The human mind has gone through many phases of developmental changes. On reaching the part where it recognized how to comprehend ideas and the capacity of reasoning, he started questioning several issues around him. One such issue that became a thought-provoking topic was that of Gun Control. The matter has been a subject of much dispute amongst the people of America because, in the past, the usage of guns was not restricted by any rule or law but since man has realized the number of crimes that co-exist with it, it was decided to control it. This gave rise to a heated debate because many thought that restrictions on guns meant a compromise on their safety, something they were not ready to agree on. They argued that the answer to the gun problem is to give guns to the law abiding and responsible citizens of America rather than taking them away from them. People and other law enforcement bodies, share the view that guns are used for stopping criminals from committing crimes, and to prove this statement right, Gold includes a report by the U.S. government that figured 100,000 crimes that are prevented by ordinary citizens per year (Gold 2004). Gun control has been a matter of debate in the United States of America with one group advocating the benefits of strong gun control laws whereas the others arguing against the implementation of these laws.
Gun Control in United States: A controversial Issue
The subject of Gun control has become a controversial and an emotional issue for the people of America. There are two views regarding the subject. The advocates of gun control who stress that guns increase the level of crime while the gun supporters argue that the absence of guns will result in more deaths and facilitate murder (Sieberg 2005).
Pros: The advocates of Gun Control
Gun control supporters argue that more guns mean more deaths in the society and should be removed from the country immediately. They believe that people who own guns are more likely to kill their friends or a family member rather than an outsider. This view was shared by Dr. Kellermann who further said that people with guns use it against their families and close relations 43 times more than using it on an intruder. The former President of United States, Bill Clinton, too was an advocate of gun control and stated that 13 children die per day of gun inflicted wounds and the level of suicide, homicide and domestic violence increases with the availability of guns. Mass murders like 1999 Columbine High School and California shooting all took place because of the easy availability of guns the to the general public. It is argued by supporters of gun control that tightly controlled availability of guns can reduce the level of crime and is important for public safety as well (Chambliss 2011).
Cons: Advocates of Gun Rights
The advocates of gun rights present a different argument regarding the matter stating that crimes take place because the law abiding citizens can no longer protect themselves as they are not allowed to own guns. They cite studies by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz. According to the results of this study, guns are used in defense between 2.2 and 2.5 times a year. The National Rifle Association on the other hand, publishes stories from around the world on its website that deal with citizens “successfully rebuffing and incapacitating criminals with their handguns” (Chambliss 2011). Economists as John R. Lott argued that the efforts of Legislation to restrict gun control ownership have denied many citizens from protecting themselves. He grafted out a figure that showed the average number of violent crimes before the adoption of law and what was seen was a drastic rise in the level of crime after the implementation of strong gun control laws. He gave reasons for criticizing the law and his findings by the analysis of FBI’s annual statistics of crime provided strong results to support his claim. He explained that those states in the United States where laws of gun control were relaxed had the lowest rate of crime in comparison to other states. It was further seen that the usage of guns was greater for self-protection rather than for committing crimes and statistics also revealed that there was no strong benefit obtained from the strong gun control laws (Skousen 2008). A study regarding murder rates in the American states was conducted in the year 2004 by the “U.S National Academy of Sciences”. At the end of the study, it was analyzed that gun control failed to reduce any violent crime, suicides or any other gun related accident. This study was based on “253 journal articles, 99 books, 43 government publications, and some other original empirical research” (Kates & Mauser 2007).
Initial Laws of Gun Control in United States
The New York State’s Sullivan Law of 1909 was the first legal step in controlling guns in the United States. It was passed at a time when the subject of prohibition of drugs and alcohol were being discussed which affected the level of crime. The increasing population by the new immigrants entering the country too paved the way for the crime controlling laws to be implemented. The police department of New York denied the use of guns except to the important and influential people of the city. This action was applauded by the advocates of gun control while the opponents rallied against it (Dizard, Muth & Andrews 1999). The upheavals created by the gun supporters further complicated the matter making it a serious problem for the government.
Gun Control: A political Dilemma
The year 1934 served to provide as a major success for the gun control advocates as restrictions were imposed by the Congress after a proposal put forward by Attorney General Homer Cummings. According to this proposal, the utilization of firearms was only to be restricted for sports. This bill was made after the case United Stated v. Miller, where the defendants were charged with the transportation of guns that were not registered (Chambliss 2011). The Bill however, could not be accepted wholly because of the criticism it received by the National Firearms Act (NFA) and many sportsmen’s associations. To overcome this disapproval, relaxations were made and “handguns and semi-automatic rifles” were excluded from this legislation. The administration continued to enact much tighter legislations which subsequently led to a decline in crime in 1934. The Federal Fire arms Act (FFA), was finally passed in 1938 by Congress, which ordered dealers to keep a record of their sales and to license their businesses. It is believed that the Federal Fire Arms Act was drafted by the NRA with the intention of preventing stricter legislations (Dizard et al 1999).
