On the 14th day of December 2012, one Adam Lanza, a 20-year old young man shot dead twenty children and six members of staff at an elementary school in Sandy Hook, a village in Newtown. The shootings at the elementary center took place after the gunman had killed his own mother back at their Newtown home. Upon the arrival of the first responders, Lanza committed suicide by putting a bullet through his head. The incident, which has since been described as the second most lethal in the history of the united states after the infamous Virginia Technical Massacre, served to fuel the energy of the opponents in the controversial gun debate. The debate, on whether or not private individuals should be allowed to own guns has been a primary political issue in the United States for a noticeably long time. While the opponents to the proposal that, individuals should be allowed to own guns point at such incidences as the Sandy Hook killings, the proponents cite self defense as their principal argument. Whether or not guns should be possesses by private individuals, is a decision governed by the gun control laws of a state (Carter 69). This paper seeks to explain gun control and the difficulty of obtaining gun licenses in the City of New York.
Gun control refers to a set of laws and policies that restrict the ownership and possession of firearms by private individuals. Such restrictions and laws vary from one state to another depending on the public policy of such states. While some jurisdictions allow some predetermined individuals to own guns, others have laid a total ban on the ownership of guns. In New York, people are allowed to own guns only if they hold a license permitting them to own guns. Obtaining such a license is one hectic task considering the technicalities involved. The process of obtaining a gun license is quite involving as far as time is concerned. The process is one bureaucratic procedure that discourages people from applying for the license (Magoon 78). To start the process, one must obtain an application from the clerk of the county, after which they are fingerprinted. The fingerprints are sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for criminal clearance. After such clearance, the applicant may be required to attend safety lessons, which involve much paperwork. It is after such safety classes and training that the applicant is permitted to possess a gun. Renewing the license has been described as one serious expense.
It is as well difficult to obtain a gun license in New York considering the requirements involved. Many may not qualify since most of the requirements are subjectively determined. For instance, the restrictions state that should have no cause for denial of the license. This is an exceptionally subjective statement considering that the clearing officers may fail to embrace objectivity in determining that which qualifies as a cause for denial of the license (Lott 116). Other requirements include mental record as well as criminal history. This is to say that a person that has been arrested for whatsoever reason cannot be licensed. Additionally, the authorities fear the occurrence of crime. The gun control laws are meant to keep crime rates on the low. There is a close relationship between gun ownership and crime.
A study by Martin Killias covering twenty one countries revealed in 1993 that there was, indeed, a direct correlation between gun ownership and homicide. The relationship between homicide and gun ownership was identical to the relationship between gun ownership and suicide. Eight years later, in the year 2001, in a study covering a wider scope Martin Killias established that there was as well a direct relationship between gun ownership and assault against women. The study, as well, indicated that the ownership of guns was associated with more killings of women than men (Spitzer 123). Similarly, gun ownership and possession has been linked to high rates of domestic violence. Such violence has been found to result in deaths. The direct relationship between gun ownership and mortality rates has contributed to the serious difficulties in the process of obtaining and owning guns.
Much as the proponents of gun ownership have cited such valid reasons as self defense and community policing, it is clear that gun control should be emphasized in the state of New York. Such control is likely to minimize crime incidences, as well as reduce insecurity and suspicion. Since guns owned by private individuals are used for such felonies as robbery with violence, drug trade and general hardcore crime, the authorities have resorted to tightening the requirements and general process of gun ownership (Magoon 41). For this reason, many requirements have been added to the bureaucracies. Such incidences as the Connecticut school shootings have contributed a great deal to the gun control laws. The reactions to the recent tragedy, which is still under investigation, have served to emphasize the need for gun control. The federal government is of the view that if a state elects to issue gun licenses, it should restrict the areas in which the bearers of the arms can walk around with such firearms.
Carter, Gregg L. Guns in American Society: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture, and the Law. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO, 2012. Print.
Lott, John R. More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun-Control Laws. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2000. Print.
Magoon, Kekla. Gun Control. Edina, Minn: ABDO Pub, 2008. Print.
Spitzer, Robert J. Gun Control: A Documentary and Reference Guide. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2009. Print.