There are dozens of high profile social issues and topics of unrest. Immigration, abortion, international relations and the current state of American politics. There are a lot of opinions, a lot of agendas and a lot of heated debated.
One issue that has been and remains a serious, controversial and regularly argued issue is gun ownership, gun regulations and gun rights in the United States of America, including the debate regarding gun control in the 21st century. There is no question that gun crimes have been and remain a concern. It is something that is a concern throughout all levels of society, the federal government, state law makers, law enforcement and the general public. Some people are opposed to guns being available for anyone in the public. They believe in strict regulations being levied and the right to bear arms to be taken out of the United States Constitution. They believe this will lessen gun crime, gun deaths and crime overall. There are, also, many people who support the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. The opposition to strict gun control regulations believes that Americans have an unalienable right to gun ownership. After reviewing the available information it becomes clear the solutions to the gun control issues in the United States is compromise. While all efforts must be made to protect the American right to bear arms is feasible to consider some common sense gun control laws in the United States.
The history of guns in the United States literally goes back to the beginning. Many have this idea that there never has been gun control in the United States and that suggesting it is something new is untrue. The first major gun control laws were enacted in 1934 to combat organized crime. In 1938 dealer and sellers were required to file for a license. In 1968, after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Gun Control Act of 1938 worked to limit any types of guns being imported that were not for “sport.” In 1993 the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was put into effect to enforce that strict background checks are performed before a customer can purchase a firearm. Many began to call for augmentation of the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution (Gray). The 2nd Amendment and any attempt to alter it is an affront to many people. However, there are many in the government, academic and general public who do not believe that the 2nd Amendment was ever intended to protect individual rights to bear firearms and freely as they do today (Elving). Current statistics show that there are approximately 400,000,000 guns in the United States, which are 120 firearms for every 100 people. 22% of Americans are gun owners, 35% male an 21% female. This is a based upon registered gun owners, this cannot account for the millions of illegal firearms that are unaccounted for. This is why there is so much gun violence in the United States at least that is how many feel today. Others argue that that the majority of gun owners are not the people who are ultimately the perpetrators or victims of gun violence (ProCon Organization). At least this is just one of the many argument arguments regarding gun ownership, regulation and rights.
It is not in question that gun crime is a serious issue in many places in the United States. Over the last few years we have seen mass shootings, like Las Vegas, where the shooter had an arsenal of weapons that he used to unleash on an unsuspecting concert crowd. There have been terrorist acts, both international and domestic, involving guns. Finally, and most disturbing to many, is the number of school shootings that have become more and more common. However, the greatest areas of gun violence concerns are related to street crimes, gang violence and organized crime. This is a problem in many major American cities, like Chicago and Detroit. Clearly there is a need address the problem, but not all agree on what they approach should be. Gun Control, however, usually becomes the most common debate. It is important to also mention that while the federal laws regarding gun ownership are cemented in the 2nd Amendment, individual states have also adopted their own laws. For example, in Texas it is easier to acquire a gun and the permit to carry that gun on their person whenever they wish. However, other states have much stricter laws and work hard to keep as many guns as possible out of the public’s hands. Many of these states attach very high penalties and even prison sentences for illegally possessing or using a firearm. This is deterrence for some, but apparently not for enough for all. The many differing laws show the diversity of views in places all across the country. These variances an also mean finding a more universalized solution is difficult to hope to achieve. As discussed, the statistics of gun crimes and the loss of lives attributed to firearms are disturbing and there is a need to deter and prevent gun crimes and unnecessary losses of life. When a violent tragedy occurs, a mass shooting, a senseless drive-by or school shooting people need someone to blame. Very often, however, people do not blame the shooters, but instead they blame the guns themselves and that is misguided. Guns are inanimate objects, a tool, its use is determined by its holder. The fact is when people look at such crimes they ascribe to the logic that if there had been no gun, then this event would not have happened. If a man walks into liquor store and holds up a man at gun point and steals all of the money out of the register. If this man had not had a gun, then he might not have committed this crime. If a man attempts to steal a man’s car, he points a gun at the man and forces him out of the driver’s seat. However, the driver pulls out a firearm of his own. He fires and defends himself and his property. If there had been no guns the situation might have been differently. That is an assumption. If greater gun control laws were in place then this would not happen. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees and they believe gun control will never have the effect in the long-term that its supporters claim. The issues relating to gun ownership, gun regulations and gun rights are an incredibly complex issue. It is not as simple as passing a law or as easy as saying that the rules have changed. In order to enforce strict gun control it will be necessary to alter the 2nd Amendment. Many are never going to support that under any circumstance.
