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As United States citizens, do we have the right to bear arms? America’s growing gun culture stems in part from its colonial history, revolutionary roots, and the Second Amendment, which states: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This amendment has been under severe scrutiny in the past decade as a result of mass murders with a gun involved. It is a heavily debated topic with two very polarizing viewpoints. On one side of the spectrum, it is believed that more gun control laws would cause for less gun related violence. On the other side, it is believed that taking guns away from law abiding citizens isn’t the answer to controlling gun related crime. This can be seen as an argument between protecting individual rights and fulfilling the needs and interests of the larger community.
Taking away guns from law abiding citizens not only leaves many people without protection, it also won’t have the dramatic effect of controlling gun violence that everyone hoped for. It is easy to conclude that less guns in the possession of the public would result in less gun related violence, but is that true? The fact is criminals will find a way to obtain a gun if they want. If a criminal was already planning to hurt someone with a gun, they don’t care if it is legally obtained or not. The problem with this issue is that many focus only on reducing gun violence/murders. The general murder rate is also an important statistic because you must think about all the instances in which American citizens used guns to protect themselves. America has approximately 1.45 guns per American, or about 393,347,000 which is the highest total and per capita in the world. In 1993 there were less than one gun per American. What may be surprising to hear is that the murder rate has gone down as gun ownership has increased. The idea that more gun ownership equals more crime, or even more guns equals more mass shootings has very little evidence.
When people watch the news and see a mass-murder who used a gun it may spark anger. One may ask, “how do we keep letting things like this happen?”. Many people automatically think that with all this violence we need stricter gun control laws. The reason they believe this way is because the current gun-control laws aren’t as effective as hoped. The main thing to understand is that you can put a law into legislation for stronger gun-control, but the criminals do not care. They are criminals, if they want a gun, they will get a gun illegally. It doesn’t matter if the gun is legal or not if a criminal is using it on someone else. The act which they choose to use the gun on someone is illegal anyways so why would they care about some gun-control law. “Every mass-shooting that has occurred has been carried out against current laws that did nothing to stop it. This is not because the laws aren’t tough enough, it is because you can’t legislate behavior.” Basically, criminal activity including guns can’t be stopped by a gun-control law because “you can’t legislate behavior” as explained by Ryan Cleckner. Here is another stat to show how current gun control laws are proven ineffective. Texas’s gun control has an ‘F’ rating from the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Texas yet has seen only 6.6 percent of total mass public shootings since 2000 which was lower than expected given that it holds 8.6 percent of the national population.
On the other hand, Washington state has a ‘B’ rating and accounts for 2.2 percent of the population but 8 percent of mass public shootings since 2000. This is just another example of how gun control has failed to do its job and certain legislators believe that more gun control is the answer which is absurd. I understand that when people fight for the argument of pro-gun control they are looking for ways to combat the amount of gun related murders and violence across America. However, what defense does a law-abiding citizen have against a criminal with an illegally obtain gun. Passing strict gun control will only create more victims who are left defenseless against an armed attacker. Would it surprise you if I told you “gun free zones” are the most popular locations for mass-shootings. Probably not. What happens when all guns are outlawed, and the only ones left are illegal guns in hands of the criminals? How might one defend themselves. Adams (1996) identifies two theoretical explanations of defensive gun ownership: acute fear of crime and past victimization experiences. This is the reason many like to have a gun at home for protection. They choose guns as a means of self-defense for the same reason the Secret Service uses them to protect the president: guns stop bad people from doing bad things to good people. People think guns and automatically think about murder. But the truth is guns save lives and without them many more would be lost. “Guns prevent an estimated 2.5 million crimes a year, or 6,849 every day. Most often, the gun is never fired, and no blood (including the criminal’s) is shed.” and “Every year, 400,000 life-threatening violent crimes are prevented using firearms.” According to the Justice Department’s own statistics, 67,740 people a year don’t become victims because they own a gun. It is plausible to suspect that if more states allowed concealed carry, the number of instances of defensive gun uses would be even higher. The number of defensive guns uses doesn’t matter much to the anti-gun supporters. Whether the number is 67,000 or 2.5 million or anywhere in between, they’ll do whatever they can to dismiss defensive gun uses as insignificant. They want to focus only on the dead people lying in the street rather than those folks who use a firearm to remain standing. While trying to limit the number of guns in the criminal’s hands, you are taking them away from law abiding citizens who help the world immensely.
The idea that gun violence is the sole problem is absurd, when violence in general is the problem. “Anti-gunners often point to countries where guns are effectively banned to show how safe we would be. This is absurd. This logic seems to think that only gun-violence should be stopped.” I’m not sure why gun-involved homicide is any worse than homicide where a firearm isn’t involved. Most arguments I hear for banning guns involve decreasing gun violence and they completely ignore other types of violence that may very well increase when guns are banned. “This invites the question, was the world a peaceful place before guns? Of course, it wasn’t. However, I bet the rate of sword-involved homicide decreased when people stopped using swords. I’m not sure why the tool is the focus.” Whether it’s a “pressure cooker, a box-cutter, a fertilizer bomb, a rented Home Depot truck, or a firearm”, murders and terrorists are the problem. Not their weapon of choice. Especially when that weapon is the best defense against such murderers. As it has been stated before, “you can’t legislate behavior”. Many will speak out on their opinion to have an assault rifles ban. The only thing unique about assault rifles is their menacing name and look. The “assault weapons” for sale in the U.S. now aren’t really weapons of war. Many people mistake these firearms for machine guns capable of shooting multiple rounds of ammunition with a single pull of the trigger. The 1994 assault weapons law banned semi-automatic rifles only if they had any two of the following five features in addition to a detachable magazine: a collapsible stock, a pistol grip, a bayonet mount, a flash suppressor, or a grenade launcher.
All which are only cosmetic changes and have no effect on the way the gun fires. What people don’t understand is that you can’t walk into a gun store and walk out with a military style assault weapon (one that can fire multiple rounds with a single trigger pull). That’s because most gun dealers don’t carry the military version of the gun, you have to jump through a crazy number of hoops with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to even obtain a tax stamp that says you may purchase such a weapon (a process that takes months, if not years), and the actual versions of rifles used by the military are really expensive an unaffordable for the vast majority of prospective gun owners. They’re “semiautomatic” which is a technical term that applies to the way rounds are chambered, not to the way the guns shoot. Many handguns are semiautomatic too. Military-style rifles fire only one round for each pull of the trigger, just like a revolver, a shotgun, a hunting rifle or any other of the 300 million legal guns in America. It can be understood that making an assault weapons ban will have very little to no effect on gun violence.
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