What’s Wrong with Gun Control?

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Gun control is not one issue, but many. To some people, gun control is a crime issue; to others it is a rights issue. Gun control is a safety issue, an education issue, a racial issue, and a political issue, among others. Within each of these issues there are those who want more gun control legislation and those who want less. On both sides of this issue opinions range from moderate to extreme. I believe that Gun Control hurts our society and only causes harm to those who are “good” citizens.


Guns are not for everyone. Certain individuals cannot handle a firearm safely, and some individuals choose to use firearms inappropriately. Our society has passed laws regulating the ownership and use of firearms and more legislation is being considered. Most of this legislation restricts, to some degree, the rights of individuals to possess or use firearms. Some restrictions may be necessary, but some recent legislation has gone too far. Society benefits from firearms in the hands of responsible citizens. Attempts to keep firearms away from these citizens do more harms than good.


To begin with, a definition of a responsible citizen is in order. “The citizen must be law-abiding, with no felony record, must not abuse alcohol or drugs, must not be mentally ill, must not have renounced U.S. citizenship, must not have been dishonorably discharged from the military, and must be in the U.S. legally (Day). This definition combines elements from the Federal Gun Control Act of 168 and Arizonas concealed carry law.


The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution states 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. The Founding Fathers included this in our Bill of Rights because they feared the Federal Government might oppress the population if the people did not have the means to defend themselves as a nation and as individuals (Halbrook 65-84).


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The militia referred to cannot be construed as meaning the Army or National Guard. In the words of Samuel Adams The Militia is composed of free citizens (Halbrook 6). Additionally, George Mason considered a well regulated Militia to be one composed of . . . Gentlemen, Freeholders, and other Freemen (Halbrook 61). The Revolutionary War was won with the help of An armed populace composed of partisans, militias, independent companies, and the continental army . . . (Halbrook 6). It is obvious from this that the Founding Fathers thought that society benefited from firearms in the hands of the people.


The rationale given for most modern gun control legislation is Crime Control. The Brady Bill is one example. The Brady Bill is named after James Brady, who was shot by John Hinckley during an assassination attempt on President Reagan in 181. Supporters of the Brady Bill used that incident to gain support for their gun control legislation, claiming it would reduce crime and save lives. The fact is that the background check and waiting period included in the Brady Bill would not have prevented John Hinckley from legally purchasing the handgun used in that incident. Records show that a police background was run on Hinckley four days before he purchased the revolver he used to shoot President Reagan and Jim Brady. The check showed he had no felony convictions in any jurisdiction. Neither had Hinckley any public record of mental illness (Guns 51).


An even greater shortcoming of the Brady Bill is that it only affects legal transactions. By definition, a criminal is someone who breaks the law. Criminals have many ways to obtain weapons without going through the process mandated by the Brady Bill. Two obvious examples are theft and black market purchases. According to studies only one firearm of every six used in a crime is obtained legally (Thomas 77). Since the passage of the Brady Bill, only four felons have been apprehended trying to purchase a firearm (NRA, Grassfire). In view of the facts presented, it is obvious that the Brady Bill is not an effective crime prevention tool.


As mentioned earlier, crime is not the only issue related to firearm ownership. Hunting is a popular sport and, in some parts of the country, an important source of food. On the surface, it might appear that hunting is harmful to wildlife and the environment. The fact is that the opposite is true. Wildlife biologists have found that well managed and regulated hunting programs are beneficial to wildlife. If the wildlife population becomes too large, food becomes scarce and the population starves to death. Wildlife biologists take counts of game animals in a given area and study the habitat to determine the population level it can support. Then they make recommendations to State Game and Fish officials who set hunting seasons and bag limits. Hunting is a tool used by these officials to manage the wildlife under their care (Arizona 18).


Non-game wildlife is also protected by hunters and even by firearm owners who do not hunt. Approximately 77% of the funds used to operate state Fish and Game and other wildlife agencies are derived from the sales of hunting licenses, excise taxes levied on sales of firearms and ammunition, and the sale of federal duck stamps. More than three billion dollars have been raised from these sources and used to protect both game and non-game animals (Arizona ). Firearm ownership is clearly beneficial to the environment and a good environment is beneficial to everyone, not just firearm owners.


