Essay, Research Paper: Gun Control

Legal Issues

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The debate over gun control has developed into a very complicated issue. Several
different groups have suggested limiting the use of guns and others have
proposed to supporting free gun use. On one side, people who use some form of
gun control imply that guns are responsible for too many deaths and injuries in
the United States. They propose that laws be passed to make guns more difficult
or impossible for ordinary citizens to own. On the other side are those people
who oppose all or nearly all forms of gun control. This paper will propose three
different issues to argue against the element of gun control. First, we need to
control the people who use the guns, not the guns themselves. Second, that gun
ownership is a constitutional right granted by the United States Constitution.
Finally, the fact in the decrease in crime. One of the major arguments against
the theory that gun control would save lives is that although two-thirds of all
homicides are committed with firearms, firearm controls would have no effect on
homicide, because “human nature is what it is” (Nisbet 170). Even if guns
disappeared from the crime scene, criminals would replace them with knives,
clubs, axes, or even fists. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. One
statement favoring this position, made by James D. Wright, says: Even if we were
somehow able to remove all firearms from civilian possession, it is not at all
clear that a substantial reduction in interpersonal violence would follow.
Certainly the violence that results from hard-core and predatory criminality
would not abate by very much. Even the most ardent proponents of stricter gun
laws no longer expect such laws to solve the hard-core crime problem, or even to
make much of a dent in it. There is also reason to doubt whether the
“soft-core” violence, the so-called crimes of passion, would decline by very
much. Stated simply, these crimes occur because some people have come to hate
others, and they will continue to occur in one form or another as long as hatred
persists...If we could solve the problem of interpersonal hatred, it may not
matter very much what we did about guns, and unless we solve the problem of
interpersonal hatred, it may not matter very much what we do about guns. There
are simply too many other objects in the world that can serve the purpose of
inflicting harm on another human being. (Nesbit 171) It is said that if
murderers were deprived of guns, they would find a way to kill with other
weapons. The basic argument for gun control is that crime would decrease, but
the root causes of crime, in most cases, is that of “interpersonal hatred,”
the disliking of someone for one’s own personal reasons, which must be
considered when choosing a side for or against gun control. Even the most
effective gun control policy would not totally eliminate homicide; this argument
could be criticized for not dealing with the concept of “interpersonal
hatred” (Nesbit 175). Many gun-owners agree that those who are promoting gun
control are misinformed. These people have probably heard myths, exploited
through repetition and mistaken for the truth. One of those myths is “the only
purpose of a handgun is to kill people” (NRA 5). To contradict this statement,
an estimated 75-80 million privately owned handguns are used mainly for hunting,
target shooting, protection of families, and other legitimate and lawful
purposes (Newton 24). Most gun owners can be found skeet shooting, deer hunting,
or polishing a gun collection. However, these owners are also concerned about
their family's protection. All of those who own guns for these reasons have the
support of the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA is composed largely of
hunters, gun owners, and sports enthusiasts who stand firmly in their belief
that Americans have a constitutional right to own firearms guaranteed by the
Second Amendment. The NRA’s 3.5 million members, including women and non-gun
owners, believe the NRA to be a bastion for “freedom fighters” (“Gun”
37). NRA leaders plan to continue their fight to stop any and all gun control
legislation in its tracks. Anti-individual rights crowds accuse the NRA of
claiming the Second Amendment guarantees guns for all persons–including
criminals–and all weapons–including weapons of war. However, the NRA has
supported laws to prohibit gun ownership by those convicted of violent crimes,
and for decades, they have promoted and helped pass tough penalties to keep
those who misuse guns in prison where they belong (LaPierre 17). With the
exception of guns processed by criminals, Ex. NRA President, Joe Foss, describes
his group’s convictions this way: “I say all guns are good guns. There are
no bad guns. I say the whole nation should be armed. Period” (Landau 39). When
asked about the Second Amendment, the battle is “to retake the most precious,
most sacred ground on earth,” says NRA Executive Vice President, Wayne
LaPierre, “This is a battle for freedom” (“Fight” 29). Another myth is
that of “The majority of Americans favor strict new additional federal gun
controls” (NRA 2). Scientific polls indicate that most people oppose the
costly restrictions of firearms, the distribution of power to police to decide
who should or should not own guns, and the decision that they, as citizens, must
rely on self-defense from criminals. More than ever, politicians are clamoring
to restrict America’s constitutional right to own guns and the right to
self-defense. Yet, Americans, individually, as armed citizens are the best
deterrent to violent criminal attacks. Collectively, Americans, as an armed
law-abiding populace are the best protection against the taking-over of America
by criminals (LaPierre 28). John Adams, a member of the NRA himself, was quoted
as saying, “Arms in the hands of citizens may be used at individual
discretion...in private self-defense” (NRA 27). Professors James Wright and
Peter Rossi researched a study of criminal acquisition, and found that 81
percent of 1800 criminals agreed that the “smart criminal” will attempt to
find out if a potential victim is armed. The reaction to fight back or defend
oneself is instinctive of human nature (Baimbridge, par. 7); therefore, we
shouldn’t need studies to show us the truth about guns and the basic concept
of self-defense. Obviously, it is not in the best interest of criminals to
attack victims who are armed and ready to defend themselves. Wright and Rossi
found that 39 percent of felons admitted to aborting a crime because the victim
was armed, 34 percent were scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed
victim, and 74 percent of felons felt that burglars avoided occupied dwellings
for fear of being shot (Baimbridge, par. 9). Criminals are clearly afraid of
private gun owners who choose to defend themselves, and as criminals, they feel
more free to commit crimes when a citizen’s right to own a gun has been
infringed. The right to self-defense and the right to use firearms for defense
of self and family are the cornerstone of individual rights in the U.S.
Constitution (LaPierre 27). Yet another myth, “Gun control reduces crime,”
(NRA 25) is either believed or not believed by almost every citizen in the
United States. Each side claims to have objective evidence to support their
side. Gun control politics have grown to an intense stage in the past few years
due to the ever-growing fear of crime.
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