Gun Control In America Today Criminology Essay

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Recently in the United States there has been a large increase in violence and mass shootings. The problem seems to stem from the wrong people getting their hands on guns. Its not that the gun itself that kills people, it's the person shooting the gun. Outlawing guns would be absurd, not only would this anger a large majority of the American people it won't reduce the crime rate or mass shootings one bit. Outlawing guns means that only outlaws would have guns due to the simple fact that they would be the only people who can purchase a gun cheaply and hassle free. Not every murder committed by a gun can be prevented but our government has the potential and the authority to make them miniscule. The United States government should better regulate the usage and sale of guns to protect the citizens of America more efficiently with out having to make unnecessary actions of fabricating laws in order to ban guns.

A major controversy in today's America is the issue on Assault Riles. An assault rifle is a selective fire rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine. An assault rifle can be fully automatic, semiautomatic, or burst capable. A burst capable gun is when there is one pull of the trigger and multiple rounds fire at once. An AK-47 is an assault rifle that is fully automatic and has been used in mass shootings, most prominently the Omaha Mall shooting. An M-16 is a three-round burst gun, which is fairly common in the military. The AR-15 is a semiautomatic gun and is also commonly found in the military. For a gun to be considered an assault rifle, it must have a few certain characteristics; for example: the gun must be capable of selective fire, it must have an intermediate power cartridge (more powerful than a pistol but less than a rifle), it must have a firing range of 1,000 feet, it must fire from the shoulder, and the ammunition must be supplied from a detachable magazine (Assault Rifle). Assault rifles are standard used to nearly every army in the world. Today in America, in order to own an assault a rifle, you must register the gun and have a background check performed. In many murders/homicides the shooter will often steal a gun or purchase a gun illegally therefore information on that gun can't be traced back to them. Another positive of stealing a weapon for the killer is that they didn't have to pay anything for the gun and essentially is a free way to kill someone. There is also a black market for assault rifles whose main customers are cartels, gang members, and any outlaw in need of a quick and easy way to obtain an assault rifle.

In 1994 congress took action in an attempt to ban assault rifles. As a subtitle of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which called for 10-year ban on civilian use of assault rifles. The bill was signed by President Bill Clinton and only applied to weapons manufactured after the bill's signing date of September 13, 1994. The firearm industry found ways around the law and continued to sell weapons that were almost identical to the ones that congress was trying to ban in the first place. These are known as post-ban model guns, which have almost no differences. As part of the laws sunset provision the law expired as planned on September 13, 2004 (Federal Assault Weapons Ban). The law didn't do anything significant to help our country. The law caused crime rates to slightly rise along with the prices of guns and ammunition. Only manufactures and retailers appreciated this price rise and the ban did not sit well with a majority of Americans, especially gun owners. Recently there has been a push for the renewal of the bill but no bill of its type has been made into law yet. Not only would a renewal be ineffective but also it would be targeting the wrong type of gun. As shown in the chart below shooters chose semiautomatic handguns almost 50% of the time. They only choose assault rifles as their weapon about 20% of the time. It is clear that if an assault weapons ban were to be put into place it would only cause an increased use of other weapons to take the place of the assault rifles. The ban would not decrease any homicide rates; as a matter of fact it would only decrease homicides committed by those who decide to use an assault rifle instead of any other firearm.

In 1968, our government took steps towards gun control by passing the Gun Control Act of 1968. The legislation was signed and passed on October 22 by President Lynden Johnson. The law focused on regulating interstate commerce in firearms by generally prohibiting interstate firearms transfers except among licensed manufacturers, dealers, and importers (Gun Control Act of 1968). Although our government showed concern about gun control it seems as if the American people didn't take them seriously and since 1982, there have been 62 mass shootings in the United States. In the past few years America has experienced quite a few mass shootings. The most recent mass shooting were the Newtown, Connecticut shooting, Aurora, Colorado theatre shooting, Tucson, Arizona shooting, Fort Hood Massacre, Virginia Tech massacre and the Omaha mall shooting. Out of just the shootings previously mentioned over 180 innocent people were injured or killed. Unfortunately the oldest shooting being in 2006 and the newest was just a few months ago, in the final half of 2012 (A Guide to Mass Shootings in America).

All of these shootings are prime examples of the wrong people getting their hands on guns and how significant and necessary background checks are. Our government should run a brief check on all those who purchased a handgun. To those citizens who wish to buy an assault rifle, a more thorough and in depth background check should be in place. If a person seems responsible enough for the gun they are purchasing then they should be required by our government to have a license. To all those people who choose to buy guns they should be advised to always keep their guns locked and hidden. If all gun owners kept their guns locked up until needed then potentially some shootings could be prevented. In fact in most recent mass shootings the shooter has either stolen the guns and has had a mental disability and should never have had access to a gun.

In some of the more recent mass shootings the big question is focused on the mental disabilities or illnesses that these shooters have. There is a mental illness by the name of schizophrenia. This illness is commonly characterized a breakdown of thought processes and by poor emotional responsiveness. This illness can stem from genetics, early environment, neurobiology, and psychological and social processes. It has been noticed that some recreational and prescription drugs can cause or worsen symptoms of schizophrenia. People who have this illness are twice as likely to be violent as to those who don't have it. Those who have schizophrenia and have a substance abuse problem should seek help immediately because they have a nine timers higher risk of violence than those with neither disorder. People with this illness are especially know for homicide, being 20 times more likely to kill someone than someone who is not affected by schizophrenia (Szalavilz). If our government can make it so that these people have to be cleared by a doctor to have possession of or own a gun then many lives in the future could be saved.