However, such changes are not a new concept. Amendments have been made before if they are deemed ethical and beneficial, like women’s rights. However, in this case the two sides are adamant regarding their positions. To truly understanding those differing views it is essential to discuss these pros and cons individually.
Pros of Greater Gun Control
Less Guns Available: The idea that by eliminating guns from people who own them legally it is assumed that this will make fewer guns available. Making it harder for the average citizen or offender to get their hands on guns. This will automatically improve the problem.
Will Lessen Gun Crime: If there are fewer guns then there will be less opportunity for offenders to use guns in the commission of crimes. This will make crime a lot less lethal for the people involved. Without the advantage of guns, gun crime will automatically lessen. Current homicide rates versus gun ownership show that waiting periods limit those approved and can have as much as a 17% decrease in homicide rates in some locations.
Less Mass Shootings/Suicides: The instances of mass shootings and school shootings always bring up the gun control debate. If guns were not so easy to acquire then these mentally unstable and juveniles would not be able to commit these crimes. If a mentally unstable person could not apply for and purchase guns, then they can commit mass shootings. If parents of juveniles did not keep guns in their home then there would never be school shootings. Many also turn to firearms to commit suicide because they are available.
Will Lower Overall Crime Statistics: If guns are removed once and for all from free public access by engaging in stricter gun control laws then it will have a direct effect of overall crime statistics as well. This means that gun control would lead to many other benefits in the future.
2nd Amendment No Longer Applies: The 2nd Amendment is what gun control opposition relies on. However, the 2nd Amendment was intended to protect citizens from outside invasions; like a militia. It was never intended to allow people to own arsenals of weaponry within their own homes, vehicles and, even, on their person. The Constitution needs to be amended to eliminate this interpretation of the amendment.
Cons of Greater Gun Control
Punishes the Wrong People: The majority of people who legally own guns, who have the proper paperwork and training to use and store them responsibly are not the people or the weapons that are often used in crimes. It is people who get their guns illegally and these guns are part of the black market gun sales. If stricter gun laws are enacted it would be punishing the wrong people (Blanco 628). This is unethical.
Less Guns-Not Less Crime: If stricter gun control laws were enacted then it would reduce the number of guns. However, there is no correlation between lessening of gun crimes and, specifically, no lessening of overall crimes because guns had been prohibited. There are many ways to commit a crime and if a gun is not an option then they will simply find another way.
No Effect on Suicides: Strict gun control laws have not and will not have a huge effect on suicide rates. A person who wishes to attempt to or to successfully end their life is not more motivated by the presence of a gun. If they have such plans then they will find another way, pills, wrist-cutting and jumping of a building; they will find a way.
Relies on All to Adhere to Rules: There are some people who are law-followers and there are law breakers, hence why crime exists in the first place. If stricter gun control laws were enacted it would infringe on people’s Constitutional rights. It would also be the law abiding citizens who would surrender their weapons and adhere to these new laws. However, non-law abiding citizens would not; they will keep their guns and continue to commit crime using them.
Leaves Law-Abiding Citizens Unprotected: Those who support stricter gun control laws argue that with less guns on the street the less likely criminals will be to commit crime; it will act as deterrence. That is poor logic because when a home invader considers invading a home late at night if they know that the occupants cannot be legally armed their chance of overpowering them is higher. However, when they are uncertain, as they are now, as to who may or may not have a gun, it is even greater deterrence.
Defies the 2nd Amendment: Strict gun control laws are in complete defiance of the freedoms that the United States as always professed to offer. The 2nd Amendment was intended to allow citizens to bear arms to protect themselves, their families and their properties, both, from criminal acts, but also, acts against the people by the government. When the government begins disarming its people is anti-American and reminds many of the acts of tyrants, like Adolf Hitler. The right to own a gun and to use it in the defense of one’s life, their families or property is ingrained in the mindset of many American people. It is certainly a sensitive and often inflammatory topic. There are many people who own guns, not just for protection, but also for hunting for food in some parts of the United States. There are also people who proactive shooting as a competitive sport. There are many reasons that some Americans own guns and the majority have absolutely nothing to do with potentially committing a crime or firing it at a human being.
