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After various incidents that have happened recently like shootings at a cinema in Aurora, Colorado and shootings at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin the issue has captured national attention. However, it remains a debatable question that whether owning a firearm confers protection against crime or, instead, increases the risk of violent crimes.
As the actual physical characteristics of firearms and their use are important to understand the role of the gun in the United States, it is also true that the significance attached to guns quite often has little relation to guns themselves. This review investigates some of the ways in which gun ownership, and gun control, has become important issue in American society.
The review could not insight upon how gun advocates and gun opponents infuse guns and gun control with ideological meaning. However, this review will provide at least a start towards understanding why proposals to regulate or prohibit firearms in the United States generate so much passion among both proponents and opponents. The review aims to examine the ideological frameworks of the American gun control debate and investigate the following questions:
Is ease of gun availability associated with murder in the United States? Do stricter laws on gun control reduce murder rate? What are the characteristic/arguments of people who are pro-gun ownership?
I found some scholarly articles related to my topic of interest. Firstly, Hepburn and Hemenway (2004) conducted their research using time series studies of particular cities and states, and for the United States as a whole. There study suggests a positive gun prevalence-homicide association. They contend that places with higher levels of gun ownership are places with higher homicide rates. Furthermore, the available evidence is entirely inconsistent with their hypothesis that increased gun prevalence lowers the homicide rate. Instead, most studies, cross sectional or time series, international or domestic, are consistent with the hypothesis that higher levels of gun prevalence substantially increase the homicide rate. Likewise, Younge (2012) contends in his article that when large numbers of guns are available in a society with massive inequalities, the likelihood is that a lot of people are going to get shot.
Miller et. Al (2002) examines the association between rates of household firearm ownership and homicide across the United States, by age groups. This study used cross-sectional time-series data from 1988ââ‚¬"1997 to estimate the association between rates of household firearm ownership and homicide. The study shows a strong connection between rates of household firearm ownership and homicide especially for victims of 5 to 14 years and 5 years and older. At the state level, the association exists for every age group over age 5, even after controlling for poverty, unemployment, alcohol consumption, and nonlethal violent crime. The study contends that it cannot determine causation, however, found that in areas where household firearm ownership rates were higher, a disproportionately large number of people died from homicide. This study illustrates that the United States has higher rates of firearm ownership than do other developed nations, and higher rates of homicide. Of the 233251 people who were homicide victims in the United States between 1988 and 1997, 68% were killed with guns, of which the large majorities were handguns (Miller et. al, 2002)
A poll conducted by ABC news and the Washington post provided data that out of 722 respondents; 29.2 % supported that stricter gun control laws would reduce violent crimes while 47.7 % supported would not reduce violent crime. Furthermore, in the opinion of respondents what would be the best way to reduce violent gun crimes in the US? Out of 774 respondents 52% reported stricter enforcement of existing laws and 29.7 % reported passing stricter gun control laws (ABC News and the Washington Post Poll, 2007). Likewise, data provided by Department of Justice in their Sourcebook of criminal justice statistics reveals that 46 % of respondent supported rights of American who own guns while 50 % supported controlling gun ownership out of the sample interviewed. (Sourcebook of criminal justice online, 2012)
Another article by Summer (2008) uses negative binomial regression models to assess the association between the Department of Justice classification of agencies conducting firearm background checks for each state in 2002ââ‚¬"2004 and firearm suicide and homicide rates for the same years from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control while controlling for age, race, unemployment, crime, income inequality, poverty, alcohol consumption, urbanization, and divorce rate. Using local-level agencies to perform firearm background checks that is effective gun control laws is associated with reduced rates of firearm suicide and homicide (Summer, 2008).
Conversely, another article disagrees with the thought that more guns equal more death and fewer guns equal less death. This assertion is directly contradicted by the studies of 36 and 21 nations (respectively) which find no statistical relationship. Overall, suicide rates were no worse in nations with many firearms than in those where firearms were far less widespread (Kates and Mauser, 2007).
The research affirms that guns are just one among numerous available deadly instruments. Thus, banning guns cannot reduce the amount of suicides. Such measures only reduce the number of suicides by firearms. Suicides committed in other ways increase to make up the difference. People do not commit suicide because they have guns available. They kill themselves for reasons they deem sufficient, and in the absence of firearms they just kill themselves in some other way (Kates and Mauser, 2007).
Another article by Smith (2002) illustrates the facts that gun control is a long-debated issue familiar to most people. Individuals' attitudes toward guns are shaped by their prior experience with firearms, especially by an individual's exposure to guns while growing up and by the prominence of guns in the local community. These formative experiences may well fix people's attitudes toward guns and gun control.
Although support for gun control is strong, it faces significant opposition, which has remained solid despite public events such as the Littleton shootings that some pundits thought would weaken pro-gun public opinion. The battle lines on gun control are well drawn and entrenched. It may be some time before there is significant movement on either side (Smith, 2002).
Moorhouse and Wanner (2006) asserts that gun control, while politically attractive may in fact be a blunt instrument for reducing crime. Effective gun control may entail significant unintended consequences. Government extensive and intrusive enough to regulate all private transfers of firearms would raise significant civil liberties issues.
Kleck and Bratton (2009) contend that support for gun control derives partly from a belief that gun control is an effective method for reducing violence, but this explanation has only limited power to account for positions on the issue. Many people favor control measures even though they think they will not reduce crime, while others oppose controls despite their beliefs that they will reduce crime. Further, support for gun control does not generally derive from personal experience with crimeââ‚¬"robbery and burglary victims are no more likely than non-victims to favor banning handguns, and the experience of being an assault victim reduces support for this policy
This review has not evaluated all the ideological issues surrounding the gun control debate; however, it does seem that guns and gun control push important thoughts for gun control advocates and opponents alike. Most of the article examined viewed gun ownership to be contributing to higher rates of crime and murder in the United States such as Hepburn and Hemenway (2004), Younge(2012), and Miller et. al (2002). On the contrary, Moorhouse and Wanner (2006), and Kates and Mauser (2007) disagree with fact that ease of availability of firearms contribute to lesser crimes. Therefore, as a result, achieving some kind of compromise that will provide a final settlement to the American gun control battle may prove impossible