The topic on gun ownership and control has become a controversial issue in many societies over the years. Gun ownership restrictions vary from country to country. The controversy surrounding gun ownership focuses on whether if citizens own guns it will improve their security or whether gun ownership should be prohibited for public safety. In addition other factors contributing to whether ownership of guns should be restricted or not is, trading of firearms on the black market, illegal manufacturing of firearms, the right to self defense, accidental shooting and the victims rights. This research paper provides an in-depth discussion on why gun ownership by the citizens of the United States of America should not be restricted by providing factually correct, legitimate reasons as to why the USA government should not restrict gun ownership.
Argument for Gun Ownership
Individuals have the right of self-ownership. Self-ownership stipulates that an individual can use his or her body and property however he or she pleases as long his or her actions are not violating the rights of another individual. However, opponents of ownership of guns contend that the government has a right to restrict ownership of weapons, which can be used aggressively (Sherman, 2009). They argue that if the government allows use of guns, which constitute an aggressive weapon it should also not prohibit ownership of other aggressive weapons such as missiles, nukes, machine guns and bombs. The argument does not hold water because a gun used for self-defense does not constitute an aggressive weapon. The gun will only affect criminal when used for self-defense unlike other aggressive weapons such as bombs and missiles whose effect spills over even to innocent citizens. Proponents of gun ownership only advocate for ownership of guns if they are for self-defense, thus contend that if a weapon is used for self-defense and does not infringe on rights of other citizens an individual can exercise the right of self ownership.
Contrary to the notion, that if the government was to allow gun ownership citizens would walk around brandishing their weapons, which would put innocent citizens at risk; the right self-ownership clearly stipulates that the weapon can only be used for self-defense purposes (Lott, 2010). The right to self-ownership only allows an individual to use his or her gun when there is inherent danger without putting the lives of others at risk.
Many opponents of restriction on gun ownership contend that policies prohibiting gun ownership serve to reduce crime in the society. They argue that restricting gun ownership will curb access of firearms by high-risk individuals, juveniles and, criminals. The federal policies governing ownership of firearms has not served to reduce crimes because most criminals access their firearms from the black market. Outlawing gun ownership by the government would be committing a crime against the citizens because every individual has a prima facie right to own a firearm for self-defense purposes.
The benefits of gun ownership outweigh the disadvantages, which result from ownership of guns. Impinging on an individual’s right to own a gun would be giving criminals an upper hand. Most criminals are already armed though the black market taking away the only advantage that innocent citizens have against criminals would in turn lead to increased crime rate (Moorhouse & Wanner, 2006). Criminals would have an incentive for carrying out crimes because they would be certain that their victims have no means of defense. Restriction on gun ownership would directly lead to increase of crime by disarming victims. Criminals prefer when their victim is not armed, in a situation where the victim s armed the criminal would be cautious because his or, her life would also be at risk. Criminals are not deterred by rules restricting gun ownership because the social cost of breaking a rule on gun ownership outweighs the motive of the crime.
Restriction on ownership of gun control would transfer production and distribution of weapons to the black market. In addition, law-abiding citizens would turn to illegal means of acquiring guns for self-defence. Criminals do not abide to gun control restrictions so if the government were to prohibit gun ownership they would give law-abiding citizens the incentive to turn to the black market because they also have aright to self-defense (Moorhouse & Wanner, 2006). Production of guns without a government license is illegal. Restriction and prohibition of gun ownership would only increase the incentive for illegal manufacturing of guns. Illegal manufactures would fetch more profits by selling guns on the black market. They would look for loopholes in the justice system by bribing police officers or forming cartels with government officials for supply of illegal firearms to the public. Thus, restriction of gun ownership will lead to promotion of trading of guns and corruption in the criminal justice system.
Opponents of gun ownership contend that mass shooting occur because the government has placed guns in the hands of criminals. Even if the government were to prohibit gun ownership criminals would still get access to guns through the black market (Moorhouse & Wanner, 2006). Mass shooting would still occur but it would be against defenseless citizens. In addition if the government managed to disarm criminals there are other alternatives such as bombs which have equally deleterious effects to innocent citizens. Criminals would turn to knives, bombs, fire which are just as harmful as guns.
According to Moorhouse and Wanner (2006), the argument that if the government allowed gun ownership the fire arms would end up in the hand of high risk individuals and juveniles is trivial such situations are very minimal. Opponents of guns contend that guns pose a high risk to children when in the house however, children who die of non gun related accidents are relatively more than children who die of gun related accidents which shows bias against guns. Children who die from chocking, drowning in a bathtub are more than thus who die from accidental shooting or unintended discharge of a gun. In addition, high-risk individuals for instance those suffering from mental illness such as depression and stress are more likely to commit suicide using other means such as overdosing on prescription drugs than using a gun to commit suicide.