To enact strict gun control laws would make it more difficult for these people to maintain and purchase firearms. At the same time, all too often, people who should not have access to a weapon like a gun somehow manages to do so. When they then use that gun in a crime people cannot help but to ask, why? Why is it so easy, when stricter laws could have prevented it from happening in the first place? Both sides of the argument make solid points worthy of considering. As mentioned, there has almost always been some kind of gun control. These laws have evolved over time as society changed and the need presented itself. From the time of the first laws in the 1930s to the most recent efforts in the early part of the 21st century, there have been subtle changes.
Today, however, the two sides have gotten more combative and this is being exacerbated by the modern media. There is a huge political divide between the hardcore liberals and the hardcore conservatives in the country. The mainstream media tend to favor the interests of liberals and therefore they report and present stories that fit their narrative even if it is not accurate information. On the other side of the argument the conservative news also frames their stories to meet their particular demographic. This creates greater divides and a lot less willingness to compromise, which is exactly what is needed. This is where “Common Sense Gun Regulations” would come in or rather modern reforms of the one’s that have already existed, which would have the greatest benefit.
However, the reality is that the best way to resolve the gun control issues in the United States will not be found in strict gun control laws that impede the American right to purchase and own guns and the need to prevent that ownership for some individuals is through compromise. There are a number of common sense gun laws that make a lot of sense and could be beneficial in the fight to end gun crime and gun violence. Common sense regulations would only restrict the types of firearms that are not needed for home defense or hunting. Military grade machine guns, AK-47s and other automatic weaponry would be more limited. These weapons would rip apart animals hunted and would destroy the walls of a house if fired at a burglar and therefore are not necessary for the average American citizens. This legislature could also restrict dangerous ammunition, like “cop-killing ammo” and any kind of firearm accessories that allow one to turn a weapon into an automatic weapon, like “Bump-Kit.” This kind of compromise would allow for there to be deeper focus on the four major areas of greatest concern in the gun control debate. These areas of focus have the potential to affect some level of change and compromise in the fight regarding gun control in the United States.
Define Parameters: First, define the specific instances and individuals that would be prohibited them from possessing firearms. Understand all parameters so that there are no loopholes and misinterpretations.
Enforce Policies: Secondly, expend greater resources to prevent those who are prohibited from possessing firearms from accessing legal firearms. There should be real repercussions for those who defy the law and those gun sellers who overlook those policies.
Guns Outside the Home: Thirdly it will be necessary to limit the right of the public to carry guns in the public. If these weapons are for home and family defense then there is no reason that they need to carry them with them wherever they go. They should be left in the home.
Redesign Weapons: Finally, it will be necessary to change the styles and design of firearms in order to promote more personal and public safety. This would make it possible for less accidental shootings and also prevent children from being able to injure themselves or others.
Engaging in these common sense reforms would mean more extended background checks and longer waiting periods. It would empower the right to refuse some applicants from being able to purchase and own a firearm; convicted criminals, people with violent records and people with unstable mental states. This would protect the 2nd Amendment, but also allow for new legislature to be enacted to directly address unnecessary gun crime and gun violence in the United States. Guns are very serious weapons. They are weapons that can cause permanent injury and immediate death. Their use should be relegated to the kinds of scenarios where people feel generally threatened. For those law-abiding citizens who follow the laws and make certain that the firearms they own are properly registered and legal strict gun control laws would eliminate their sense of safety and peace of mind. However, there are others that truly believe that with fewer guns in the world, the world will inevitably be less dangerous. This is shortsighted and both sides need to be willing to compromise in meaningful ways. There is definitely a need to address the issues of unstable and unsavory individuals from possessing firearms, but it cannot be by sacrificing the 2nd Amendment and penalizing law abiding citizens. The best way to reach the happy-medium, a proper compromise, is to consider common sense control laws; it is the best of both worlds and the opportunity to make collaborative and effective change.