“The gun is the only personal weapon that puts an 80-year old retiree on equal footing with a 20-year old gang banger or a 110-pound woman with a 250-pound mugger!” (Anon.). This quote summarizes the basic reason behind the legalization of personal firearms in many societies around the world. Allowing people to own guns and giving them access to information on how to use them, gives such people the ability to defend themselves regardless of the inadequacies stemming from old or young age, gender, physical ability, occupations or any other socio-economic predisposition (Wheeler, 20). Allowing people to own firearms promotes a more civilized society. Sociologists have repeatedly said that there are only two ways people deal with each other: reason or force. If someone wants to compel another to do something, they can choose to convince them through persuasive argument or force them to cooperate by threatening the other person with physical harm. When someone carries a firearm for defense purposes, the people they meet are compelled to deal with that person using reason and not force. Legalization of guns puts all people on a platform where they are suspicious of each other and, are, therefore, likely to deal with other using reason, non-violence, respect, non-intrusion and other ways that promote healthy social interactions.
The phrase “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” as used by musicians, rappers and poets shows great reasoning on why people should be allowed to own guns. The fact that people own personal guns, doesn’t translate to increased murders in a place (Crooker, 34). When a crime is committed using a firearm, it is a question of morals and failure in the society. People through their authorities need to focus more on the morals and values of its citizenry (Crooker, 35). Issues to be looked at include the role of the media in glorifying violence and disrespect fir the law. For instance in societies where people are inclined to music genres such as rap, hard rock and others that seemingly glorify violence, usage of guns and disrespect for the law, there are increased fatal shootings. The media plays a vital role in influencing people to behave the way they do. Wheeler advises that the legalization of guns in such a society should be followed by massive campaigns on proper usage of private firearms, economic empowerment and other socio-economic interventions to prevent people from misusing firearms (24).
Firearms are not the only weapons that can be used for murder. Thousands of items of items such as golf clubs, baseball clubs, knives, metal bars, electric wires, broken glass, bed sheets and pillows have all been displayed in courtrooms around the world after they were used to commit murder or cause violence. It is escapism to shift the blame of increased murders and violence on firearms (Ik-Whan, et al, 42). Instead of shifting the blame to legalization of firearms, it is reasonable to examine and address societal shortcomings such as family breakdowns, use of drugs, depression, lack of proper communication among individuals and other socio-economic pressures that can cause people to rise up against each other (Ik-Whan, et al, 42).
Firearms in a society increase the levels of social interactions in that society. This is so because the more people feel secure and protected, the more they are likely to venture out and interact with other people (Young, 21). If one has a personal firearm, he feels secure to attend dates, family outings, movies, sporting events and any other social gathering. This is so because the person does not fear being confronted or harmed by a thief, mugger, rapist or any other person who may attack with malicious intent because the person has the ability to defend him/herself fully. Picture a naïve young man who wishes to attend a movie theatre where he plans to meet the girl of his dreams but fears to do so because the movie theatre is located in a gang-infested place! The possession of or lack of a firearm may be the determining factor to the man attending the movie. Societies that are characterized by increased social interactions are happy, healthy and sustainable.
In any standard society, restrictive gun laws punish the innocent and honest citizens. This is so because, criminals still find ways to arm themselves and attack the innocent people. According to sociologists and psychologists, people with criminal intent and mind set cannot be deterred by the mere outlawing of guns to private citizens (Young, 24). Such people exist in any society and in case they are restricted by law to own guns, they will still find illegal ways to acquire the guns or they can resort to using other weapons for criminal intent (Kevin, 34). When the laws deny honest people the rights to own guns they put such people at the mercy of criminals (Wheeler, 22). In this line, the authorities might state that they have increased security officers or patrols in a given society, but this is never enough and criminals always have a way to terrorize innocent non-armed civilians.
The legalization of firearms presents a solution to societal menaces such as serial or spree killings. In 2007, a gunman entered a church in Colorado Springs, shot and killed two girls. Before the gunman could shoot any other people, a former police officer stationed as a volunteer security guard shot the man and wounded him fatally. The incidences of serial or spree killings that have been reported have occurred in vulnerable and unarmed populations such as school children or people in a church. The incidences of serial killing, hostage situations, terror attacks and other situation where people are confronted using firearms by gunmen come down in societies where the civilians have rights to own guns (Kevin, 35). Although this is debatable, the legalization and use of firearms has a huge potential to keep societies safe and free from terrorization by dangerous and armed criminals.
Guns laws are restrictive enough to ensure that their licensing results in a safer society. Each year millions of people use guns to save their lives and to defend themselves against rapists, murderers, muggers and the like. In less than 2% of self-defense cases, a gun is fired while in 98% of the cases, showing a gun to a potential assailant was enough to dissuade the attacker from their action (Choice reviews online). Private firearms work more in favor of the weaker defender or victim and not the stronger attacker (Ik-Whan, et al, 43). Since there are tough laws against assault and murder, it is only in rare cases that someone will be draw his/her gun and shoot someone. Moreover, guns are licensed to sane people who have attained a certain age. In addition, when people licensed to own guns, use them wrongly, they have the guns confiscated and they face criminal charges. These measures are enough to dissuade people from using their guns wrongly (Crooker, 34). The society should be provided with information about guns such as how to fire, how to prevent accidental firings and how to use guns for self-defense.
