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Gun Control: Pros and Cons

People are entitled to have different opinions about the issues or policies affecting them. To prevent any deadlock, especially over the policies affecting the entire country, legislators need to reach an agreement partly favoring all parties. One of such controversial issues in the US is gun control. Thus, the society is divided into two groups in terms of their attitude to gun control: those who are for using guns and those who insist on increasing gun control policies. Gun control is a burning issue affecting the American people. Recently, there have been several mass shootings, which have brought the issue to the limelight again. With every side faithful to their arguments, it is up to each citizen to make a decision when it comes to gun control. Even though some people believe that gun restriction helps in preventing crimes, the current gun control policy is not effective as proved by persistently high number of gun-related crimes. This essay discusses pros and cons of gun ownership and provides rationale for allowing the public possess guns.

Gun control means developing regulations with the main objective to prevent people from owning guns. Gun ownership has always been associated with crime. However, the question should be whether there is any connection between the two notions. Do guns really lead to an increase in crime? If so, will placing gun restrictions facilitate a decrease in crime rates and protection of the citizens? Such questions need to be answered to get an insight into what should be done regarding guns. When it comes to guns, the question should not be whether to oppose or support gun control but who is allowed to own guns and under what conditions. In the US, 88.8 percent of citizens possess a gun, which is with the highest per capita gun ownership in the world. Additionally, about 22% of Americans own more than one gun. Historically, there have always been a high number of guns in America. Guns were first used in American colonies as hunting tools; then they were utilized for protection, and, finally, as weapons during the American Revolutionary War. Promotion of gun ownership in the United States would mean that citizens have the right to protect themselves using their guns. Therefore, the government should allow full ownership of firearms to its citizens.

The first reason why people should have full ownership of firearms is that it is the right guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the Constitution. The Second Amendment provides the public with the right to possess guns. It also says that people’s right to possess firearms should not be infringed and a well-regulated militia is a necessity for any free state. People in the US have owned guns even prior to passing the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment protects the country from imposition of stricter gun control policies. It therefore gives the citizens the right to possess guns and use them to protect themselves and their homes. In order to protect the liberties of the US, such as the freedom of religion, speech, and press, among others, people need to be allowed to possess firearms. This right can prevent the government from instilling different regulations and restrictions that would encroach on the liberty of the country. Most Americans do not trust their government after the reports that it has been secretly spying on its citizens. After revelation of such unethical actions of the government, social media platforms such as Twitter and Google have put up firewalls to protect themselves from any form of spying. Firewalls act as another protective measure for liberals apart from guns. Liberals arm themselves to prepare for the risk that the government might eventually abolish their rights one by one, which cannot be done without firearms. From such a perspective, the government’s advocating for stricter gun control policies is viewed as a threat to the public liberty. The constitution does not offer any means to enforce rights, but only acts as a guarantee of the rights granted by the Constitution. It is therefore the role of the public to protect any rights by owning guns, which might be otherwise restricted by the government. For this reason, the public should be allowed to own firearms.

People who are against guns also view gun control policies as being necessitated by the Second Amendment to the Constitution. The Second Amendment does not give American citizens an unlimited right to guns. Historically, gun control laws existed long before the Second Amendment, namely since colonial times . Some of these gun control laws include criminalizing the transfer of guns to various members of population, such as Catholics, Native Americans, slaves, and indentured slaves. There were also laws regulating storage of gun powder. For instance, storage of loaded guns in homes around Boston was prohibited. Lastly, there were also regulations that allowed door to door surveys to keep count of the number of guns owned by the citizens. Historically, different cases have shown that the Second Amendment does not give the right to possess or carry a weapon in whatever manner and for whatever purpose. There have been longstanding restrictions on owning firearms by certain groups of people or carrying firearms in certain places, such as schools or governmental buildings. The Act of June 9, 2016 by the US Ninth Circuit ruled that the right of the citizens to carry a concealed weapon has never been protected by the Second Amendment. This ruling makes it clear that the there is a need to restrict gun control policies.

It has been observed that the Constitution does not stop the government from violating the rights of its citizens. This can be seen by the spying of the public by the National Security Agency (NSA). Edward Snowden leaked evidence that the government had been illegally spying on the public. The government denied this information and defended themselves by claiming that it was not doing anything criminal. They were, however, infringing on the privacy right guaranteed by the Constitution. Such evidence means that the government can never be trusted as it might not follow the Constitution completely. Therefore, the public should be ready to the possibility that the government infringes most of the rights of its citizens. Guns are therefore a measure to ensure the liberty of the citizens, which is capable of keeping the government from infringing any rights of the public. It is therefore necessary for the public to have complete firearm ownership.

