Possession of fire arms is something which is associated, rightly or wrongly, with the American history. The Colt revolver designed by gun maker Colt almost defined the Wild West, and the American history is full of gun lovers, some of them used it to win wars and some for self defense. (Jones, 2013) Compared to many other countries, the fire arm laws in the US are liberal, and almost 40% of American households have at least a single gun in their possession. As a matter of fact, the US has more number of privately owned guns than any other country on earth. In the wake of the last year’s Connecticut school shootings, the gun debates have gained steam once again. The American constitution does allow its citizens to carry arms, but the contention point here is how much stricter or lenient should the gun laws be.
While the gun control advocates call for stricter norms to restrict gun access, the gun right advocates call for more liberal laws so that gun acquisition is within the means of every citizen. The argument put forth by gun right advocates is that, if the laws are stricter, the criminals will find a way to get their hands on firearms somehow or the other and it will be the law abiding citizens who would be rendered defenseless when faced with gun violence. John Lott, in his book ‘More Guns Less crime’ argues that allowing citizens to carry concealed guns would drastically bring down crime rates. He says “Murders were decreased by 8%, rapes by 5% and aggravated assaults by 7% when states enforced concealed –handgun laws”. (Lott, 2013)
On the other hand people in gun control camp, fear that a simple misunderstanding between individuals can erupt into a violent crime, if people carry guns with them. Particularly there are a lot of possibilities of life threatening accidents when guns are around. For example, guns misplaced in a household may fall into wrong hands such as mentally ill persons or children, which is an extremely dangerous scenario. Their argument is not just about the injuries guns might cause, but the overall insecurity it causes in the public. As Carter says in his book, ‘Guns in American Society’, “people shudder at the thought of being in a public place (a restaurant or a sporting arena), where somebody might have a concealed gun strapped to their clothes”. (Carter, 2012)
Of course, there is no easy or simple solution to curb gun related crimes. But the solution to the problem does not lie in the possession or non-possession of guns alone. The individuals of this country should address these problems at their home levels. Children should be educated to value and respect other’s lives and property, and this nurturing should be done at homes, schools, Churches and other such institutions. Another way to curb violence is to ensure that the offenders are met with swift and severe punishments. Yes, guns can cause harm, but so does automobiles, alcohol and so forth. So banning guns is not the solution. If we want to stop gun violence it is the criminals we should target not the medium. (The Spectrum.com, 2013) So, laws should aim at stopping guns reaching the wrong hands and not banning them altogether from public access.
John R. Lott. (2013). More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Gregg Lee Carter. (2012) Guns in American Society. California: ABC-CLIO
Brian Jones. (June 26, 2013). 10 Guns That Have Shaped the Course of American History.Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/10-guns-that-shaped-american-history-2013-6?op=1#ixzz2gHKZ3MEb
The Spectrum.com. (April 18, 2013).Gun control a burning debate with no easy solution. Retrieved from http://www.thespectrum.com/article/20130418/OUTDOORS/304180011/Gun-control-burning-debate-no-easy-solution?nclick_check=1