Guns continue to have more of a positive impact on society than they do negative. For example, according to the Second Amendment Foundation for every life taken by a gun 2,575 lives have been saved. Most Americans use their guns for the right reasons such as self-defense and or recreational hunting. As a matter of fact, of the people who own guns in the United States, 67% use guns for protection, 66% use guns for target shooting, and 41% use firearms for hunting. In the United States, 48% of households have guns and 34% of adults own a gun (Agresti). There are only a small percentage of people who use guns for the wrong reasons.

"Isn't it about who has the gun and not the gun itself?" (Graham and Flynn). The previous quote was from a debate between South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and Miluwakee Police Chief Edward Flynn. Mr. Flynn is and advocate of Gun Control and is in favor of an assault weapons ban. Senator Graham is against gun control, he and many of his fellow Americans share similar views and are against the ban of assault weapons. As Senator Graham says, its not the gun that is the problem it is the poeople using them. The following chart depicts exactly his point. It shows that when there are a myriad of guns the violent crime count decreases. The charts data continues the same trend for years to come.

The chart came from

If our government made guns and ammunition for guns more expensive and harder to obtain, the people who should have them won't and the people who shouldn't have them will. Economist John Lott claims that laws that make it easier for law-abiding citizens to get a permit to carry a gun in public places reduces crime rates. His information obtained in his study came from the FBI's crime stats from all 3,054 counties in the United States. There are not nearly enough cops or law enforcement to prevent mass shootings or murders. For example, say one in every four law abiding, responsible people were allowed to carry a concealed weapon at all times. Imagine the lives that could be saved. If someone in that movie theatre in Aurora Colorado would have had a gun on them, then potentially only one person could have died rather than the 12 that did and the 58 others who were injured.

At the current rate in the United States, a little over two mass shootings occur a year. If the government can better regulate who can buy and obtain weapons that number should decrease. In order to obtain a concealed weapons license one must undergo a lengthy application process. If the government were able to make the process quicker and easier but still make sure only responsible law abiding citizens would receive them then crime rates in most areas would experience a steady decline. Restraining gun sale and usage can definitely have a negative effect on our country and possibly increase violence between gangs and unlicensed gun owners. The outlawing of guns would be completely unconstitutional and go against the Second Amendment.

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution states that all American citizens should have, "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." If the government did indeed enact a law on some sort of weapons ban it would be brought to court, on terms that the law goes against the Second Amendment. Due to the fact the case has to do with the constitutionality of a law then the case would end up being debated in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Count does not have to accept the case but a large majority of the cases that they do accept have to do with the constitutionality of a certain law or action. If the case did indeed reach the Supreme Court it is almost certain that the Justices would rule in favor of the people and claim the law to be unconstitutional, striking down the law in the process.

Not only are strict gun laws and almost total gun control a bad idea but it has been proven inefficient and unsuccessful. In 1996 Australia experienced a mass shooting, similar to the ones seen here in America recently. In reaction to this even they placed gun laws that have never been seen before. At the time Prime Minister John Howard made laws that enacted a total ban on semiautomatic weapons, a mandatory gun buyback, and strict limits on who could own a firearm. With such strict laws one may think that it would drop all suicide, homicide, and any deaths caused by gun to go down. Surprisingly the new laws didn't seem to affect any of these rates. The homicide rate did fall after the enactment of the laws but it had been on a steady decrease for years prior to the new laws. Researchers at The University of Melbourne found little conclusive evidence saying that the laws had any significant effects on firearm homicide or suicide rates (Australia Gun Control: Success or Failure?). All the country gained from these strict laws was many aggravated citizens, a more difficult ownership process, the loss of the use of assault rifles, and inflated prices on guns and ammunition.

If laws were passed in America identical to the ones passed in Australia then laws would be broken every day and would be seen as unconstitutional. Owning an assault rifle falls under our Second Amendment right of keeping and bearing guns. As a country we are proud of our weapons and taking away some of our prized possessions would not go over well with the majority of American citizens. Laws banning assault rifles in America would be deemed unconstitutional by the citizens and the courts and would never allow such law to be passed. America is also much different than Australia in the area of cartel and gang related activities. Banning assault rifles would only cause inflated crime rates and a steady increase of sales on the black market. We would be filling our jails with unworthy people. Instead of jailing a person for owning an assault rifle, why not save the space for murders and drug dealers? Australia is the most recent country to place such restrictions on firearms. If their gun control laws were successful more countries would adopt the same set of laws but no other countries have. Since it didn't have any positive effect on Australia the laws would only have negative effects here in America. Due to the fact America has higher suicide and homicide rates these laws would not really effect the percentages for the betterment of the United States.

America does not need gun control. Part of President Barack Obama's new gun control plan is to reinstate the ban on military style assault weapons and limit magazines to 10 rounds each. Another part of his plan is to ban armor-piercing bullets and pass new gun trafficking laws (Montopoli). President Obama unfortunately is an advocate of Gun control. America can thrive to all new levels with out the hassle of gun control. The guns aren't causing the problem it is the people operating them. The United States government should better regulate the usage and sale of guns to protect the citizens of America more efficiently with out having to make unnecessary actions of constructing laws in order to ban guns. This is possible, the question is whether or not our government is willing to find a way to make it happen.