Gun control

Presently our nation is faced with quite a few controversial issues. One of which I feel particularly strongly about, is gun control. I do not support the notion of stronger gun control in America. Gun control breeches our constitutional rights as citizens, leaves us defenseless against criminals and government, and increases crime rate. Gun control is based on the misguided conception that the average American is too clumsy and ill-tempered to be trusted with weapons. Only through the blatant abrogation of explicit constitutional rights is gun control even possible. It must be enforced with such violations of individual rights as intrusive search and seizure.

It most severely victimizes those who most need weapons for self-defense, such as minorities and women. How would a 5-day waiting period help a stalking victim? How would banning affordable firearms protect the poor from neighborhood criminals? Would prohibiting females from carrying a gun aid in their escape from a rapist? Would keeping your gun unloaded and locked up save you from a home invader? Would keeping you from owning semiautomatic firearms stop a criminal from getting any gun he wants? What about limiting how many guns you can buy in a month? These are only a few of the questions that can be asked in any discussion on the subject of gun control.

Statistics show gun control costs lives, as evidenced by cities which enforce near total bans on firearms ownership. This is because criminals don’t obey gun control or any other kind of laws leaving law abiding citizens to be rendered defenseless. This is an exert from a research library archive with 154 similar entries for the state of Georgia alone. The Augusta Chronicle in Augusta, GA 08/23/2002: “American Rifleman Issue: November, 2002. A 90-year-old Augusta, Ga., resident shot and killed an intruder during an attempted robbery and assault. Gilbert Klemann, a retired doctor, had an argument at his home with a handyman who had worked on the doctor’s house. The handyman, George Epperly, demanded the return of some tools he claimed were left at the house. Fearing he was about to be conned, Klemann left his house and drove around the neighborhood for a while hoping the man would leave. When he returned home, Klemann discovered Epperly inside, ransacking his bedroom. During a struggle, Epperly pushed the doctor to the ground and demanded money from him. Klemann handed over his wallet with $35 in it, but the handyman wanted more. When the intruder came at Klemann again, this time holding a glass jar of coins, the doctor pulled a .22-cal. gun from his pocket and shot Epperly in the chest.” (Carter, 2002). The facts of this aspect speaks for itself this is only one benefit of armed civilians.

It also indicated that civilian gun ownership does deter some crime. Three-fifths of the prisoners studied said that a criminal would not attack a potential victim who was known to be armed. Two-fifths of them had decided not to commit a crime because they thought the victim might have a gun. Criminals in states with higher civilian gun ownership rates worried the most about armed victims. Gun control advocates note that only 2 burglars in 1,000 are driven off by armed homeowners. However, since a huge preponderance of burglaries take place when no one is home, the statistical citation is misleading. Several criminologists attribute the prevalence of daytime burglary to burglars’ fear of confronting an armed occupant. Indeed, a burglar’s chance of being sent to jail is about the same as his chance of being shot by a victim if the burglar breaks into an occupied residence (1 to 2 percent in each case). (Hibbits, 2002)

We also need to consider the constitutional right for citizens to bear arms. As quoted by one of the forefathers of this nation Thomas Jefferson: “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.” In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson also stated: “We hold these truths to be Self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Since the right of self-defense is unquestionably one of the inalienable rights referred to in the Declaration of Independence, there is no need to submit the right to keep and bear arms (which is, after all, the embodiment of the right of self defense) to adjudication–and possible elimination–by the courts. We cannot depend on the courts to tell us we do or do not have the right to keep and bear arms. We have the right. It is part and parcel of the inalienable right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” There is something severely wrong with any suggestions of laws that impliedly accepts the proposition that the courts have the legal and moral authority to rule that people do not have the right to keep and bear arms. (Carter, 2002)

The gun control debate definitely poses the basic question: Who is more trustworthy, the government or the people? Many people trust their government. But a government is simply a collection of people, some good, some bad, who may disobey or change the laws of the country. The current U.S. government may seem benign, but we call all agree that right now there are laws that the majority of people don’t agree to yet they have to be followed. Evidently the concerns of the people are not being addressed now as they were in prior years during the spirit of the laws. Imagine what it will be like about ten, twenty, or thirty years from now. The world may change drastically. And like us, generations to come may only have those constitutional rights promised by the founding fathers of this nation. Throughout history we can view situations where the governments power became the civilians pain. Germany is one classic example, possibly the most scientifically and culturally advanced nation on earth in the 1930’s, imagine that in a few years their government would gas and cremate by the millions its own citizens and those of other countries. In this century governments have systematically exterminated more citizens than have died in war. The Soviet Union–20 million; China–20 milion; Nazi Germany–13 million; Cambodia–1 to 2 million; Turkey–1 to 1.5 million; Uganda–300,000; Guatemala–100,000; other Latin American countries–thousands. (Hibbits, 2002). Living in the safety and comfort of present-day America, many people are naive about the dark side of human nature, but those who study history are not. One man who didn’t confuse humans with angels: “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in their government.” –Thomas Jefferson

With more widespread American gun control, the number of new outlaws would certainly be huge. Prohibition would label as criminal the millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens who believe they must possess the means to defend themselves, regardless of what legislation dictates. Assume half of all current handgun owners would disobey a prohibition and that 10 percent of them would be caught. Since the cost of arresting someone for a serious offense is well over $2,000, the total cost in arrests alone would amount to $5 billion a year. (Benard, 2001). Assuming that the defendants plea-bargained at the normal rate (an unlikely assumption, since juries would be more sympathetic to such defendants than to most other criminals), the cost of prosecution and trial would be at least $4.5 billion a year. Putting each of the convicted defendants in jail for a three-day term would cost over $660 million in one-time prison construction costs, and over $200 million in annual maintenance, and would require a 10 percent increase in national prison capacity. Given that the entire American criminal justice system has a total annual budget of only $45 billion, it is clear that our economy cannot afford it.

Few debates have been as dominated by emotion and misinformation as the one on gun control. Perhaps this debate is so highly charged because it involves such fundamental issues. I personally stand behind the notion that any call for more gun restrictions or for bans on some or all guns are calls for significant change in our social and constitutional systems.