Do states that permit citizens to carry firearms have higher or lower crime rates?

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The topic of people being able to carry a gun has gained popularity in recent years, as the number of states that allow it has grown. Texas, South Carolina, and Arkansas, for example, encourage people to own handguns. The biggest concern is whether the implementation of the gun control policy results in a decrease or rise in crime rates. Supporters argue that people require firearms for self-defense, which is a fundamental right.

Those who oppose it, however, contend that the states have a well-organized military that is responsible for the citizens' welfare. They claim that allowing citizens to carry guns contribute negatively to public safety. This essay will be based on the thesis statement: enabling citizens to carry guns leads to lower crime rates. It will, therefore, analyze scholarly views concerning the issue and come up with a conclusion.

Arguments For

Vermont is one of the five states that are ranked as the safest states in the U.S. The major contributing fact about its safety is the fact that its citizens are allowed to carry guns for self-defense. The laws governing carrying of guns in this state are more interesting since the citizens are not put under any probation period, they are not asked to pay for them to possess the guns, and they do not have to seek for permission, (Cohen et al. 19-29). The safety in the state is mainly because most citizens have cheap access to personal firearms. Studies have shown that four out of every ten citizens own a firearm. Most states that allow citizens to do so claim that the citizens use the guns for protection and also for recreational purposes. The citizens, therefore, use the guns in cases when their security is under threat, which leads to saving more lives. Most people enjoy shooting, and they, as a result, use the guns as a recreational tool. Although some people may misuse them, supporters claim that not every citizen abuse their guns. And in cases of abuse, they can always trace the owner of the weapon. There are clear laws guiding citizens on how to use their guns, and the consequences of misuse are dire. In fact, they are advised to use it as a last resort. Cases of crimes that involve misusing of the guns have been reduced through strategic measures taken by authorities. For instance, laws were passed in Florida requiring owners to keep their guns out children reach and also keeping them unloaded in 2010. This reduced the deaths of children under the age of fifteen years through shooting by 11%, (Kovandzic et al. 66). Studies focusing on North Carolina and Florida have shown a reduction in crime rates after the citizens were allowed to carry guns for self-defense. This is because criminals fear attacking citizens who are armed and would prefer to operate in states whose citizens are not authorized to carry guns around. This has led to reduced crime rates in such states. For instance, Florida has recorded a reduction in murder cases by 52% in 1987, which was attributed to the fact that citizens started carrying guns for self-defense, (Joong 20).

A study conducted by Clinton Justice Department showed that there are 2.5 million cases in which citizens use guns for their self-protection every year in a law abiding manner. This means that there are 2.5 million aborted crimes every year by allowing citizens to possess guns (Donohue 20-24). These records would have been showing similar cases of rape, robbery or murder in a year if the citizens were not in a position to protect them. States are even encouraged to pass laws that allow students to carry guns to schools. This would lead to fewer crimes in campuses. Clinton Justice Department claims that citizens kill more criminals than police if they are allowed to possess guns. This is because they use the weapon for defense instantly on the occurrence of crimes or attacks. This is more efficient than having the citizens to call the police which may take more time. However, the study did not overrule the importance of the police force in helping to keep the states secured. However, allowing the citizens to carry guns around increased the safety. Police arrest criminals and put them in jail expecting that the punishment will make them change. They only shoot in rare cases when the criminals fail to cooperate with them. In most cases, such offenders are usually released after some time through corruption means or after completion of their jail term. In most cases, the criminals perform worse crimes than they had to dine before as a way of revenging. In contrast, a citizen would rather kill a criminal than arresting them when they encounter cases that threaten their self-security. By doing so, the number of criminals eliminated by the people is higher than that eliminated by the police, as a result reducing the crime rates. According to Crime Prevention Research Centre, the number of citizens carrying self-defense guns is indirectly proportional to crime rates. The researchers recorded the number of citizens in possession of guns to have risen from 4.6million in the year 2007 to over 12.8 million in 2012. At the same time, the number of crimes reduced from 5.6 killings per 100,000 people to 4.2 per 100,000 people, (Lott et al. 20-33). This is about 25% reduction in crime rates. This shows that possession of guns by citizens has tremendous positive results.

Arguments against

People who are against the idea claim that guns are a threat to human security. They are hazardous since they increase the severity of losses that are associated with criminal activities. If thugs attack a citizen and at the same time they attack back using their guns, the criminals always tend to harm them more since their security is also under a risk. This is not the case with when the citizen is not in possession of the weapons since in most cases they are likely to “cooperate” leading to less loss. Guns do threaten not only the public security but also individual’s security. Relationships between human beings do not always remain healthy. In most cases of anger, for instance, a fighting couple, people tend to have a longer social distance and can harm each other. Many reported cases of partners shot each other but later regretted their actions. If citizens are not allowed to carry guns, then such incidents would be reduced, (McDowall 75). Psychologists claim that there are better ways of handling a two-sided conflict, other than the use of guns. Education systems that instill ethical behaviors, dialogues, medical attention, among others can be used (Hemenway et al. 51). The primary reason why people carry guns around is to protect themselves from both known and unknown enemies who would want to harm them. Carrying a gun around is not the right solution to such conflict since it only leads to more harm. People get hurt in the process of defending one’s life while others end up being killed. This only increases the rates of murder and other crimes. Policies restricting the use of guns are not always effective since victims come up with ways of evading the consequences, which in most cases leads to more crimes such as the elimination of witnesses.