Shooting is a relatively inexpensive activity that the entire family can enjoy. With close supervision, children can be taught to shoot. Learning how to shoot safely means learning about responsibility, and the time spent teaching a child to shoot is quality time. When a child is ready, he or she may be allowed to shoot with less supervision. When this time comes, the child knows he or she has earned his or her parents’ trust and they gain a sense of self-confidence. Sharing a hobby like shooting can bring a family closer together, teach children responsibility, and promote trust between parents and children. This is definitely good for society.


Throughout history violence has plagued the human race. Since ancient times the strong have preyed on the weak and the meek. The government has passed laws to protect society, but the violence continues. Laws attempt to change human behavior, but laws are not able to change human nature. Laws are not enough to protect people from aggression. We must allow people the means to protect themselves. Protection is a major reason that about half of all Americans own a firearm (Lester 0).


Statistics show that people who are attacked by a criminal are safer if they use a weapon to resist their attacker than if they do not resist. In addition, those who resist with a gun are less likely to be injured than those who use a less effective weapon, such as a knife (Quigley 14). Resisting crime with a gun does not always mean shooting the criminal. Statistics show that in true life instances of self-defense with firearms, firing the gun was necessary only one third to one half of the time (Quigley 1). The rest of the time the mere presence of a gun was enough to scare away the attacker.


Guns are an effective deterrent to crime. A study involving convicted felons showed that nearly 40 percent of them had decided against committing a specific crime because they suspected their intended victim might be armed (Quigley 14). In 166 the Police Department in Orlando, Florida, offered a well-publicized self-defense-shooting program to women. As a result, the rate of rape in that city decreased from thirty-six per year to only four. This was accomplished without any of the women shooting anyone or even pulling a gun on anyone. The publicity alone was enough to discourage potential rapists (15-17). Rape and other violent crimes should not be tolerated in any society. It has been shown that firearms are a deterrent to these crimes; therefore, firearms are beneficial to society.


The Brady Bill in last years Crime Bill is an example of bad legislation, but some good firearms-related legislation was also passed last year. The Arizona Legislature recognized the benefits of firearms to our society and passed a law that enables many Arizona residents to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon. There are restrictions in place to ensure that only responsible citizens are issued a permit. These restrictions cover age, criminal record, and mental competency. Applicants for this permit must pass a sixteen-hour training course. In addition, the applicant must send a copy of their fingerprints to the Department of Public Safety to be used to help the department conduct a background check (Korwin 150-151).


It is too early to determine the effectiveness of Arizonas Concealed Carry Law, but statistics show that a similar law passed in Florida in 187 has been effective in reducing crime. Between 187 and 1 murders involving handguns decreased percent (Francis). According to the National Rifle Association, the homicide rate is 1% lower, and robbery rate is 6% lower in states with favorable carry laws compared to states with restrictive concealed carry laws (NRA, Fact Card). Some people may fear that citizens with concealed weapons are more likely to commit crimes, but statistics show that only .007% of the concealed weapon permits issued in the state of Florida have had to be revoked because of a crime committed by the permit holder (NRA, Fact Card). Concealed carry laws have been shown to reduce violent crime.


The Founding Fathers of our country won our freedom with firearms. After we won our independence, the Founding Fathers included the right to keep and bear arms in the Constitution to ensure that the freedom they fought for would last. Throughout the history of this country firearms have been used to defend that freedom from both foreign aggressors and from violent criminal aggressors. Americans own and use firearms for many reasons, such as hunting, organized sports competitions, informal recreational uses, and for protection. Some legislation has been passed recently which restricts our firearm rights, and the shortcomings of these laws have been exposed. Fortunately, there has also been good legislation passed, like Arizonas Concealed Carry Law.


I recognize that criminals have misused firearms, often with tragic results, but I must point out that few individuals committed those crimes. We should punish the individuals who commit these crimes, and we should imprison those who pose a threat to society so that they do not have the opportunity to cause harm. Punishing law-abiding citizens by passing restrictive gun laws is wrong. Guns are not the cause of this countrys crime problem. Criminals are. Effective crime control legislation must control criminals, not guns. Effective crime control legislation should provide more police officers to deter crime and capture criminals, and maybe they should think about adoption of caning in the US. Effective crime control legislation should give the law-abiding citizens of our country the means to defend themselves. It should not restrict the rights of responsible citizens to own or carry firearms.


Society does benefit from firearms in the hands of responsible citizens. It is our responsibility to use them properly and safely.





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