Ownership of guns by citizens of a country helps to ensure the government does not become a tyranny. Governments that want to exercise absolute dictatorship begin by disarming the citizens to make them defenseless. According to Lott (2010), the world over mass murders has been possible in countries where the governments have prohibited gun ownership by its citizens.
Argument against Gun Ownership
Opponents of gun ownership argue that the government restriction on ownership of guns would reduce the number of guns in the hand of criminals and thus reduce crimes. Making ownership of guns illegal would help the criminal and justice system to reduce the number of guns in public hands.
Opponents of gun ownership contend that federal policies and rules have not been successful in regulation of number of guns in the public. Because of the governments inability to control gun ownership they should restrict ownership of the weopon, which is contributing to high rates of crimes in the society. Guns are so accessible to criminals giving them the incentive to use them against innocent citizens by committing heinous crimes. If the government restricted access to guns, it would reduce the rate of crimes.
Another argument against ownership of guns appertains to an individual right to self-defense. The governments interest in the safety of its citizens surpasses an individual right to self-defense. By allowing individuals to own a gun without any restrictions, the government would be putting the constitutional right of protecting the majority at risk. The right to self-ownership and self-defense does not hold water because it infringes on other citizens rights to protection.
According to Brudereck (2007), many urban homicides in the United States of America are due to the loose laws, which do not restrict ownership of guns by citizens. Further argument by opponents of ownership of guns is that presence of a gun in a household would increase the risk of death and accidental shooting to the family. A criminal who invades a home with the intention of robbery without violence when confronted by the owner with gun is likely to overpower the owner and use the gun on him or her.
Accidental shooting by owners of the gun who are not well trained to use the weapon have been n the increase over the years. This puts the life of the owner of the gun and others at risk making a gun an aggressive weapon just like missiles and bombs. Juveniles may take advantage of a gun owned by the parent to use it for criminal activities without knowledge of the parent or mass murder targeting other students and, teachers.
Opponents of ownership of guns argue that one of the functions of the government is protection of its citizens thus; individuals do not need guns for self-defense because the government is capable of defending its citizens. Placing guns in the hands of the public would be like admitting failure by the government in one of its core function, protecting the public.
Response to counter-thesis
Evidence shows no relationship between the crime rate and federal policies and rules on restriction on ownership of guns. Criminals obtain their guns from the black market. According to Lott (2010), restrictions by the government on ownership of guns would only serve to fuel illegal trade of firearms on the black market. In addition, prohibiting innocent citizens from owning guns would only serve to increase crime rate because criminals would target innocent citizens.
According to Lott (2010), a gun is a non-aggressive weapon when used for self-defense or other activities such as sport hunting and target shooting. Citizens should therefore be allowed to exercise their right to self-ownership by eliminating all restriction on ownership of guns. America’s first attempt to restrict ownership of guns failed because it was infringing on an individuals right to self-ownership.
Currently the ownership of guns in the United States of America is close to fifty million pieces (Sherman, 2009). Close to half the household in the United States of America are willing to obtain their handguns from registered firearm arm shops, register them, and receive appropriate training to use them. The argument that government-allowing ownership of guns has lead to an increase in accidents and fatalities resulting from guns is biased. The number of people who suffers from gun related accident and deaths are negligible in comparison with death and accidents due to other causes.
In most instances, the police officers respond to public out cry after five to twenty minutes of reporting an on going crime. Most crimes happen in an instant and police officers are not always around to protect the citizens. Taking the opportunity to defend themselves from citizens through denying them ownership of guns will put the lives of the citizens they are supposed to protect in danger. Controlled ownership and, use of guns for self-defense will help to deter criminals thus reduce crime in the society.
The debate for gun ownership should base on rational analysis on research by scholars that astoundingly shows no relationship between crime rate and gun ownership. The government through legislation should allow controlled ownership of guns. Individuals who want to own a gun should undergo training before being granted the permit to own and use the gun for self-defense. Restriction on ownership of guns would only serve to increase illegal trading of guns on the black markets.
Brudereck, J. (2007). Street: Support strong for gun laws: The Philadelphia mayor says loose gun control laws are part of the cause of many urban homicides. United States, Washington: McClatchy - Tribune Information Services. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/462048636?accountid=45049
Lott, J. R. (2010). More guns, less crime: understanding crime and gun control laws. London: University of Chicago Press.
Moorhouse, J. C., & Wanner, B. (2006). Does gun control reduce crime or does crime increase gun control? Cato Journal, 26(1), 103-103-124. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/195598468?accountid=45049
Sherman, M. (2009, Sep 30). Supreme Court to look at local gun control laws. Spartanburg Herald - Journal, pp. n/a. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/369090527?accountid=45049