Gun Control

Gun Control

Introduction
The debate between the fighters for the gun rights and their opponents lasts for last several decades. It has become an object of political speculation, one of main themes in mass media and the subject of concern of social organizations. The main theme of debate is the influence of firearm ownership on the crime rates. Different sides of the conflict argue about the question to what extend gun control policy can influence crime rate. Actually, this debate has much deeper roots. Those, who stand for their rights to own a firearm, state that this right was proclaimed by the founding brothers and it is reflected in the Constitution. “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.” (Second Amendment to the Constitution)
In the countries where gun ownership is allowed the questions about the types and kinds of legalized gun appear. Gun control proponents organize committees and demonstrations. Their opponents get great support from the National Rifle Association (NRA). Both sides used different techniques to attract people to their side. Attracting celebrities and famous people to their sides has become an important and meaningful weapon used by both sides. The Virginia Tech massacre has given a new push to gun debate. Proponents of gun control gave this argument as a reason to prohibit gun possession. I do not think that modifying the second amendment can help to resoles this situation. I agree that some regulations for the gun owing are necessary but they should not violate human rights especially those, which are guaranteed by the Constitution. In my paper I will try to find the correlation between the gun control legislation and the crime rate.
Gun Control – two different views on the subject
Proponents of the gun control legislation see gun household ownership as the reason of increase of violent crimes, suicides and accidents connected with arms. They state that gun possession increases probability of becoming the victim of crime and at the same time creates probability of committing the crime yourself.
In the US full-automatic guns are legal in most of the states but the owners have to pass a lot of stages before they obtain the permission to have this kind of gun. Every person, who wants to possess an automatic weapon must pay tax, must obtain approval for the purchase from the local sheriff, than he has to submit his fingerprint the ATF, undergo criminal background check and than wait for several months for final permission. Taking the weapon from one state to another is also complicated by obtaining special permissions. All these strict rules do not stop people, who want to possess firearms, though. Statistics show that the number of people who want to possess guns increases with every year. There are a number of states that have prohibited the sell of full-automatic firearms. In some states only semi-automatic weapons can be sold and bought. You need to meet all legal requirements to pass criminal background check and to fill in some papers in order to get the permission to possess this kind of arm.
Both sides give their arguments and it is worth listening to both sides to make the right conclusion.
Those who stand for legislation of firearm possession stress on the defense of freedom as one of the main issues. They state that gun control was one of the signs of totalitarian states and things like this can not be accepted in the democratic state. Giving the right for the arm possession only to special organizations, which represent the state power; it deprives the citizens’ rights and makes them defenseless in front of the state abuse. Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and the number of Communist countries give us perfect examples of such a phenomenon. Opponents of gun legislation advocates state that there is no causal relationship between the gun possession and the level of the democracy in the country. They state that there are a number of countries, such as Canada, Australia, Japan and the Untied Kingdom that have gun control but are considered to be democratic. Even more, gun possession was legalized during the beginning of Third Reich reign.
Advocates of the gun ownership legalization give the right to fight-defense as one of their main arguments. The right to defend you in the measures defined by laws is a constitutional right of each individual. By their opinion gun possession gives citizens better opportunities for self-defense. Some researches found causal correlation between gun possession and the number of violent crimes. Gun possession reduces the number of violent crimes (Lott, 2000). This means that armed defense can be regarded as an allowable self-defense.
The defense of the property was one of the reasons for gun possession legislation. Advocates of this possession put forward the argument that firearm could help to protect houses from robberies and invasions. This is partially true but at the same time firearm possession has one negative effect which has almost weighed down all positive effects. This negative consequence is an increase of domestic violence and the use of firearm during domestic conflicts.
Those who are against gun control give a lot of arguments to support their point of view. They admit that much or less, but still gun control laws have existed in the US for the last 200 years. But they believe that society has a tendency to evolution and the growth of moral standards and values of each individual proves unnecessity of gun control in the future. They count on the second Amendment, which proclaims the right of people to keep and bear arms. Those who stand for this point state that any types of guns contradict constitution. They believe that gun control laws will defeat the liberty, guaranteed by the Second Amendment, and thus, will create threat for all other liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. People who stand against gun control state that gun legislation can not guarantee the reduce of the crime rate but at the same time creates threat to the population as it makes people defenseless in from on the armed criminals. Opponents of gun control state also that firearm is not the only weapon which can kill people. Cold steel, such as knives and other weapons can be used for killing people but we can not prohibit the use of all kinds of weapon. They stress on the fact that if the person wants to commit the crime, he or she will find means for it despite any gun control laws. Opponents of gun control laws put forward the thesis that only people kill people, but not any kind of weapons do. This is why it is stupid to look for the root of the problem in the weapons used for killing. So, gun control laws are very unlikely to have any positive effect on the crime rate (and statistics prove this) but people deprived of their rights to defense themselves can suffer because of such laws. Opponents of gun legislation stress on the constitutional right of each individual to protect himself and they believe arm possession to be one of the means of self-defense. Another big group of reasons put forward by those who do not support gun control legislation is expressed by the hunters. People, who like hunting and even earn living by it, will definitely suffer because of gun control restrictions.
