Essay, Research Paper: Gun Control

Legal Issues

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idea of gun control and regulation is becoming more and more popular throughout
the U.S., although it may still bring up resistance among some people. Guns are
sort of a foundation of American culture. This country’s freedom was won over
bloody and “heroic” wars with guns. Guns are portrayed throughout
television, movies, and video games. Guns are a popular symbol of power,
control, authority, dominance, and can be associated with security and defense.
The role guns play in our society is a highly controversial debate. I will
support the gun control and regulatory side of this topic as a short-term
realistic goal. There are both avid supporters of the 2nd amendment guaranteeing
American citizens the right to bear arms, and there are people who strongly
disagree with the widespread use and availability of guns to youth and
criminals. Those in favor of open gun use are often motivated by the 2nd
Amendment, and the right many claim to hunt, protect the home, or for defense
against potential militias or government overthrow. The motive behind proponents
of gun control on the other hand, is to restrict accessibility to guns to
prevent violence and death in our society. My position ultimately, with
relevance to our presentations in class, is neither an attempt to persuade or
convince anyone to use guns nor to control and restrict them. From here however,
let me tell you that guns play a role of non-importance in my life, and
therefore I have sought out a reasoning that has led me to favor a world with no
guns altogether. This may sound rather idealistic or radical, but it is
necessary. Our world is in need of a profound, collective reformation where
violence and guns are concerned – particularly in the United States. This is
my long-term goal of potentiality. Firstly, the extent of gun violence is
tremendous, primarily in the U.S. among all other industrial nations. Next to
automobile fatality, gun violence is the second leading cause of death by injury
in the U.S. It should become first by the year 2003 unless something is done to
prevent it. In the early nineties for example, four states – Nevada, Virginia,
Louisiana, and Texas had trends of gun injury as the top cause of death. This
type of violence it seems is almost as epidemic as AIDS is in causing death.
That is a very scary thing to consider. ( The National Center for
Health Statistics reports that firearms have taken the lives of 35,957 people in
the U.S. in 1995. There is a 21.5% firearm fatality increase since 1985. And, of
these fatalities, suicides rank first at 18,503 people; homicides second at
15,835 people; unintentional shootings next at 1,225 people; and 394 were
undetermined. ( Now I would like to demystify several arguments used
against gun control. The first one assumes that gun control won’t stop gun
violence or crime. Most criminals get guns through legal means contrary to what
the gun lobby says to justify having a huge availability of guns. This is proven
by the Criminal Justice Research Center. They apparently surveyed that only 27%
of adult inmates and 43% of juveniles have bought handguns illegally on the
black market. On the other hand, of these inmates, 69% of adults and 55% of
juveniles obtained guns through means like retail, gun shops, private owners,
friends or family. This confirms that most guns are gotten legally through
controlled methods. ( Also, the FBI has received reports of a median
number of about 274,000 guns stolen yearly from ’85 to ’94. This points out
that the guns sold by owners and dealers are a risk to us and can be regulated
to lower crime, murder, suicide, and other fatalities. ( Is owning a
gun really a constitutional right? The 2nd amendment of the constitution says:
“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
Supreme Court made clear in its 1939 case decision of U.S. vs. Miller, that the
2nd Amendment doesn’t protect possession of a firearm unless there exists some
type of reasonable relationship in preserving a militia. Currently, the National
Guard is regarded as today’s form of militia. ( Also equally
impressive is that in all Supreme and Federal courts, since the Miller decision,
no gun control laws have been shot down on the case of the 2nd Amendment. And
particularly lower federal courts have never supported firearm possession as
being a fundamental and individual citizen right. ( Although it is
true that the constitution is a fundamental part of our history and country,
“the framers of the Constitution more than 200 years ago couldn’t possibly
have foreseen the multitude of high tech guns, their widespread availability and
the violent culture we now live in that is sadly desensitized toward injury and
death (Tampa Bay Business Journal 62).” We must all realize that “rather
than protecting us from potential tyranny – as our forefathers imagined –
guns now threaten the very survival of the nation’s citizens and communities
(Rosen 179).” I’m not against the constitution, but using the 2nd amendment
which was created during a different societal time frame, to justify gun rights,
is one of the reasons that “among the world’s 36 wealthiest nations, the
U.S. has the highest rate of gun deaths through suicide, murder and accidents
(America 3).” Do you think handguns or any firearm is a good way to defend
yourself? If so, than think again. If you keep a handgun in your house for
defending the home and family, than you are five times more likely to experience
a suicide and three times more likely to experience a homicide than compared to
those people without guns in their homes. A gun in the home is 43 times more
likely to kill a household member or friend rather than an intruder or criminal
– like a robber. Using a firearm to resist a violent assault can actually
increase your risk of injury and death. Does that surprise you now? (
What it really comes down to is that guns give us a false sense of security. Gun
manufacturers and lobbyists want us to purchase firearms and have us believe
they will protect and defend us. “We are being targeted by an industry that
wants us to join the vigilante crowd. Buying a gun, however, is an individual
solution, which only helps the gun industry turn [people’s] fears into
profits.” Make not also that a gunshot wound costs about 13,000 in health
care, 80% of which is paid by the public. The real solution is to organize and
fight for domestic disarmament. All people should have the right to be liberated
from fear. We are not free when consumers are manipulated by profit-motivated