Another reason why the public should have full ownership of firearms is that gun control restrictions and policies do not prevent crimes but gun ownership can. A study conducted in 2013 stated that the weapons ban that acted between 1980 and 2009 did not have a significant effect on the murder rates in the US. On the contrary, states that had restrictions on carrying concealed weapons had higher murder rates that were related to guns. On the other hand, although in the 20th century, gun ownership in the US doubled, murder rates went down. Therefore, it is evident that there is no association between guns and crime. It is proved by a saying: guns do not kill people. It means that gun ownership does not necessarily mean an increase in the murder rates. It is people living in a specific area who determine the crime levels. John R. Lott, the author of “More Guns, Less Crimes: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws,” argues that states with the largest gun ownership also have the lowest rates when it comes to crimes. Additionally, a survey conducted by Pew Research suggests that 57% of people believe that owning a gun can protect them from being victimized. Consequently, the journalist John Stossel explained that offenders do not obey the law. If victims do not have any form of protection, offenders do not expect any retaliation from them and thus end up having an easy time during such an ordeal. He adds that if guns are outlawed, then only outlaws will have the guns, whereas average citizens will not be able to protect themselves from criminals. Therefore, citizens should be allowed full ownership of guns.

In contrast to the idea that gun control does not deter crimes, restrictive gun practices do deter crimes from happening. Between 1999 and 2003, there has been a total of 464,033 gun related deaths, 58.2% (270,237 deaths) of them were suicides, 37.7% (174,773 deaths) were homicides, and 2.2% (99,823 deaths) were accidental deaths. The majority (66.6%) of the total number of homicidal deaths were resulted from guns use. As for suicides, guns were the cause of 52.2% of deaths. In general, firearms were ranked the twelfth in the list of causes of death. Thus, gun use leads to higher mortality than such diseases as liver cancer and hypertension. In addition, the rate of firearms-related deaths was also higher than the rate of deaths caused by drowning or fire. Additionally, guns possession is a risk factor for homicides in the US. In other words, guns and homicides have a direct relationship. It can therefore be deduced that if there are a lot of guns within the population, more people are likely to end their lives with a shot. Therefore, if the government develops stricter gun control policies, there would be fewer homicides. Consequently, a report by Neyfakh suggests that states with higher gun ownership have an almost twice as high death rate from gun suicides as compared to those having a lower gun ownership level. Furthermore, it was added that people who committed suicide were seventeen times more likely to have firearms in their homes than the people who have not committed suicide. Therefore, it is clear that if there were protective laws in place to restrict the ownership of guns, then the number of deaths related to guns would reduce drastically.

Banning or providing stricter gun control policies does not necessarily mean that the rate of violent crimes will reduce. For instance, the Second Firearms Act of 1997 banned owning, buying and selling handguns to the general population in the UK. The act was introduced after the 43-year old Thomas Hamilton walked into a school and shot sixteen children aged six years and below and their teacher. This has come to be known as the Dunblane massacre. Therefore, the UK can be used as a case study to see if having stricter gun control or having a total ban can indeed deter offenders from being committing crimes. In the UK, the rate of intentional homicides in 1996, the year of the Dunblane massacre, was 1.12 per 100,000 people. The legislation came into force in 1997 and resulted in a slight rise in the rate of intentional homicides (1.24 per 100,000). In 1998, the trend was the same with a rate 1.43 per 100,000. In 2002, the rate of homicides rocketed to 2.1 and has since fallen to about 1.23 in 2010. From this case, it can be deduced that the number of homicides as a result of guns has substantially gone down. On the other hand, murder rates in the country have increased, which means that criminals used other tools to commit crimes. Therefore, it would be a fallacy to claim that the high murder rates are a result of a few people having guns. As a matter of fact, homicide rate in the UK today is higher than it was when guns were legalized in the country. In 2005, there were 765 murders reported in the country, most of which were committed with knives, blunt objects, strangling of victims, fires, and poison. The restriction on gun ownership, and sale stopped massive shootings but did not decrease crime rates. Therefore, even with strict gun control policies, there is no way to reduce the rate of crimes involving sharp or blunt objects and other types of homicides, such as strangulation. It can therefore be concluded that having stricter gun control policies does not deter crimes. On the contrary, people should be allowed to own guns to be able to protect themselves from criminals.