Movement in the support of gun control has become especially active during last several years. Mass media heated the public interest to this problem and the number of tragedies, when innocent people became the victims of firearm use provoked intensive movement in the support of gun control. It is necessary to listen to the arguments of the supporters of gun control, as each opinion must be heard. First of all they don not believe that the right to bear firearms is reflected in the Constitution. They also state that unskillful use of firearms creates more danger to their owners than protects them. The rate of the people who became accidental victims of firearms is too high, they state. They believe that gun bearing leads to the increase of suicides, accidents and violence rates. Proponents of the gun legislation also state that the use of a firearm is very often conditioned by the necessity. Using firearm against an unarmed criminal is not legal and using it against the armed criminal is senseless in the most of the cases. Supporters of the gun control also state that it is the state’s function to defend its citizens and bearing arms should be the function of the police. They emphasis that this variant was put down as the draft for the Second Amendment, later changed, though and that this very variant should be considered the right one. They don not believe that using firearms could be a good way of protection against crime as it creates more danger.
Gun control proponents also believe that gun control legislation can create fewer possibilities for the criminals to obtain arms.
Proponents of the gun legislation often give statistics that shows that one of the main reasons of children death because of firearms is an accident, which results careless use of arms. Statistics also shows that the probability of suicide using the gun is five times higher in the houses where there is firearm. (Freed 231).
Proponents give facts of the accidents where firearms had been used. Lott (1998) states that they have a tendency to exaggerate the results of use data in their favor. Even in the cases when the information given is correct there is no direct prove that any gun control regulation reduces crime rates, gun accidents or suicides. This is evidence that gun control, at least the way it is presented now proved to be ineffective and useless. Lott analyzed the report about gun control statistics published by the National Academy of Sciences and came to the conclusion that: “the academy’s panel couldn’t identify any benefits of the decades-long effort to reduce crime and injury by restricting gun ownership. The only conclusion it could draw was: Let’s study the question some more (presumably, until we find the results we want)” (Lott 74). He managed to trace one more interesting tendency in the results of the report. It turns out that gun bearing even reduces the crime rate. This conclusion became absolutely unexpected for the members of the research panel and all the results show that right-to-carry laws reduce the crime rate and have positive effect. Lott expressed sharp critics to the members of the National Academy for their relatedness to admit the unexpected results of their survey.
Opponents of gun control give very optimistic statistics. They state, that “the 31 states that have “shall issue” laws allowing private citizens to carry concealed weapons have, on average, a 24 percent lower violent crime rate, a 19 percent lower murder rate and a 39 percent lower robbery rate than states that forbid concealed weapons. In fact, the nine states with the lowest violent crime rates are all right-to-carry states. Remarkably, guns are used for self-defense more than 2 million times a year, three to five times the estimated number of violent crimes committed with guns”(Kellerman 468).
Gun control restrictions often involve the implementation of long waiting period before obtaining the permission to have a gun. Those, who stand for gun control state that this period reduces crime rate. Several statistic surveys taken by different researches (Lott, Kleck) did not find any correlation between these two factors. In other words, the waiting period has no influence on the crime rates.
The Virginia Tech massacre was a push to a new phase of debate about gun control. The Virginia Tech massacre is a great tragedy, which happened on April 16, 2007. The shooter was Seung-Hui Cho, a South Korean with the US permanent resistant status who had moved to the United States at the age of eight. In the year 2005 Virginia special justice declared this Korean student to be mentally ill but his parents had hidden this fact and explained his strange behavior with the help of autism. Cho’s unstable emotional and psychological state was obvious while he was in middle and high school, he had speech problems and his behavior was not always adequate.
He was invollved in a number of accidents being at school, icluding harassing, stalking and others. Being a student of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Unviversity in Blacksburg, Virginia, United States Cho considerd to be a “loner”. Some investigaters of Virginia Tech tragedy suppose that this accident was caused by Cho’s break with his supposed girlfriend, Emily Hilscher. In the course of investigation there was found Cho’s suicide note and between the first and the second shooting attacks he gave NBC News a package. This package contained photos, videos and manifesto where he compared himself with Jesus Christ and showed his hatred to the wealth (Kurz 43).
The Virginia Tech massacre was divided into two attacks and all in all there were 61 victims: 32 persons were killed and 29 wounded. Among these 32 persons there were 27 stundents and five faculty members. This accident is an example of horrible mass shooting in the US history of modern time. The gun control issue has burned with a new power after this accident.
Gun control restrictions often involve the implementation of long waiting period before obtaining the permission to have a gun. Those, who stand for gun control state that this period reduces crime rate. Several statistic surveys taken by different researches (Lott, Kleck) didn’t find any correlation between these two factors. In other words, the waiting period has no influence on the crime rates.
Argument about low crime rates in the countries with strict gun control is one of the most favorite reasons of gun control promoters. It’s true that the criminal rate is lower in some countries. It’s also true that these countries have gun control laws but there is no direct correlation between these two facts. The number of research has shown that gun control legislation has no influence on the crime rate in these countries. Crime rate in these countries was comparatively lower if to compare with the US. Such countries, as Israel or Switzerland have low crime rates. At the same time gun owning is legalized there. This proves on more that that gun possession has no influence on the criminal rates as both Switzerland and Israel "have rates of homicide that are low despite rates of home firearm ownership that are at least as high as those in the United States" (Kellerman). All these arguments prove that crime rate does not depend on gun possession. Modifying the second amendment will not change the situation. If the person wants to kill somebody, he or she can find the ways to buy guns illegally. Situations like Virginia Tech can not be treated by prohibiting to possess guns.
Conclusion
Gun control is loudly debated in political, social and religious circles. Gun control has a lot of proponents and opponents and they all are sure in their righteousness and give convincing arguments to their favor. This question is so important because it goes far beyond the safety of the citizens. It deals with the rights and liberties and those who stand against the gun control refer to the Second Amendment, which guarantees the right to bear arms. So the problem deals with constitutional issues and the debate is about the Second Amendment. I believe that finding some compromise could be the best solution to the problem. First of all, it’s necessary to face the facts and see that statistics show that crime rate and gun possession has no correlation. From the other side, it’s necessary to make people aware of the danger bearing firearms can have. The government should prove its citizens the right for self-defense in the measure guaranteed by the constitution and the citizens should decide if to use this right or not.


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