Gun rights are an issue of great constitutional debate in the US and many people know that they have a constitutional right to own a gun. Many people know that the second Amendment of the US constitution guarantees citizens the right to own a gun. In part the law states, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed” (US Const. Am. 2). The people are also highly literate and conversant with their constitutional rights. As such, any laws against the ownership of firearms are met with intense opposition. The US media also sensitizes people highly on their rights and updates them regularly on any proposed changes. There are usually intense debates on controversial issues that touch on human rights such as gay rights, abortion, euthanasia and gun control. As such, the average American believes that he has a right to a gun, a right to use it for self-defense and also a right to be protected from the wrongful use of firearm owners.
The right for people to own guns improves security which in turn improves the economy and the social status of the society (Kevin, 38). This is so because when people are secure, investors are more likely to flock to that place. The setting up of businesses to a place secures jobs for the locals and also provides other local investors with an opportunity to start new complementary businesses. The overall effect is an improvement in the socio-economic lives of the local people. Americans have for a very long period of time owned guns and this perhaps has contributed to the country’s wealth and improved democratic space.
Ownership of guns gives people equal constitutional rights. Since all people are allowed to own guns, then they can consider themselves as equals before the law. In some countries, only security officers and very rich people are allowed to own guns and carry them around. The exclusion of many people from owning guns puts them at the mercy of the few who own the guns (Kevin, 39). For instance, if guns were so expensive that only the exceedingly rich could afford them, there is a chance that a good number of guns will be in the hands of drug barons, bank robbers among many other criminals who have amassed stolen wealth (Young, 23). In their private capacities, the security officers have been known to harass people, extort money and valuables, attack innocent people, rape, and commit many other crimes using firearms. Legalization of gun laws and putting in place constructive measures helps to harmonize and maintain peace between security officers and the ordinary citizens (Young, 25). There is mutual respect between the civilians and the security agencies because each can attack the other. There is a chance that a criminal’s rights to own a gun may lead him/her to murdering an innocent police officer but there have also been numerous incidents where rogue police officers killed innocent and unarmed people.
Although much has been said in support of gun rights, there should be massive control of the same. The words “trigger-happy” have been used regularly in reference to fatal shootings that could not have occurred if the conflicting parties did not own guns. There have also been incidents of “accidental shootings” where someone was trying maybe to load a gun, learn about it or simply dropped it and it went off and shot someone innocent (Wheeler, 23). In addition, increased ownership of guns also opens up an opportunity for criminals to own guns which they can use to terrorize people. These incidents and scenarios are the downside of loose or non-restrictive gun laws. Although, this scenario is real, the advantages of people having the right to guns outweigh the threats posed by wrongful gun use.
The debate on gun control and gun rights has raged on for quite a while now. The benefits to be reaped from expanded gun rights outweigh the threats posed by increased gun ownership. Expanded gun rights help improve social interactions by improving security of individuals and, therefore, giving people a sense of security and freedom to attend social places and occasions. The right to own a gun does not translate to increased crime because there are many other items that can be used to commit murder and/or crime. Crime is a social problem that can be addressed by fixing socio-economic issues such as drug use, unemployment and family breakdowns. Gun rights also protect the lives and properties of the innocent and honest people in the society. Such people are empowered to defend themselves and their property. Private guns can also be used to prevent the escalation of devastating incidents such as serial or mass shootings such as the ones that have occasionally occurred in schools, churches and other social places. People in the US are also very knowledgeable on their rights and they know that the second amendment assures them of the right to gun ownership. Although there is the threat that expansion of gun rights could lead to millions of guns being used wrongly, the laws put in place can act as adequate measures to ensure that people use guns for self-defense and not for any other purpose. Legalization of guns puts all people on a platform where they are suspicious of each other and, are, therefore, likely to deal with other using reason, non-violence, respect, non-intrusion and other ways that promote healthy social interactions.
"Encyclopedia of gun control and gun rights." Choice Reviews Online 49.05 (2012): 49-2442-49-2442. Print.
Crooker, Constance Emerson. Gun control and gun rights. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2003. Print.
Ik-Whan G. Kwon, Bradley Scott, Scott R. Safranski, Muen Bae The Effectiveness of Gun Control Laws: Multivariate Statistical Analysis. American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Vol. 56, No. 1 (Jan., 1997), pp. 41-50.
Kevin, Brian. Gun rights & responsibilities. Minneapolis, MN: ABDO Pub., 2012. Print.
Wheeler, Samuel C.. "Gun violence and fundamental rights." Criminal Justice Ethics 20.1 (2001): 19-24. Print.
Young, Mitchell. Gun control. Detroit [Mich.: Greenhaven Press, 2007. Print.