The Constitution, under the Bill of Rights, provides the right to security to every individual. The constitution's second amendment states that an individual can keep or bear arms, but this is subject to some limitations. Regulations can be developed to control how these arms are used, but the state and the national government is not allowed to infringe on this right.
This paper seeks to evaluate both the pros and cons of gun control. It will discuss the current laws in the USA, the reason for their enactments, any amendments and whether they were successful. However, it is not worthy that this paper supports gun control.
The National Rifle Association argues that guns are important in ensuring personal security. This association is concerned with the pushing of new legislation on gun control to be passed. It advocated for the passing a bill that will enable school principals to carry semiautomatic rifles to school and that every school should have an armed guard for security purposes.
The association assumes that these principals are willing to handle rifles. Most people keep guns just for the fun of it. Ownership of guns should be allowed only to the extent that it makes the society a safer place for living.
Despite the fact that arms offer protection to those who own them, they are dangerous if they are owned by the wrong people. If left to be owned by the public without any regulations being put in place, they can cause more harm than good.
Lack of regulations means that anyone can walk into a firearms dealer’s shop and purchase any number of arms and ammunitions without them having any license that allows them to be in possession of arms. A number of regulations have been enacted over the years to control gun ownership.
The National Firearms Act of 1934 was passed to remedy the rising crime rates at the time. Mafia groups were rampant at the time, and they caused havoc in the society. They obtained guns from dealers who supplied them at cheap prices (Spitzer).
People were prohibited from owning guns, but they still obtained them in the streets. Gun manufacturers and dealers were consequently taxed heavily on each firearm they possessed for the purpose of selling. They had to increase the prices of the firearms and in return the people on the streets could not afford to buy them. In a way, taxation worked as a way of regulating who could own guns and who could not.
Guns could still be imported from countries that manufactured them and sold them between different states. The proposers of gun control saw the need of enactment of legislation that would restrict this importation so as to reduce rates of crimes that were committed using handguns (Spitzer).
Consequently, the Federal Firearms Act was passed in 1938. It provided regulations for the importation and selling of arms interstate. At the time, the states did not manufacture their own arms thus they had to import them. It required that any person who sold firearms had to obtain a Federal Firearms License at a fee and this license had to be renewed every year.
Arms dealers were obligated to write down the names and addresses of the people who purchased guns from their premises. This was intended to make it easy to trace them down in case of occurrence of an offence using those guns. They were prevented from selling guns to persons who had been convicted previously of certain specified felonies or those who did not have a permit to own guns (Gold).
The Gun Control Act of 1968 was enacted. It provided that more dealers could sell guns, but they had to keep more detailed records than those that were kept previously (Spitzer).
Guns could not be sold beyond state lines and the person to whom guns could not be sold increased in number. As long as one was a convict, he or she wasn’t entitled to be sold to guns as the likelihood of that person using the gun in an illegal manner was high. Exceptions were made in very few circumstances where the life of that person was in actual danger and the firearm would prove advantageous for his protection.
The mentally unstable persons were also not allowed to possess guns as they are prone to being careless. Sales made through mail orders were outlawed. In the previous years, such orders could be made as long as the purchaser was above the age of twenty-one years (Doeden).
More legislation has been enacted to restrict the ownership and use of firearms. Some of them have provided for increased tax rates to those dealing in the buying and selling of guns, others provided the penalties for being in possession of guns in school.
The 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act banned importation or manufacture of assault weapons. In addition, it prohibits those under the age of majority from selling or being in possession of handguns. These laws show that it is necessary to have gun control measures as without them; the society is at a risk of being controlled by those who possess weapons such as the mafias (Spitzer).
Regulations on guns restrict possession of arms to those persons who are licensed and trained on how to handle them. The training of a person is rampant before they are issued with a firearm permit. This is to ensure that the person knows how to use such a dangerous object in the right way and for the right purposes (Gold).