The country’s liberty is dependent upon the freedom of press, which cannot be restricted without having a loss. It is similar to making an analogy between democracy and two wolves and a lamb who vote for what to have for lunch. In this analogy, liberty is seen as an armed lamb contesting the vote of the two wolves. The premise of restricting the freedom of press can be applied to any other freedom. It has now become an issue that assault rifles should be prohibited as well as the amount of ammunition that a single person should possess should be limited. The proponents see limitation of ammunition as a move that can drastically reduce deaths caused by firearms. Fully automatic firearms have been a contentious issue for law makers. In several states, automatic weapons and ammunition are not limited and thus available to all civilians. Civilians have to pay some fee to be allowed to own these automatic weapons. For instance, North Carolina allows automatic weapons such as machine guns for home defense or for hunting. The reason is that the state considers any restriction of guns use or a limitation on the amount of ammunition that a civilian should possess as unconstitutional. To compare, California allows having semi-automatic weapons but does not allow firearms that have more than 10 rounds at a specific time. Additionally, assault rifles are prohibited by the restrictions for ammunition. The limit for ammunition concerns up to 50 caliber firearms unless one possesses a special license that allows possessing cannons but not using them with real ammunition. This debate is set to continue with its core being the Second Amendment’s definition of ‘a well-regulated militia’. Proponents of gun control argue that people having firearms should be well-trained. However, most gun owners train themselves during their free time. Additionally, if any changes are made to the Second Amendment, then those propagating stricter gun control policies could not have any other lines to cross. They would continue to interpret the Second Amendment as they see fit, thus providing stricter gun controls each time until no more guns would be available to the citizens. Therefore, the civilians should be allowed to have control ownership of the guns to prevent instances of violating the Second Amendment.

The United States has experienced several mass shootings over the recent years. Most of them were carried out using semi-automatic and fully automatic assault rifles as well as high rounds of ammunition. According to a research conducted by Follman, Aronsen and Pan from Mother Jones, three quarters of firearms used in mass shootings between 1982 and 2012 were legally purchased. Additionally, the research says that high-capacity magazines were used in at least half of these 62 mass shootings. In cases where high-capacity magazines were used, the death toll rose by 63% and the injury rate rose by 56%. It means that being equipped with semi-automatic and automatic rifles, and high-capacity magazines, an offender turns into a killing machine. Additionally, the use of high-capacity magazines such as the 30-round clips or the 90-round clipsis used to compensate the limited accuracy of people using them, hence maximized the chance to harm people. Therefore, adoption of stricter gun control policies can limit availability of automatic and semi-automatic assault rifles to the civilian population. Additionally, stricter gun control policies mean that the high-capacity magazines would be regulated; hence the number of deaths would be reduced drastically.

Taking into account the above-mentioned arguments, it can be concluded that any attempt to restrict or regulate the use of firearms would be a violation of the Second Amendment. Imposing restrictions on the type of firearms or the amount of rounds to possess is considered as an infringement of the Amendment. Once these gun control policies are adopted, then it would be impossible to stop restrictions that will follow. Introduction of the first restriction would make that the Second Amendment to the Constitution would lose its meaning. Additionally, restrictions on firearms would give too much power to the government, thus increasing its chance of becoming a tyranny. Therefore, to prevent any violation of this amendment or even giving the government absolute power over civilians, the latter should be allowed full ownership of firearms. In addition, provision of the citizens with such right would facilitate maintaining liberty in the United States.

In conclusion, one of the controversial issues in the US has been gun ownership. There are several reasons why civilians should be allowed full ownership of firearms. First, it is their right guaranteed by the Second Amendment. Second, stricter gun control policies would pose a threat to the liberty of the country. Additionally, stricter control policies do not result in lower crime rates. Offenders use other means, such as sharp and blunt objects, to commit murders, or strangle their victims. This means that restricting gun ownership would not protect civilians from offenders. Finally, any form of restriction means a complete loss of the right to possess guns. Therefore, if restrictions are introduced, then there would be no way to stop them, which would ultimately lead to the total ban of gun ownership for citizens and increase the government’s power. Consequently, to prevent absolute power of the government and protect people from offenders, civilians should be allowed to own guns.

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