Gun politics incorporating all its political manifests and associated firearm rights have been one of the most controversial issues in the United States of America. The nucleus of the debate is the relationship between the duty and responsibility of the government to provide for the defense of the people and the rights of the citizens against the authority of the government to have tighter control over the use of firearms for preventing the incidence of crimes and maintaining law and order in the country. Gun control is a delicate issue having several viewpoints. The first issue is whether there is the constitutional authority for framing federal, state, or local regulations governing the ownership of firearms by individuals. Another related issue is whether such laws and regulations are effective in materially reducing violent crimes (Gottesman). There have been repeated cycles of public outrage, action, and reaction whenever there were sensational incidents of shooting, and most of the time, it has necessitated the framing of various regulations concerning gun control. However, the argument that guns are the source of violent crimes and that the possession and use of guns need to be regulated through legislation is to be considered unconstitutional and ineffective in the light of the following discussion.
The right of owning a gun and getting defended is considered to be one of the important elements in the display of American Identity. This viewpoint was supported by the rural states more than the urban states (Sales). It is estimated that almost 25 percent of the adult population in the United States personally possess a gun and about 50 percent of the adult population in the United States live in a household that has a gun around (Cook & Ludwig). Because of the possession by a large number of people and the violence the guns create they are treated as weapons of homicide. This has made society believe that guns create criminals. However, it cannot be denied that law-abiding citizens have the right to have protection from any danger to their person. Gun is to be regarded as a tool and they are not intended to kill people. In many instances, due to the possession of guns by the victims, burglaries thefts, and injuries to persons have been avoided. Therefore it is the user and purposes for which the guns are used are the elements that should determine the validity of arguments in favor of gun control. It has been reported that with the increase in the number of permits the number of crimes has gone down (Lott Jr).
The Second Amendment to the US Constitution has granted specific rights to the citizens to enjoy the possession of firearms. The second part of the Amendment is more specific about the rights of the people to keep and bear firearms and that such rights shall not be infringed. Therefore enforcing gun control may be deemed as an act against the citizens’ right under the Constitution. In addition, enforcing gun control is not going to reduce the crime rate because such control cannot guarantee that the criminals will be deterred from illegally purchasing and possessing guns or other types of firearms.
It can be argued that the safety of the people should be a more important factor than the Constitutional rights of the citizens. This argument is based on the misleading picture depicted by the media that gun violence is a huge problem. However, the fact remains that in the year 2005, out of 30,000 deaths that happened in the United States from gun-related causes, only 12,000 have been identified to be a homicide and therefore punishable. Rests of the death are incidents involving suicide committed by individuals. During the same year, it is reported that more than 43,000 people were killed in accidents involving automobiles (Medred). Is there a point in banning cars that have caused a greater number of deaths than guns? This also proves the point that gun deaths are relatively insignificant as compared to deaths resulting from other causes. Therefore, it appears that there is no serious case for introducing any stricter gun control legislation.
Advocates of gun control legislation argue that gun control laws can regulate the possession of guns by insisting on the kinds of people who can purchase and possess guns and the types of guns that can be purchased, in addition to the conditions for the safe custody of the guns. However, such conditions imposed by the gun control regulations may not contribute to the intended purpose of reducing gun-related crimes. Gun control laws do not address how outlaws purchase guns for illegal uses. It is often found that guns used in violent crimes are obtained using illegal means such as theft or are purchased from unauthorized dealers. While committing a crime, the criminal already breaks several laws which are in practice and it is for sure that the criminal will not hesitate to break the gun control laws, which makes the gun control meaningless.
It can be argued that by implementing gun control legislation, the defense available to several law-abiding citizens is put in jeopardy. Gun control laws do not affect the criminals but the six to eight million law-abiding citizens who own guns. It is estimated that guns are used in self-defense almost 2.5 million times during one year. Guns are used in acts of self-defense, more than eighty times they are used in committing crimes of homicide. Out of the 2.5 million incidents of self-defense, guns are used to kill the attackers only in eight percent of the incidents (Gun Control Fact Sheet). In the majority of incidents, guns are used just to threaten the attackers. Therefore, by enacting stricter gun control legislation the self-defense available to many good citizens would be done away with.
It has been proved that states which permit citizens to carry concealed handguns were able to reduce the crime rates. For instance, the state of Vermont that allows the carrying of firearms freely by the citizens has been placed as one of the top-ranking states in the matter of safety of the citizens. Florida is another example in this case, where the murder rates have been reduced by fifty-seven percent in the 15 years commencing from 1987 when the state started adopting concealed carry laws and in pursuance issued almost 800,000 permits for its citizens to carry concealed handguns; whereas, in Washington DC, where the ban on handguns came into force from 1976, the rate of violent crimes and murder has gone up tremendously (Gun Control Fact Sheet). This clearly shows that gun control is not the answer.
From the foregoing discussion, it can reasonably be concluded that not all crimes are committed because of the possession of guns. It is also observed that with the right-to-carry firearms the safety of the person and property of the individual citizens are guaranteed. Criminals are often discouraged to commit crimes in which they have to face the presence of a gun. This has been proved by the studies conducted on the passing of the laws relating to the carrying of guns in different states and the reduction in the crime rates. There is evidence to prove that there is no increase in the crimes using guns when the states adopted laws for carrying guns. Hence this paper concludes that since there is no definite and positive relationship between the carrying of guns and the crime rates gun control is not the answer for effectively controlling the crimes.
- Cook, J Philip and Jens Ludwig. Evaluating Gun Policy: Effects on Crime and Violence. Washington D C: Brookings Institution Press, 2003.
- Gottesman. Violence in America: An Encyclopedia. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1999.
- Gun Control Fact Sheet. Gun Owners Foundation, 2004.
- Medred, Craig. People, Not Guns, Are the Problem Current Controversies: School Violence Ed Lucinda Almond. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2007.
- LottJr, John R. More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws. 2007.
- Sales, Leigh. A Look inside America’s Gun Culture. 2007. Web.