Because of the widespread availability of firearms in the United States and their consequent usage in criminal activity, gun regulation has become a hotly debated topic. According to estimates, Americans own between 200 and 250 million weapons, with more than a third of them being short guns. The murder rate in the United States is approximately six times higher than in other economically developed countries, according to specialists in the field. Although the number fluctuates from year to year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation maintains that firearms are responsible for more than 70% of murders in the United States (Bruce-Briggs 38). In 2000 for instance, more than 52 percent of the recorded homicides were committed using handguns, and another 19 percent using other guns. This persuasive essay argues that the US government should implement gun control laws to combat the country’s rising crime rates.
In the debate over gun control, the distinction between gun crime and gun violence is crucial. In many cases, these categories often overlap. For instance, in 1988, there were about twelve-thousand-gun homicides. However, homicide is both criminal and violent, thus the label ‘violent crime’. Nonetheless, not all gun crimes can be considered violent crimes: for instance, in an armed robbery where an individual is hurt are criminal but not violent. Further complicating the issue is the fact that violent crimes have better documentation, and thus perceived more widely, than nonviolent crimes. This occurs because law enforcement authorities, thus the better investigation and documentation, more seriously investigate violent crimes, especially homicide. On the contrary, reliable and clear information concerning the number of guns crimes without shooting is relatively difficult to obtain (Vizzard 67).
In addition, not all gun violence emanates from criminals. In 1988 for instance, there were more than 17,000 cases of gun suicide in the country. Indeed, suicide is a violent act, but it is certainly not a class of criminal activity to may people. In the same year, there were over 800 unintentional yet deadly shootings, a form of gun violence that affects the majority of people. In essence, gun violence includes both gun murders and unintentional shootings, as well as gun suicides. It’s worth emphasizing that the majority of people associate gun murders with crime, but they don’t think of accidental shootings or suicides with guns as crimes (Kleck and Britt 251). Enthusiasts on both sides of the gun control issue have a tendency to blur the line between noncriminal and criminal gun violence in order to promote their own agendas, often exploiting gun violence statistics to highlight the bad consequences of gun crimes.
Antigun campaigners, rather than utilizing data on gun crime, most often utilize statistics on gun violence to persuade people that gun control legislation is necessary. According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, 30,708 Americans died as a result of shooting in 1988. The number given is correct, however it includes data on gun suicide, gun murder, and unintentional shootings. Since a result, it may mislead people about the consequences of gun crimes, as more than half of those classified as “dead from gunshot” were either unintentional shooters or committed suicide. Opponents of gun regulation, on the other hand, may use alarming statistics about gun violence to convince people that firearms are necessary for self-defense against armed criminals. As a result, individuals who are persuaded by this belief are likely to reject any proposal to implement gun control legislation. Pro-gun activists, for example, believe that women should be able to defend themselves with firearms. As a result, they may mention the number of women murdered by firearms, but fail to mention that the majority of sexual assault and rape victims do not come into contact with armed criminals with guns (Vizzard 76).
While pundits may mislead or confuse the audience with data on gun violence and crime, the figures are critical in the gun control discussion. Both sides dispute about how often individuals use firearms for self-defense vs how often they use them to commit crimes. The most significant tenet of the gun control movement in America is that restricting the access to guns would significantly reduce crime rates. Of course, this particular stance has faced consistent challenge from pro-gun advocates. Organizations such as the National Rifle Association reiterate that guns are the most effective means of personal defense against criminals. According to them, gun ownership deters crime rather than cause it. According to an expert in the field, the use of guns against violent burglars and criminals by private citizens accounts for the most consequential effects for criminals than legal actions like incarceration or arrest (Bruce-Briggs 42). The commentator argues that there are more than 2.55 million cases of defensive use of guns in America.
Despite their critical, and sometimes bitter debate, both advocates of gun control agree on the fact that criminals must not own guns, but the sides disagree on how or if the goal is achievable. Comparing the high rate of gun homicide in America compared to other developed nations, advocates of gun control turn to the gun control models of these countries to design their policy. According to Professor Carter, a social scientist, most developed nations have strict national laws on guns. According to the professor, these countries stipulate that guns must have registration, owners must have licenses, and that owners must ensure utmost security in transportation and storage of guns. In America however, such laws came into play only recently in 1993 with the Brady Law, which merely instituted for background screening in efforts to identify ineligible gun purchasers (Kleck and Britt 267). The law has faced critical criticism from both divides of eth debate.
For instance, gun control advocates argue that the Brady check system is very permissible as compared to the Canadian or eth European systems as far as eligibility is concerned. They further argue that there is need for a future legislation that closes the numerous loopholes in the Bray Law that assist criminals to purchase guns. The most eminent loophole is the famous ‘gun show loophole’, which allows private, unlicensed gun seller to overlook the check system. On the other hand, organization such as the NRA argues that the Brady Law has fundamental flaws. According to the organization, it is incorrect to compare the US with other developed nations as the country already has so many guns in circulation (Bruce-Briggs 43).
In this regard therefore, instituting a check system at such a late stage is practically lees significant, as the law only affects distribution of new guns. Consequently, closing the ‘gun show loophole’ using further legislation will have little effect as criminals have access to the millions of guns already in the black market. Both divides present strong and valid arguments, and the enactment of the Brady Law gives room for some compromise. However, the effects of easy access to guns in the public outweighs the importance of self-defense in the long run, as more guns in public circulation may result to more crime. It then follows that the federal government needs to institute legislation concerning gun control (Vizzard 102). This might possibly bring their continued endeavor to solve this problem to an end. Despite this, it is important to understand that it needs devotions and individual understanding of the positive outcome.
- Bruce-Briggs, Barry. 2002. “The Great American Gun War.” The Public Interest 45:37-62.
- Kleck, Gary and Britt, Patterson. 2004. “The Impact of Gun Control and Gun Ownership Levels on Violence Rates.” Journal of Quantitative Criminology 9:249-88.
- Vizzard, William J. 2000. Shots in the Dark: The Policy, Politics, and Symbolism of Gun Control. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.