When issued to persons who do not know how to operate them, guns tend to be harmful as they could go off without its owner intending it to. They also restrict the number of guns and ammunitions one can have. This is to prevent misuse of these arms by the people indulging in criminal activities (Doeden).
It is known that people who own guns tend to be irresponsible. Due to carelessness of owners of guns, legal guns have ended up taking away lives. This is because they leave their guns loaded and do not lock them before storing them. As a result, they go off accidentally and in the process kill a person in the vicinity (Gold).
This shows that even though regulations provide for legal ownership of guns, such legal owners or their children are prone to making mistakes in how they handle them. On 21st October, 2013, a student in Nevada opened fire using a gun he obtained from his parents. He shot dead a teacher and wounded two students. Solutions to keep students safe are being looked for with the state enacting laws that provide that schools should have armed guards.
A similar tragedy was experienced on the 13th day of December 2013, an eighteen year old shot at his fellow student as he was looking to punish a teacher who had earlier disciplined him. The gun he used was one his parents owned lawfully. This indicates that restrictions should be made to limit the ownership of firearms.
Many have misunderstood the provisions of the second amendment. It was made when there were few firearms in the market as they had to be imported. This meant that they were expensive, and not many could afford to own them, and this was a restriction by itself.
An overview of Laws on gun control was carried out on 4th march, 2013. Gun owners were invited to attend this meeting. A bill that would link the gun registry of Maryland and its criminal database was proposed so that criminals supposed to surrender their arms can be easily identified.
Another bill that states that any person convicted of an offence related to guns cannot get a reduction of their sentence for good conduct while in prison is in the process of being made into law. Its effect will be deterrence to the society so that no one can think of committing such a crime.
Recently, there has been a rise of anti-gun control proposers who want restrictions on ownership of firearms to be slackened. Most of them are politicians who want these bills to be passed.
In Georgia, legislation that will allow people to be in possession of guns in schools, bars and even in churches is waiting to be passed. If passed, this bill will allow guns to be possessed everywhere, be it at the bus stops, the airports or the market place.
The bill was lobbied for by the National Rifle Association, which believes that if passed, will be a historic victory for the second amendment of the constitution. The motive behind this bill is to enable citizens to protect themselves against criminals who do not need the law to allow them to own guns.
This belief is not supported by any statistics. In fact, statistics indicates that the numbers of people who die by gun are a lot even with the laws that are already in place. Relaxing these laws will mean that more deaths will be taking place as many of the people will have easy access to guns (Doeden).
A mass shooting was experienced in Minneapolis on September 27, 2012 by a thirty six year who shot dead five people. He went on a rampage because he had lost his job. Another shooting took place in April 6, 2012, where a nineteen year old went on a killing spree that was racial in nature and shot dead five black men.
These incidents are just, but a few examples of what takes place in our society that we think is safe. Thus, anti-gun control laws should not be enacted they will cause more harm compared to the good to society. The more restrictions are put on gun ownership in the country; the fewer people die due to inexcusable shootings.
The public was of the opinion that such a bill should not be passed as instead of increasing the security of the people; it will have handed the criminals the weapons with which they carry out their violence. Many churches are against the bill because allowing it will be allowing the occurrence of violence in the house of God (Doeden).
Owners of bars fear that this will backfire on them as customers tend to get violent under the influence of alcohol hence, the likelihood of the occurrence of homicide will have increased. The provision that people are only allowed to carry guns with them to bars only if they do not take alcohol is ironic as the whole reason a person goes to the bare is to drink alcohol.
The massacre that occurred in Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 14, 2012 is another illustration of what occurs if ownership of guns is not restricted. Twenty school children and six teachers were shot dead by a young man who had gone on a killing rampage for no good reason. He had also killed his mother who was still in bed before heading to the school.
This raised debates on the advantages and disadvantages of controlling ownership of guns by the public by legislation. Most of the public suggested that the reason he was able to kill was due to the relaxed regulations on gun ownership that allowed the public to own guns. The easy access to firearms enabled him carry out his agenda.
