Gun Control in America

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Nowadays, the gun control is a rather thorny issue faced by the American society. Opinions about the problem are divided as one group of people advocates for the regulation of gun ownership while the other believes that it is their right to own guns provided by the American constitution under The Second Amendment. However, the rise of mass murders in recent years has drawn attention to the need of controlling the ownership of guns in the United States. An example is a massacre at an elementary school in Connecticut in 2012 and the gun violence at the high school in Parkland, Florida among others. Thus this paper discusses the state of gun control in America and why the American government needs to establish more laws to regulate gun ownership.

The Laws Regulating the Use of Guns in America

The Second Amendment

provides for “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” Hence, it is a constitutional right for anyone under age to possess a gun. However, just like any rights, this freedom is not unlimited. As a result, the legislation on gun ownership has been set up in the recent years. The Gun Control Act of 1968

extensively talks about gun ownership in America. It provides for the minimum age for purchasing different types of guns (Squires 25). The person has to be at least 18 years old to purchase shotguns and 21 years old to own all other firearms like handguns. It also prohibits the sale of guns to people of unsound mind, fugitives, alien enemies, etc. There is also The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 that provides for background checks to be conducted on unlicensed gun purchasers. The Federal Firearms Act of 1938

is another law which requires persons selling guns to have the license. It also restricts the sale of guns to convicted criminals.

Another important issue in gun legislation in America is the opposition of the state laws to the federal laws. The use of state law is seen as more advantageous in regulating gun ownership. The impact of gun violence is felt at the state level in hospitals and schools. It is easier to implement state laws since the mechanisms for enforcement are the responsibility of the local government and the variety of state policies that they offer (“Gun Control in the United States”, 6). However, there are demerits of having state law gun legislation. The main one is the lack of uniformity of gun laws in different states. Having very strict gun control laws in one state and a less restrictive law in another state defeats the objective of gun regulation. Hence the possible solution to this issue is a uniform federal law to help in regulating the whole country.

Talking about the federal law, it provides several important points. Firstly, all gun dealers must have a Federal Firearms license to purchase and sell the guns. Secondly, the age restrictions of 21 years and 18 years depending on the which type of firearms (“Regulating Guns in America”, 11-12). Thirdly, the provision that private arms dealers and unlicensed persons should not sell handguns and ammunition to persons under 18 years. Fourthly, the federal laws also provide for the ban on importation of poor-quality firearms and the production of certain firearms with more than ten rounds of ammunition.

All in all, despite having the above provisions, it is clear that both federal laws and state laws aren’t sufficient enough. Moreover, they are focused more on punishment rather than on prevention and their implementation is quite hard. Hence, there must be a balance between federal laws and state laws to effectively regulate guns in the United States.

The Argument for the Gun Control in America

It is essential to have adequate laws to regulate gun ownership in America. It should be noted that the study has shown that more than 31,000 people in the U.S. suffer or die from wounds as a result of gunshots. That is why the reasons why we need more laws to regulate gun ownership are considered herein.

Firstly, guns are more dangerous than any other type of weapon. They are more lethal than any other arm since the likelihood of a person shot to survive is rather low as compared to a person who has been, for instance, stabbed. Hence, an increase in the number of people who own guns leads to more deaths per year (“Policies on Guns” 2). Secondly, the gun control is essential to reduce the number of accidental shootings which, unfortunately, tends to be rather high recently. The reason is that having an increased gun regulation laws prevents the number of unintended gun accidents that occur due to the unsafe handling by the owners themselves, children, mentally unstable persons among others. That is why safety is a rather daunting issue. Providing child security locks and loading indicators goes a long way to help reduce such accidents. Thirdly, the need to prevent persons like underage, fugitives, alien enemies from purchasing firearms is another reason for the need of gun regulation. Another problem is that the law provides that the private vendors can sell a firearm to unlicensed residents as long as the person does not seem suspicious to them (“Policies on Guns” 4). This gives a lot of discretion to the private firearm sellers. Hence, the legislation is of a great need. Fourthly, the study has shown that guns are likely to be used against the members of the same household than protect against criminals. In other words, arms are used in cases of domestic violence, especially against women. In the United States, females are 16 times more likely to be killed at home than women in other developed countries. Guns also cause emotional abuse as the partners may use them to threaten and control women.

