the articles of the United States Constitution during the constitutional convention. Fifty-five men drafted this document which serves as the blueprint of the United States government today. The motivation to construct and devise such a plan was created in order to give American citizens the absolute rights to proper enjoyment over their own lives. This point is further illustrated in an article written by Max Farrand entitled “The Framing of the Constitution of the United States”. In it, Farrand starts off his book by stating “Thirteen British colonies had asserted and established their independence because they declared the form of government under which they had been living was destructive of their “unalienable rights” of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” (Farrand, 1913, p. 1) Therefore, the notion of freedom as a nation is detailed within an absolute vital document written over 200 years ago and which is very much closely followed today.
One right in particular is the right to own and operate a firearm. For instance, the second amendment gives us the right to bear arms and states verbatim, “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.” (U.S. Constitution) Due to the terms agreed upon by our forefathers, we have the right to protect ourselves and our families by use of a firearm against threat which can endanger a life. Firearms are responsible for more than 31,000 deaths and an estimated 74,000 nonfatal injuries among US residents each year, most of which are violence related. (Siegel, Ross & King, 2013, p. 1)
Over the past several decades, there has been much debate over whether the use of firearms have been within the standards of the written law due to countless tragedies which have been tied to the use of handguns. Many believe that these occurrences could have been prevented if the United States government had revisited and imposed additional restrictions on the nations gun bearing population by way of recommending effective ways to combat gun use and introduce innovative approaches towards the severity of gun activity.
With that being said, it remains transparent that gun control is an issue which has had a vast negative effect on our society as a whole and as a result, an evaluation of the second amendment should be conducted and the meaning for the right of the people to keep and bear arms must be reassessed to benefit all.
Legislation and the United States Supreme court system have been in debate for quite some time over the issue of gun control. There have been various loopholes and laws being challenged by groups which are both against and for the use of firearms. Whether the second amendment has been taken out of context is a topic of discussion with has had little resolution. By far, the hope will always be to find common ground in this meeting of the minds so that as a nation, we no longer have to live through the battles of gun violence and hear about the effect it has on innocent bystanders. “Ordinary forms of gun control such as licensing laws, bans on concealed carry, and prohibitions on particular types of weapons are, by contrast, attempts to regulate the right rather than eliminate it and are routinely upheld. So long as a gun control measure is not a total ban on the right to bear arms, the courts will consider it a mere regulation of the night.” (Winkler, 2007, p. 717)
Consequently, the government must take greater responsibility to control who is given access to firearms due to public safety measures, prevention of violent crimes and misuse.
Before delving into these touchy subjects, there are six ethical points to touch upon with relation to gun control which is of importance since the debate is on each end of the issue. It is fair to accept that there will always be opposing sides with respect to gun control and groups who will depict the pros and cons of the second amendment, therefore, it is important to know the difference between all parties involved. However, it is equally important that privileges are not being abused or mismanaged rather used for the greater good.
First and foremost, libertarianism and fundamental rights are two sets of individual groups who are all for the use of firearms. These groups believe in the second amendment and the ability to protect oneself as well as the rights of loved ones against imposed threat. To further illustrate, the attitude of someone who is pro-gun is detailed in the article, “An ethical analysis of the 2nd amendment: The right to pack heat at work”, as it states “the contention is that criminals will more carefully think about committing crimes if they know that potential victims might be armed.” (Martin, 2014, p. 10) In addition, these groups concern themselves with protecting their assets and strongly believe that state law and the second amendment defend their right to do so. With that being said, there is statistical evidence which supports the idea that firearms are in the best interest of the people and that a trend in possession of firearms is equal to less crime. In Kates and Moody, “Testing the more guns equals more murder thesis”, “The homicide rate for 2010 was roughly 32% lower than the rate in 1946. And year by year in the 2000’s, American murder rates remained nearly the same or dropped—notwithstanding that each of these years saw the addition of four to five million new guns to the total gunstock.” (Kates & Moody, 2011, p. 1446)
Gun Control Research Paper
The creation of the Bill of Rights in 1791 sparked the beginning of the gun control debate. There are essentially two sides of history centered around this debate; one side argues for gun rights and the other side argues for gun control. “Gun rights” refers to the right to keep and bear arms, whereas “gun control” refers to the policies and laws that are enacted to regulate the manufacture, sale, possession, and use of firearms. America owns more guns than any other nation, therefore it is not surprising that America has the highest death rate due to gun violence in the world (Horsley, "Guns In America, By The Numbers."). This alarming fact supports the idea that stricter laws need to be enacted in the United States. This ongoing conflict is deeply rooted in American history, and endless speculation has proved this conflict to be of interest for all U.S. citizens.. However, the turmoil created by both views is unlikely to cease in the near future.
