Investigating Whether America Should Stronger Gun Control Laws Criminology Essay

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Guns do not kill people. People with guns kill people. Roughly 16,272 murders were committed in the United States. Sixty-seven percent were crimes committed with firearms. In 2005, 3,027 young people were killed by firearms in the United States. Eighty-one percent of murder victims between the ages of twelve and twenty-four were killed with firearms. Fifty-two percent of the deaths of African Americans were directly linked to firearms. Firearms are the second leading cause of death to young people nineteen years and under.

Part I: Thesis

American culture is a gun culture. The United States has a population of 307 million people. Production data from manufacturers of firearms report that 300 million are owned or possessed by civilians in 2010, and 100 million were handguns(Argresti & Smith; 2010). Guns invade our daily lives. Everywhere you look there is evidence of the presence of firearms. They are shown in movies, on television, in video games, and in our streets. Too often do we hear or read about the tragic accidental gun related deaths or shootings, of the bad guys shooting innocent victims, car jacking, assault with intent to kill or do bodily harm, or of bad guys shooting each other. We are constantly reminded of self defense shootings, police shooting criminals, gang violence, random killings and suicides. Although we are constantly reminded of guns, the big question is what and how do we regulate the vast number of firearms and protect our citizen from the violence that prevails when guns find their way into the hands of unlawful citizens.

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The second amendment of the Constitution of the United States decrees a right to keep and bear arms and that right shall not be infringed. Although it is a constitutional right, the right to bear arms comes with the responsibility of legality. This right does not entitle one to walk down the street, brandish a firearm, and shoot the first person you see. Gone are the days of the wild, wild West. The average American citizen no longer has to hunt and kill for food. Because the manner of events and changes that have occurred in America, so have the laws surrounding and governing our right to bear arms. America has more than enough laws concerning firearm ownership. Stronger enforcement of these laws and making the accessibility to obtain firearms would be a better solution.

The Federal gun control laws try to create a balance between law abiding citizens, those who are responsible and desire ownership, and preventing certain other categories of irresponsible people from purchasing firearms. Allowing citizens to buy and carry handguns does not mean that other wise law-abiding people will harm each other. Neither will the threat of self-defense by citizens armed with handguns deter criminals. Many feel just the opposite, and that arming themselves will possibly just increase the amount of violence and criminal statistics.

In a National Opinion Research Center poll it was found that the person with less education, and those who had not been threatened with a gun were more supportive of stricter gun control laws (Lott, 2010). This is not to say that having a higher level of education will guarantee that you are immune to violent acts.

The Brady Bill established a requirement that firearms dealers hold off a proposed handgun sale for up to five business days in order for a background check to be carried out by the chief law enforcement officer (CLEO) in the jurisdiction where the dealer is located. This law pertains only to hand guns and does not include rifles and shotguns which can be purchased and almost any sporting goods store or Wal-mart. Statistics prove that most crimes are committed with a firearm that is not legally purchased or registered.

It is also important that education or training should be a part of the process when purchasing a firearm. Buyers should also learn how to handle, clean, store, and shoot their weapons of choice. This would help to eliminate or reduce the number of accidental shootings from occurring.

Brady’s Law also states that if a person has been convicted of a crime involving the use of a firearm, he/she should not be able to purchase another. It is illegal and punishable by up to 10 years in prison for the following people to receive, possess, or transport any firearm or ammunition: someone convicted of or under indictment for a felony punishable by more than one year in prison, someone convicted of a misdemeanor punishable by more than two years in prison, a fugitive from justice, an unlawful user of any controlled substance, someone who has been ruled as mentally defective or has been committed to any mental institution, an illegal alien, someone dishonorably discharged from the military, someone who has renounced his or her U.S. citizenship, someone subject to certain restraining orders, or someone convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor (Jacobs and Potter, 1995).

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The overall appeal to those in favor of stronger gun control seemingly have not fallen victim to crimes involving firearms. The outcome of these stronger gun control laws will help reduce the amounts of accidental shooting deaths, robberies, murder and suicides in America. Guns do not kill people. People with guns kill people.

