Gun Control

The idea of gun control and regulation is becoming more and more popular throughout the U.S., although it still brings resistance by a lot of people. This country’s freedom was won over through bloody wars with the same guns that protect us. Guns are portrayed throughout television, movies, and video games. The role guns play in our society is a highly controversial debate. Guns are a symbol of power, control, authority, and dominance and can be associated with defense. There are both avid supporters of the 2nd amendment guaranteeing American citizens the right to keep arms, and on the other hand there are people who strongly disagree with the widespread use and availability of guns to youth and criminals.

Those in favor of open use of gun are often motivated by the 2nd Amendment, and the right they claim to hunt, protect the home, or for defense against potential militias or government overthrow which is highly unlikely in the U.S. The motive behind proponents of gun control on the other hand, is to restrict accessibility to guns to prevent violence in our society. My position ultimately, with relevance to my selected topic of this essay (Gun Control), is neither an attempt to convince or persuade anyone to use guns nor to restrict them. From here however, let me tell you, being a student, guns play a role of total non-importance in my life, and therefore I have sought out a reasoning that has led me to favor a world I and my family lives in with no guns altogether. This may sound rather idealistic or radical, but it is necessary considering my reasoning. Our world is in need of a profound, collective reformation where violence and guns are concerned particularly in United States. Firstly, the reach of gun violence is sort of beyond imagination, 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 really done about it. In the early nineties for example, four states – Nevada, Virginia, Louisiana, and Texas had trends of gun injury as the top most 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. ( Isn’t this enough to point 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. ( 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 really protect possession of a firearm unless there is 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 deaths by guns through suicide, murder and accidents (America 3).” Do you think handguns or any firearm is a good way to defend yourself, keeping in mind all the other physical ways by which we can protect ourselves, if so, than think again. If you keep a handgun in your house for defending your 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 with no 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. What it really comes down to is that guns give us altogether a false sense of security. Gun manufacturers and lobbyists want us to purchase firearms and have us believe they will protect and defend us. Lobbyists like Charlton Heston the president of the National Rifle Association for years have argued that the 2nd amendment guarantees people the right to bear arms. “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. 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, 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. Quarrels 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) 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. Using a gun must be the last option when almost all of the 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. According to a 1990 Guns-Free School Zone Act, a boy was charged in San Antonio for carrying a gun at school. The charges were dismissed just because the lawyer argued that the act was unconstitutional and the Congress had no authority over public schools but the state did. But the boy was convicted for six months for violating the law pushing the case to the Supreme Court where the Congress was proved wrong as it exceeded the federal jurisdiction. 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. If there are no people, guns wouldn’t be fired, but with guns around the household the efficiency of killing is increased profoundly. 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 inefficient and absolute killing tool either. 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” 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 most important contributor of human destruction. In attempting to control guns or eliminate their usage and existence totally, we would also 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 quite difficult task to achieve either short-term or long-term goals I have stated but everything is possible till we keep trying. That is why we must help create some serious awareness for people around us and ask for their help to help us out in return to cut down the usage of firearms and spread the “message”. If people like me could have our way with this virus with weapons, I would create ways towards banning the manufacturer, distributors, importers, sellers and possessors of the smallest of firearms (primarily handguns and automatic rifles/machine guns) to all citizens. Why have we been taking this topic for granted for so long now? This stuff is very real and right in front of us to ignore it! People are really murdered in gang disputes and drive-by shootings in places like North Portland. I’ve read “gun violence is so widespread 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 and our country’s future and culture. Get this – “every twenty-four hours handgun-wielding assailants rape thirty-three women, rob 575 people and assault 1,116 people.” You can expect your children’s children on and on for generations to live in a world where these kind of statistics are only growing at a rate which is unimaginable. How many more voices must cry out? How much more bloodshed must there be? People, who think they need rifles to hunt, could possibly consider the idea that unless you live totally as a hermit – there are plenty of grocery stores and meat shops to buy meat at. 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. Keeping in mind the September 11th 2001 attacks by the so-called “Muslim” extremists we are considered by far the most powerful nation in the world, with the most extensive nuclear arms capabilities. The best conclusion is in suggesting that we take some time and try looking around at other countries around us with much lower violence rates. We cannot be so blind to not to consider these countries as resourceful models for us. And we need to ask ourselves, what is making these rates and people different from ours? How do they compare to the American culture and how can U.S. decrease the violence and increase peace? The places U.S. should look at with low gun-murder rates are 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). A simple personal opinion towards a solution, why not try martial arts if you want to learn to protect and defend yourself constructively? As you can see China and Japan have lower rates of homicide and violence, that’s 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. But still we consider firearms as our way out of protecting ourselves. Is this really the answer to the speeches, campaigns and all those efforts towards a peaceful world?