The Gun Control Act, 1968
The Federal Government continued their attempts of making an integrated and affective system of gun control thus in 1968, the Gun Control Act was enacted. This act was brought about by the assassination of two very prominent figures that is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and President John F. Kennedy. The act limited the possession of guns and asked all the dealers to keep permanent records of their sales and also to write down serial numbers on guns. Despite of this act, another serious attack came in the year 1981 on another President of the United States. A firearm attack by John Hinckley was carried out to kill President Reagan. The President luckily survived but the Press Secretary in that time, James Brady became the victim of the bullet. The bullet pierced his head and the accident permanently crippled Brady but his wife Sarah, endeavored to the best of her ability and was successful in enacting the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (Chambliss 2011).
The Brady Bill
The Brady Act was signed by President Bill Clinton on 30th November’ 1993 and was enacted on February 28, 1994 (Kleck 1997). The act made a system that was to be used by licensed dealers in “checking out perspective buyers” to help them in ensuring that the person is eligible to own a gun or not (Chambliss 2011).
California Statehouse Incident and the Second Amendment
In 1967, twenty four black men and six women entered the California statehouse with loaded guns and invaded the place. Reason given was that they were against the government for passing the law which denied citizens from keeping guns for their safety. This show of aggression gave way to the modern gun- rights movement. The text of the Second Amendment stated “Right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” (Winkler 2011). Increasing gun ownership in the United States marked a rapid decrease in crimes (Kates & Mauser 2007). It guaranteed an individual with the privilege of owning guns for the purpose of his protection (Winkler 2011). But the advocates said that strict gun control laws can inhibit violence and the also that the person carrying a gun even for protection holds a greater risk of victimization than those who do not (Siegel 2011).
President Obama’s stand on the issue: A shock for the advocates
When Barrack Obama became the President of the United States of America, many advocates feared the fact that he intended to provide for stronger gun control laws. But much to their surprise, the President has remained silent on the matter of gun control while the states are busy preparing new and vast gun rights that were rejected in the past. A bill was passed in the year 2010 and implemented in Virginia which provided for the authority to the people to have hidden weapons on their visits to bars. This bill appeared in Virginia after the passage of only 3 years of a firing incident at Virginia Tech that resulted in the death of 33 people. This brutal incident had led to strong demands by gun control advocates to take strong steps on a national scale for controlling the usage of guns (Urbina 2010).
Subsequently, Arizona and Wyoming are planning of bringing about several measures that would allow the usage of guns. One of these measures which have been suggested is the permission to have hidden weapons by the people of these states. Such bills have also been proposed in other states as well. With these ongoing activities, gun control advocates have criticized President Obama for his leniency towards the matter. Paul Helmke who serves as the President for the “Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence”, revealed his disappointment as they had higher hopes that the President would have taken a strong stand to control gun. The White House has responded to these criticisms by presenting the statistics of F.B.I which revealed a reduction in the crime rates from1960 to 2009 (Urbina, 2010).
The debate over guns is not likely to disappear in the near future nor does it seem to reach a mutual agreement. The advocates are passionate on both sides and have a strong standing on their viewpoint. The government has drafted out several laws to suppress guns but the question Do gun- control laws work cannot be answered. There is a strong relation between guns and crime and both are inseparable even though drastic measures have been taken against them. But at the same time, there are some traces of positivity seen in some gun control laws. The Brady Bill has stopped more than 250,000 illegal sales of guns (Gold 2004) but there are those who say that most of the criminals got guns illegally despite the Brady Bill. Thus, both side advocates will continue to launch legislative initiatives so to reach their goals but neither side is strong enough to decide the fate of the gun. (Chambliss 2011).
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Kates, D. B., & Mauser, G. (January 01, 2007). Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide? A Review of
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Urbina, Ian (2010, February 23). “Fearing Obama Agenda, States Push to Loose Gun Laws.” The New York Times.
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Winkler, Adam (2011, September) “The Secrect History of Guns” The Atlantic. Retrieved from: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/09/the-secret-history-of-guns/8608/2/