The danger that comes with guns demonstrates that stricter gun laws need to be enacted in the United States. This paper will explore the alternative interpretations of the Second Amendment and its role in American history. Next, the reality of homicide as it relates to gun control will be considered. Finally, the positive and negative effects of gun-control policies will be scrutinized. The recent shootings at Newtown, CT and Orlando, FL have indicated the urgent need for stricter regulation that will make it more difficult for citizens to possess a firearm.
In December of 1971, the Bill of Rights in the Constitution announced the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment states, “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.” The aspect of this amendment that needs to be emphasized is ‘well regulated.’ These two words give modern day politics a context for which it was written. It is important to realize that different time periods mean different political atmospheres. In the eighteenth century, the Founding Father’s fear was a large federal government. The idea of a union of sovereign states was new and potentially dangerous. Though the fear of state militias was relevant in the eighteenth century, this fear is unnecessary today. The mention of a militia suggests a military force from a civil population. This clarifies that the Second Amendment is predicated on groups, not individuals. The reason this amendment centers on groups is because at this point in history, the threat of a standing army was extremely prevalent. The notion of a militia points to a citizen’s army of self-defense that was under governmental authority. Shay’s Rebellion exemplifies what a militia was intended to be used for. Shay’s Rebellion was a 1786-1787 uprising in Western Massachusetts that occurred prior to the construction of the Constitution. This rebellion, however, would not have enjoyed constitutional protection. The Framers would have most likely viewed this as an armed mob, which as mentioned before, is decided to be very different than a well regulated militia, which would be under constitutional protection. This rebellion also demonstrated the danger guns and armed groups acting without governmental authority could pose. Therefore, the Framers decided it was necessary to differentiate between an armed mob and a militia. In the Founder’s view, if you do not have regulation, you have anarchy. Only second to tyranny, anarchy was the reality they feared most. The contemporary understanding has become radically different. Allowing this prevalence of weapons and guns to go unregulated has lead to a gun violence epidemic that has spread from cities such as Boston, MA; New York, NY; and Orlando, FL. Overall, every right is apt to reasonable regulation, including gun rights. (Cornell, “The Second Amendment Permits Reasonable Regulations on Gun Ownership.”)
The Second Amendment is a strong justification for gun control advocates. However, the opposing argument of gun rights has also used the Second Amendment as a reason for unregulated gun ownership. Gun rights proponents view gun control policies as an attack on the Second Amendment.
Supreme Court decisions such as the case of Printz vs U.S. support the view that citizens have a fundamental right to own firearms for the purpose of self defense against violence or tyranny. This court decision centered around the Brady Handgun Prevention Act, or the Brady Bill. The Brady Bill was passed in 1993 and required local chief law enforcement officers to perform background checks. These background checks were to be performed in prospective handgun purchasers, until the Attorney General establishes a federal system for this purpose. County Sheriff Printz challenged whether this bill was constitutional on behalf of the local chief law enforcement officers in Montana and Arizona. Using the Necessary and Proper Clause of Article 1 of the Constitution, Congress tried to enact this form of regulation. The District Court found this bill to be unconstitutional, therefore strengthening the gun rights argument. The Court argued that state legislatures are not subject to federal direction, capitalizing on the fact that the Brady Bill could not require local chief law enforcement officers to perform these tasks. Background checks typically involve a look into a person’s employment, credit, and criminal history for security reasons. Therefore, state legislatures did not have to enforce these checks and citizens could own firearms as a right. (“Printz v. United States.”)
According to Scott Vogel, author of A Well-Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control of America, modern gun rights ideology seems to be rooted in two main arguments. The first is that gun ownership is a God-given right. Gun rights activists believe that owning a firearm is a right that each individual can exercise, according to his or her own conscience. This enforces the statement that people are the problems, not guns. Again, no regulation exemplifies anarchy, or “a state of disorder due to absence or nonrecognition of authority.” The second most common justification of gun rights is self defense. This can be traced back to slavery in American history. In the early stages of our country, judges in the South thought that every white man should have a gun because they were in constant fear of a slave insurrection. (Cornell, “The Second Amendment Permits Reasonable Regulations on Gun Ownership.”)
While the Second Amendment can help determine the prevalence of guns in our society, the actual results of the United State’s lack of regulation can be seen in all corners of our country. From horrifying mass shootings to suicide, guns only encourage homicidal behavior and violence. Therefore, we must now explore the arguments centered around gun violence.