The president suggested that the legislation be made stricter so that only those who qualify to be in possession of guns can. He argued that this would prevent the occurrence of such massacres. He even presented this bill to the congress that did not pass it. Most congressmen argued that it would be an infringement of the rights of the citizens of the United States.
Proposals did not stop here. Associations that support the idea that guns should not be made easily available to the public continue to bid the government to ban high capacity magazines and semi automatic rifles. On Tuesday, March 18, 2014 gun right supporters assembled at the Statehouse of Rhode Island to oppose this bid. They said that the banning would not affect criminals but the community which needs to protect themselves against them.
The debate raised by the massacre touched on the issue of insurance of guns. Those supporting the control of guns were for the idea that guns should be insured, and the premiums charged according to the background checks carried out before the issuance of the gun or the risk that is perceived. This provision will ensure that those who come to harm at the hands of irresponsible owners of arms are compensated.
The anti-gun control proposers do not want this to be done as it would be an infringement of the rights of the people to bear arms. Insurance means an added expense that comes with gun ownership and thus will make it expensive to own one. This additional expense, they argue, will deter people from arming themselves.
This argument in a way works for those who are for gun control. If asking that there be a mandatory gun insurance will limit the number of the population in its possession, then well and good. Insurance can be used as a regulatory measure as the people who can afford to insure their guns will be few (Crooker).
Deaths at the hands of bored teenagers and disturbed persons will be reduced. Not so many of them will have access to guns as they are not people of the working class. This also means that only responsible persons come into possession of arms.
Another issue that was debated upon was the correlation between gun ownership and murder. Those for control of guns stated that the amount of murders taking place using guns were so high thus there was a correlation. Their opponents, on the other hand, stated that such a relation does not exist, and it does not matter whether ownership of guns is controlled or not.
The matter of self defense raised a heated debate. The second amendment assured the people that they would be allowed to keep guns in order to protect themselves. This opinion is usually propagated by those who do not want the state to enact legislation that is stricter (Crooker).
Those for the control of guns state that these weapons are often used for the commission of offenses instead of for defense as they were meant to when the second amendment was made. Statistics shows that the number of times arms have been used for defense to be approximately 300,000 while the number of times these have been used to carry out criminal activities is approximately 500,000 times. These indicate a deviation from the purpose for which the amendment was made. Restricting their ownership would, therefore, have a better impact to the society.
Several states have passed laws that expand rights of owners of guns. The various states allow guns in churches, college campuses and also schools. They are eager to be seen by the society as gun-friendly that they have placed so little limitation to owning guns, and there is no need for the enactment of legislation (Crooker).
The Florida House passed the Pop-Tart Bill that protects schoolchildren from punishment by their teachers when they make guns using their pop-tarts. The Oklahoma State is also considering adopting this bill for the protection of their children.
Whenever there is a massacre, legislation on gun control is always enacted. When 26 children in Newtown were shot dead by a mentally disturbed teenager, states passed several laws to restrict ownership of guns and many more to loosen these restrictions. This legislation is, therefore, not effective because before one is followed, another is enacted.
Both sides of the coin have side effects to the society. Restrictions on gun ownership may control the amounts of deaths that occur or may make the members of the society violent in their quest to possess guns, even if the possession is unlawful.
Loosening the restrictions may mean that more murders will be committed as offenders will have easy access to arms or it may mean that the public can protect itself against crimes committed towards them.
Debates on gun control do not have an end. These issues can only be solved through education, communication and understanding of the law. In conclusion, control of guns has more pros than cons thus regulations should be put in place for this purpose (Doeden).
Crooker, Constance Emerson. Gun Control and Gun Rights. Portsmouth: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2oo3.
Doeden, Matt. Gun Control: Preventing Violence or Crushing Constitutional Rights? Breckenridge: Twenty-First Century Books, 2011.
Gold, Susan Dudley. Gun Control. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish, 2004.
Spitzer, J. Robert. Gun Control. Portsmouth: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2009.