industries. In the New England Journal of Medicine, an important study of 743
gunshot deaths done by Dr. Arthur Kellermann and Dr. Donald Reay, found that 398
of these deaths had taken place in a home where the handgun was kept. It was not
a criminal stranger who shot them, but instead family or relatives, spouses,
roommates, or themselves. Altercations within the home accounts for 84% of these
homicides. Of all 743 gunshot deaths, there were only two that occurred in homes
involving intruders killed while attempting to enter, and nine deaths justified
through police and court analysis. (95) What really justifies homicide with a
firearm? Well, a person can use certainly deadly force to defend their own life
or against bodily harm. But, to commit justified homicide, there has to be a
strong belief that your life is in jeopardy. You cannot use force with a gun to
do something like shoot someone stealing your car. Using a gun must be a last
option when all others have failed. You are legally required and obligated to
even leave your house by fleeing out a back door for instance, rather than shoot
someone who is intruding. Again, FBI reports have confirmed that out of 21,597
people murdered in 1995, 12,066 were done with handguns, and only 179 of those
were justified. This is just another alarming and unfortunate statistic we must
confront. ( Should we blame guns or people for deaths and killing?
Do guns kill people, or do people kill people? There really is no either/or
scenario. Both people and their guns are to blame. Without people, guns
wouldn’t be fired, but with guns the efficiency of killing is profoundly
increased. “The most prevalent form of handgun death in America isn’t murder
but suicide.” Other means of suicide such as knives, razor blades, gas or
pills are not going to be such an efficient and absolute killing tool. The truth
is that “handguns however, [in comparison] lend themselves well to
spontaneity.” How can human prosperity and health be promoted with the
existence of such a *censored*ed up weapon? Take this seriously. “Everyday
fifteen children in the U.S. are killed by guns”. Or what do you think about
the fact that “every year, more than 24,000 Americans are killed – whether
by homicide, suicide, or accident – with handguns (Rosen 178-179).” There is
no denying that guns are a paramount contributor of human destruction. In
attempting to control guns or eliminate their use and existence, we would find
that “most gun owners have more than one gun, and 70 percent have at least
three (America 3).” There are also “more than two million weapons churned
out by gun manufacturers every year. Add that to the estimated two-hundred
million firearms already in private hands” and it could be a difficult task to
achieve either short-term or long-term goals I have stated. That is why we must
help create some awareness and provide as much truth and information as we can
make available on the issue of firearms and violence. If I could have my way
with this health epidemic – this virus with weapons and violence, I would
create steps toward banning the manufacture, distribution, importation, sale and
possession of guns (primarily handguns and automatic rifles/machine guns) to all
citizens. Why are we taking this topic for granted? This stuff is for real!
People are really murdered in gang disputes and drive-by shootings in places
like North Portland where I was born. I’ve read “gun violence is so pandemic
that the Centers for Disease Control have identified it as the nations number
one public health problem.” The degree to which our communities and collective
population tolerates firearms, has a long lasting effect upon our future and
culture. Get this – “every twenty-four hours handgun-wielding assailants
rape thirty-three women, rob 575 people and assault 1,116 people.” These kinds
of stats blow me away. You can expect your children’s children on and on for
generations on to live in a society and world where these kind of statistics are
only growing steadily. How many voices must cry out? How much bloodshed must
there be? Come on! Those of you who think you need to rifles to hunt, could
possibly consider the idea that unless you live as a complete hermit – there
are plenty of grocery and market stores to buy meat at. And there are also
high-powered bow and arrow equipment, which is as effective in targeting and
hunting animals. They’re much less destructive too. And for those of you who
think you must have a gun to protect yourself from government overthrow or an
outbreak of war, maybe you could try living more in the present than worrying
about future events that may not be preventable or controllable. At our current
state, the government and our nation are quite stable and powerful. We are
considered by far the most powerful nation in the world, with the most extensive
nuclear arms capabilities. I think the best conclusion is in suggesting that we
look to other countries around us with lower homicide and violence rates. These
countries can provide a resourceful model for us. And we need to ask ourselves,
what is different about these places and people? How do they compare to our
culture and how can we decrease our violence and increase our peace? The places
we should look at with low gun-murder rates are Australia – 13; Great Britain
– 33; Sweden – 36; Japan – 60; Switzerland – 97; Canada 129, compared to
the U.S.’s over 13,200 murders (these figures are from 1992). As a simple
personal opinion toward a solution, “Why not try martial arts if you want to
learn to protect and defend yourself constructively?” Maybe China and Japan
have lower rates of homicide and violence because they institute marital arts
practice into daily disciplinary regime in both school and work throughout all
ages of life. They even have a much higher population density per square mile
than the U.S. does. There’s my two cents for support of a short-term goal of
gun control and regulation, and a long-term goal of firearm elimination.
Firearms are not our answer.

Bibliography“New Gun Control Initiatives”. America. Editorial: 2/20/99, Vol. 180
Issue 5, p3. Rosen, Ruth. “Domestic Disarmament: A Women’s Issue?”. The
Informed Argument. Ed. Robert Miller. New York: Hartcourt Brace, 1998. 178-181.
Sugurmann, Josh. “The NRA Is Right”. The Informed Argument. Ed. Robert
Miller. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1998. 185-190 Tampa Bay Business Journal.
“Crack Down On Guns”. Tampa Bay Business Journal. Editorial: 11/6/98, Vol.18
Issue 45, p62. (within gun facts in csgv index)
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