According to the Centers for Disease Control in 2011, approximately 30,000 people die each year through homicides, suicides, and accidents in the United States at the hand of a gun. Moreover, almost a third of gun deaths are the result of suicide. (Lanza et al., “The Effect of Firearm Restrictions on gun-related homicides across US States.”) As previously stated, advocates for gun rights argue that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. However, this has been refuted. On December 14th, 2012, hours before the shooting at Newtown, Connecticut, a deranged Chinese man walked into an elementary school and indiscriminately attacked everyone around him, hitting 22 children using a knife. The use of a knife is significant because if a gun would have been used, the children in the school could have been killed and not just injured. Effective gun control laws in China prevented this man from obtaining a gun. Undoubtedly, a gun would have inflicted much more damage. Ultimately, this event demonstrates that guns can make killings easier. Sociologist Ding Xueliang told CNN, “The huge difference between this case and the U.S. is not the suspect, nor the situation, but the simple fact he did not have an effective weapon.” The United States has the highest rate of gun ownership, with 88.8 guns per 100 people. Therefore is it unsurprising that in 2011, handguns killed 10,728 people in the U.S., compared to 52 people in Canada, 48 in Japan, 34 in Switzerland, and 8 in Great Britain. The U.S. has been noted to be one of the most lax countries in the industrialized world when it comes to gun control. (Griesmann, “Guns Do Kill People.”)
The year of 1968 was also an important year for gun control. The Gun Control Act was fueled by the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy. The Gun Control Act meant stricter regulations; license requirements were expanded to include all dealers and a more detailed record keeping was expected of them. This act essentially defined those who were banned from possessing firearms. Handgun sales were restricted over state lines; the list of people who could not buy guns included those convicted of felonies(with exceptions), those found mentally ill, drug users, and more. Rifles and shotgun sales through the mail were also forbidden. The lack of security of mail order sales prior to this act is surprising. Previous to when this act was passed, consumers only had to sign a statement that they were over twenty-one years of age for a handgun. This act clearly supports the gun control movement by adding necessary restrictions on the sale of handguns and rifles. (Gettings, “Milestones in Federal Gun Control Legislation.”)
A key mass shooting that upholds the need for stricter gun laws to be enacted in the U.S. is the Orlando nightclub shooting in June of 2016. Fifty people were murdered and dozens more were left wounded. This traumatic event has been by far the deadliest in the past thirty-four years. As America grapples with this reality, we again ask ourselves what can be done to prevent these events. It goes without saying, but the Harvard Injury Control Research Center has confirmed the direct correlation between the number of guns and homicides. While the relationship between the number of guns and homicide is undeniable, gun rights supporters point out that correlation does not equal causation. For example, the reason for fewer homicides in certain states could be linked to the number of guns present in that state. The number of guns present in that state could be linked to the amount of people advocating for gun rights, which could be linked to the number of gun owners in that state. Therefore, the gun rights advocates argue that the relationship between gun control and violent crime is not as simple as gun control supporters say it is. (Ehrenfreund, “Orlando Shooting.”)
The National Rifle Association is of course a major gun rights group. The NRA’s president Wayne LaPierre insisted, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” This statement reinforces the justification of self-defense for ownership. Ultimately, the NRA argues that guns cannot be blamed for the final decision. The rights of one individual should not be hindered by another’s intent to cause harm on him/herself. (Lanza et al., “The Effect of Firearm Restrictions on Gun-related Homicides across U.S. States.”)
Finally, we must take a look at the past and present gun regulation policies in the United States. It is important to note that the goal of the following policies is not to impose on certain rights, but to simply reduce gun violence. The three most critical gun control policies put forth are universal background checks, a ban on high-capacity magazines, and a ban on certain assault weapons.
Background checks, like all other gun control policies, have always been controversial. A background check includes looking up criminal, commercial, and financial records of a person or organization. Gun control advocates argue on behalf of safety. Background checks do not only include the history of a buyer, but also at a person’s mental health. About 80% of the general public blames the mental illness of the shooter. This demonstrates the importance of background checks; if a mentally unstable person possesses a gun, the likelihood of a mass shooting only grows. This consensus has led to demands for tighter restrictions on the mentally ill for purchasing a firearm. Another case in which background checks are necessary is a person’s substance abuse record. Alcohol and drug abuse influence a person’s behavior greatly. Alcohol abuse is twice as strong of a predictor of violence as mental illness, whereas drug abuse increases likelihood of violence to three times as likely. These dramatic increases in chance indicate that background checks have the potential to prevent guns falling into the hands of those who should not be in possession of a lethal weapon. (Lindgren, “Forward: That Past and Future of Guns.”)
Another policy that has also been controversial is a ban on high-capacity magazines. A high-capacity magazine is a storage and feeding device that holds more than a certain number of rounds of ammunition. In several decades in the future, when this policy has decreased the circulation of high-capacity magazines, there is a strong potential for a decrease in mass murders. Among gun control advocates, a ban on high-capacity magazines is favored because this can reduce the number of shots available in the case of a mass shooting, therefore possible gun deaths. For example, the Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance that would forbid city residents from possessing handgun or rifle magazines that exceed 10 rounds of ammunition. This indicates the logic that most gun control advocates follow; more than 10 rounds of ammunition is unnecessary in self-defense. (Kopel, “The Costs and Consequences of Gun Control.”)