Part II: Antithesis

Those opposed to stronger gun control laws can give a great many reasons for their stance on this question. The most common being that if the laws are made any stronger/stricter it will only lead to more illegal possession of firearms. Many think there are more than enough laws on record. They feel that if current laws were more strictly enforced, with strict weapons control, and that citizens acted more responsibly, there would be no need for stronger gun control laws.

Many of the crimes of violence have risen today because of the accessibility of firearms. The fact that a person who will arm himself or herself for personal gain, will find a way to do so whether or not it is legal. A serviceable firearm can be made of anything from a piece of pipe to a block of wood, or a box with rubber bands (Lott, 2010).

Right-to-carry laws permit individuals who meet certain "basic restrictive" requirements, such as completion of a background check and gun safety course, to carry concealed firearms in most public places. Concealed carry holders must also meet the minimum federal requirements for gun ownership.

Many feel that gun control is a cultural issue, and seeing gun control as a cultural issue is one way of framing the issue. It is also one that is very beneficial to the gun lobby. If gun control is seen as an attack on the value systems of millions of gun owning Americans, this allows the NRA to radicalize and mobilize those gun owners to oppose even modest changes in our nation’s gun laws (Henigan, 2009). This strategy is the "slippery slope" argument - that every incremental tightening of gun laws is but a step down the slippery slope to a general gun ban. When extending background checks block gun sales only to convicted felons or other dangerous people, this is a policy that makes all of us safer, including gun owners.

Many of the crimes of violence have risen today because of the accessibility of firearms. It has just become too easy. The fact is that if a person who wants to arm himself or herself for personal gain, they will find a way to do so. A serviceable firearm can be made of anything from a piece of pipe to a block of wood, or a box with rubber bands.

People own guns for a variety of reasons whether it is for self protection, robbing banks, car jacking, scare tactic or whatever. In the right hands, possessing a gun is a good thing . In the wrong hands, it's definitely not. Guns don’t kill people. People with guns kill people.

Part III: Synthesis

Whether or not America should have stronger gun laws remains a topic for discussion. Those persons in favor of stronger gun laws are basically those who have never been confronted by another person with a gun. Eighty percent of gun owners favor a three-day waiting period between a person's application to purchase a handgun and the time it is actually sold. Majorities of both the public as a whole and gun owners also approve of trigger locks, extending the waiting period for purchases at gun shows, and outlawing assault weapons (Connelly, 1999).

Although the recent shootings have drawn attention to gun control, Americans are almost evenly divided on whether stricter gun laws would actually reduce violent crime. While 46 percent of the public expected harsher laws to reduce violence, 50 percent said such laws would not have a beneficial effect on violent crime. Only a quarter of gun owners said stricter/stronger laws would reduce violent crime.

Those who oppose stronger gun control laws deny that federal policies keep firearms out of the hands of high-risk persons; rather, they argue, controls often create burdens for law-abiding citizens and infringe upon constitutional rights provided by the Second Amendment. Some argue further that widespread gun ownership is one of the best deterrents to crime as well as to potential tyranny, whether by gangs or by government.

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Those in favor of stronger firearm restrictions have advocated policy changes on specific types of firearms or components that appear to be useful primarily for criminal purposes or that pose unusual risks to the public such as fully automatic firearms (i. e., machine guns) and short-barreled rifles and shotguns.

Opponents of gun control vary in their positions and hold that gun control laws do not accomplish what is intended. They argue that it is as difficult to keep weapons from being acquired by "high risk" individuals, even under federal laws and enforcement.

In the final analysis, as with other like issues, there will always be pros and cons. Those who favor stronger gun control laws will continually lobby for this purpose, and those who feel that we have enough laws and push for stronger enforcement of the law at hand. What must always be remembered is a gun is an inanimate object. It does not breath, eat, drink or bear young. A gun on a shelf or locked away in a display case does nothing. But, in the hands of one so intent to do harm to another, it is given life and so takes life away. Guns don’t kill people. People with guns kill people.