An article published by The Atlantic online newspaper claimed that allowing citizens to carry guns around leads to approximately 30,000 deaths every year in America (Lott et al. 2013). Half of those deaths comprises of suicidal cases and accidental shots. The suicidal cases can be solved through medical attention if the victims do not have access to guns. On the other hand, an accidental shooting occurs in most cases because citizens possess little knowledge on how to use the guns. There is less training on how to use the weapons which in most cases leads to many cases of accidental shooting. The law restricts the use of the firearms to only the last resort. This means that the citizens should use the guns only when there are no other choices. However, when the citizens are faced with the tension of being attacked by criminals, they cannot be settled enough to think about the available options, but the first option they think of is the gun. However, the criminals normally have more experience of the use of the weapons than most citizens, which leads to more harm (Lott et al. 13-18). The states that allow citizens to own guns claim to have control on how the guns are used. They register the guns before releasing them to the public, making it possible to trace the owner of the guns in case of illegal use of the weapon. Donohue (29) claims that such legislations do not curb illegal use of guns since people can cover up after a misuse of the weapon. Illegally acquired guns are also used to promote criminal activities. This makes it difficult for the government to have control over the use of guns by the citizens. The issue of security is a national issue that should not be at any time placed under the responsibility of individual citizens. Instead of states allowing citizens to possess guns as a way of protecting them, they should be training more soldiers to do so. Security is better when handled by the government and not individuals (Ayres, 20).

Conclusion

The purpose of this study was to determine whether allowing citizens to own guns reduces or increases the crime rates. The fact remains that owning guns or failing to own them cannot eliminate crimes. This is because both the states that have allowed citizens to carry guns and those who have not all have cases of crimes. However, the study has provided statistical evidence of how states such as Florida have encountered a reduction in crimes. The number of rape, murder, and robbery cases has reduced by a recommendable percentage after the citizens were allowed to carry guns for personal protection. Acquiring a gun and keeping it in one's house does not offer protection. There is a need for citizens to be educated on when and how to use the weapons. The weapons should also be kept out of reach for children and family members who are suffering from the emotional and mental problem. The guns should only be used in situations where other possible options have already been exhausted. This will lead to reduced cases of crime and situations of misuse. Accountability should be kept as one of the primary methods of restricting the misuse of the weapons. Although the possession of the guns is expected to lower crime cases if wrongly managed can lead to more crimes. Registration of guns and making citizens go through the process of seeking permission before acquiring the guns increases accountability. The fact that possession of firearms for personal protection is a requirement for reducing crimes in a state should make the states to give the citizens equal access to them. Therefore, this study finds it necessary to mention that citizens should not pay for them to acquire the guns. This will ensure that then the financial position of the citizens is not a determinant on whether one should acquire one. However, the acquisition should be one's free will. After an in-depth consideration of arguments for and arguments against allowing citizens to carry guns for their security, this study concludes that possession of guns by the citizens reduces crime rates. Other states should embrace this act but at the same time ensure that the government restricts the use to only during cases that threaten the life of the victim. The study, therefore, confirms the thesis statement that allowing citizens to carry guns leads to lower crime rates to be right.

Works Cited

Ayres, Ian, and John J. Donohue III. Shooting down the more guns, less crime hypothesis. No.

w9336. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2002.

Cohen, Lawrence E., and Marcus Felson. "Social change and crime rate trends: A routine

activity approach." American sociological review (1979): 588-608.

Donohue, "Guns, crime, and the impact of state right-to-carry laws." Fordham L. Rev. 73 (2004):

623.

Hemenway, David, Deborah Azrael, and Matthew Miller. "National attitudes concerning gun

carrying in the United States." Injury Prevention 7.4 (2001): 282-285.

Joong-Hwan. "Social disorganizations and crime rates in US central cities: Toward an

explanation of urban economic change." The Social Science Journal 42.4 (2005): 569-582.

Kovandzic, Tomislav V., John J. Sloan III, and Lynne M. Vieraitis. "“Striking out” as crime

reduction policy: The impact of “three strikes” laws on crime rates in US cities." Justice Quarterly 21.2 (2004): 207-239.

Lott, John R. More guns, less crime: Understanding crime and gun control laws. University of

Chicago Press, 2013.

Lott, Jr, John R., and David B. Mustard. "Crime, deterrence, and right-to-carry concealed

handguns." The Journal of Legal Studies 26.1 (1997): 1-68.

McDowall, David, Colin Loftin, and Brian Wiersema. "Easing concealed firearms laws: Effects

on homicide in three states." The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (1973-) 86.1 (1995): 193-206.

October 20, 2022
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Law Enforcement Politics

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