The last focal policy in favor of gun control is a ban on assault weapons. Simply put, this ban restricts the ability to use certain types of firearms which are perceived to be a particular threat to public safety. The purpose of gun regulation is not just about safe storage and the misuse of firearms, but also about actually controlling what weapons are in circulation. (Cornell, “The Second Amendment Permits Reasonable Regulations on Gun Ownership.”)
As far as assault weapon bans are concerned, this policy was actually enacted as a law. The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act became a law in 1994, which was a step forward for gun control advocates. This law banned the manufacture, possession, use, and import of nineteen types of assault weapons, including AK-47’s and Uzis. However, this law expired in 2004. Bernie Sanders, an advocate for the ban of assault weapons, argued, “No one needs an AK-47 to hunt.” An assault rifle is not needed for recreational sports or hunting, therefore the use of this rifle is unnecessary to our day-to-day lives. In order to keep firearms such as an AK-47 out of the hands of everyday citizens, new and tighter policies need to be enacted. (Griesmann, “Guns Do Kill People.”)
While the positive effects of these main three policies are evident, opposition in America is nonstop. Conversely, the opposing side sees these policies as overreach. For instance, background checks are opposed by gun rights proponents because the black market would grow. Under the active National Instant Criminal Background Check System, persons who are in the business of selling firearms must perform a criminal background check prior to any sale. Even if the actual sale is prohibited, the transfer of the gun cannot be regulated. Consider a twenty-five year old man or woman who buys a gun, he or she could give the gun to her brother when she is out of town or to a neighbor for protection. Background checks would be ineffective in such cases. (Kopel, “The Costs and Consequences of Gun Control.”)
A ban on high-capacity magazines means that the part of the firearm where the ammunition is stored would be limited to a certain number of rounds. In 1994, the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act was predicated on the idea that using firearms for recreational use is legitimate. However this act also states that other firearm use is not legitimate. Because this act does not specify limits on ammunition, other measure have been necessary. The term itself, “high-capacity magazine” has a legitimate meaning when referring to a magazine that extends beyond what is intended for the gun’s optimal operation. An example of a high-capacity magazine would be a handgun magazine that has 40 rounds. As opposed to gun control logic, gun rights advocates argue that 10 rounds of ammunition would not be sufficient in cases of self-defense. For example, if a victim is facing multiple attackers or faced with a threat behind a cover, the extra rounds can be crucial for the victim to survive. (Kopel, “The Costs and Consequences of Gun Control.”)
Gun rights proponents argue that a ban on assault weapons would also be an invasion of rights, because if a military invasion occurred, assault weapons would be citizen’s last line of defense. To gun rights advocates, banning assault weapons would make individuals powerless against a greater threat. The gun rights perspective believes that the term “assault weapons” is a political gimmick intended to stir public confusion. The confusion surrounding this policy concerns what type of guns can actually qualify as assault weapons. The types of guns that are banned are constantly being modified over time, but what remains consistent is that automatic firearms are not covered and that guns are not banned based on how fast they fire or how powerful they are. The definition of what weapons are banned are instead based on the name of a gun, or on whether a firearm has certain accessories or components. Most of the guns deemed assault weapons are semi-automatics. Gun rights supporters argue that this is not legitimate because the guns used in the ban are semi-automatics, which are less dangerous than automatic firearms. (Kopel, “The Costs and Consequences of Gun Control.”)
No one can doubt that guns are a large part of American culture. However, the question is whether a part of our culture should cost so many innocent lives. Every U.S. community has been affected by the reckless use of firearms, in the form of accidents, suicides, and homicides. Guns can be used as tools and for recreation, but are also potentially lethal. For a majority of rural America, guns are a part of day-to-day life. Though drastically different, the Republican and Democratic parties are equally American. However, both sides fail to realize that gun regulation is also equally American as gun ownership.Through examining both interpretations of the Second Amendment, assessing the relationship between violence and guns, and exploring two perspectives on gun control policies, it has become clear that gun regulation can serve the common good, rather than gun rights. The nature of gun-related crimes makes absolute prevention impossible, but that does not mean that policies that can decrease violence should be ignored. The bottom line is that guns affect everyone in some way; guns can be a weapon of self-defense in the right hands, but an instrument of destruction in the wrong hands. The ultimate goal is to find that middle ground in reaching the final goal of reducing gun violence. Though deeply rooted in American history, it is safe to say that this debate is long from over.