Policy Reforms to Enhance Gun Regulation

Some of the reforms that can be used together with the current laws to sufficiently regulate ownership of guns in America are explained herein. Firstly, regulating the design of firearms can prevent gun violence and deaths. This is because there are different types of guns, those that have large capacity magazines which hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition and small capacity magazines (Webster et al., 5). The former is very lethal as it can be fired continuously without having to be reloaded. This is what is mostly used in mass shootings by criminals. Hence there is a need for a law that prohibits the sale of such weapons to the public as such weapons are appropriate only for the military use. Secondly, the right to carry guns (RTC) should be restricted to specific hours especially to the night time. RTC is the right that allows all persons who are legally allowed to carry a firearm to do so in public freely. The move can be considered as positive, but research depicts that most murders have been caused by persons not prohibited to carry a firearm (Webster et al., 6). Thirdly, there is a need to do background checks of all persons purchasing guns whether they are buying them from a licensed gun dealer or not according to The Brady Law. Nevertheless, it is not sufficient enough to deal with this issue. This is because most gun purchases are made by the persons who have not licensed gun dealers and as a result, criminals tend to exploit this loophole. Fourthly, there is a need to broaden firearms prohibitions for the high-risk persons. The federal laws and some state laws prohibit the possession of firearms by fugitive or criminal offenders. Some states like, for instance, New Jersey have even gone further to prevent persons who have been convicted of misdemeanors or domestic violence from purchasing arms. The provision should be legislated into law so that it can be uniformly implemented throughout the country (Webster et al., 6). The fallacy that persons who commit misdemeanors do not pose a significant threat to the society should be done away with. The reason is that most times the same persons end up committing violent crimes. Also, the law should sufficiently define or describe the persons who are substance abusers and are prohibited from purchasing firearms. The federal law prohibits such purchases, but the real question is who a substance abuser is. It only provides for the persons who have been convicted of use or possession of substance abuse within the past year. This is not sufficient though. That is why the law should be broadened to include persons who are alcohol addicted or have problems with drinking even though not arrested. Indeed, such approach will help reduce alcohol-induced crime. There should be sufficient enforcement mechanisms to fully implement it. In addition, the age for purchasing of firearms has to be increased to 21 years for any type of weapon. This will help reduce the youth-induced homicides which tend to happen very often nowadays. The age of 21 is the best option as the person is presumed to be more mature (Webster et al., 7). All the above reforms will help to reduce gun violence in America. Another issue is that there is a need to stop the flow of weapons in America. There should be a restriction on the number of guns that are present at a particular time in the country. The limitation can be done by reducing the number of guns that can be purchased at a given time by implementing the ‘one gun - one purchase’ policy, prohibiting bulk buying of guns. In the long run, this will solve the issues of gun trafficking. This can also be done by holding gun dealers accountable, as well as by requiring them to keep records of their purchases, and also by ensuring that they follow the law and do not sell guns to the underage persons. Also, there should be the repeal of preemption laws that block states from regulating firearms. Lastly, the taxes for gun manufacturers and dealers should be increased. This will help since owning a gun is not a necessity but a comfort. Increasing taxes will restrict the manufactures in the number of firearms they will produce, which in turn will reduce the flow of guns in the country.

Arguments against the Gun Control in America.

Not everyone agrees with the idea of having stringent regulation of gun ownership in America. Firstly, they argue that there will be the creation of a black market which is more dangerous. An increase in laws restricting ownership of guns by citizens will lead to a booming in the black market for the purchase of illegal firearms by persons who are prohibited from owning them. Secondly, the supporters of gun ownership argue that possessing guns have led to a reduction of gun violence. This is because everyone can protect themselves from the dangers that may occur. They also insist that other weapons like explosives, knives, vehicles attack cause just as much violent actions. They state that criminals will simply shift to the use of other weapons to commit a crime. Thirdly, gun supporters argue that violence caused by guns is the result of the lack of respect for human life and not just because of gun ownership. Hence, instead of restricting gun possessing e more laws should be enacted to ensure that people do not feel threatened. Fourthly, gun control impinges on the basic right of American citizens to protect themselves. This is well codified in the Second Amendment of the US constitution. Hence, having laws that restrict gun ownership is unconstitutional. Also, they argue that banning guns is like banning drugs that people will still get them in any possible way. Hence, instead of having more laws to regulate them, there has to be more awareness and educative programs to educate people on the consequences of misusing the guns.

Recommendations

Gun purchases should be restricted to one gun per person. Is not this highly-effective? However, such proposal aims at reducing the number of firearms being bought in bulk. Hence, there will be a need for controlling bigger number of people having guns. Background checks have to be done even if one is a private seller. This will help in closing the loophole of firearms being sold to persons who have the prohibition to possess weapon (“Gun Control in the United States”, 11).

Uniformity in both federal and state laws in the regulation and enforcement of gun control regulations. The standard age for purchasing a gun to be 21 years for all types of guns. . Installations of safety measures by manufacturers in the guns, e.g., child safety lock. There can also be built in locks to lock out any unlawful user. Increase in research on effective ways to reduce gun violence as well as implementation and enforcement of gun control laws.

Conclusion

To sum up, the issue of gun control is rather daunting for the modern U.S. society. The population though cannot reach the agreement about the problem, thus there is no uniformity among people. Neither the federal and state laws have it. However, to come up with changes, there is a need to have the standardization both in the federal and state laws to ensure the issue of gun ownership is sufficiently dealt with. Although many people claim that the gun control will only boost the black market and cases of crimes that may occur daily, not giving the chance for a regular person to protect themselves, nevertheless, having increased and sufficient legislation will definitely help to solve the problem of gun crimes in America as the weapons will not be vended to suspicious persons.

Works Cited

“Gun Control in the United States. A Comparative Survey of State Firearm Laws.”, Open Society Institute. 2000, http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/fileadmin/docs/L-External-publications/2000/2000%20OSI%20Gun%20control%20US.pdf./. Accessed 12 Dec.2018.

“Policies on Guns.” Constitutional Rights Foundation, 2012, http://www.crf-usa.org/images/pdf/gun_policies.pdf./. Accessed 12 Dec.2018.

“Regulating Guns in America. A Comprehensive Analysis of Gun Laws Nationwide.”, 2014 ed., Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 2014. https://lawcenter.giffords.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/RGIA-For-Web.pdf./. Accessed 12 Dec.2018.

Squires, Peter. Gun Culture or Gun Control? Firearms and Violence: Safety and Society. Routledge, 2012.

Webster, Daniel et al. The Case for Gun Policy Reforms in America. John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2012, https://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/johns-hopkins-center-for-gun-policy-and-research/publications/WhitePaper020514_CaseforGunPolicyReforms.pdf./. Accessed 12 Dec.2018.

December 12, 2023
Category:

Government Health Law

Subcategory:

Law Enforcement

Subject area:

Gun Control

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