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Gun or firearm control and regulation includes the development and application of legislation or other measures intended to control the production, selling, transfer, ownership, modification, and use of firearms by civilians. The level of regulation differs between different countries and regions, with some enacting strict gun laws while others are lax or permissive. Civilian gun ownership has become a hot topic of discussion in the aftermath of widespread criminal activity, with both supporters and opponents arguing for and against the practice.
The Second Amendment to the American Constitution emphasizes the freedom to keep and bear arms. Nevertheless, the argument is still being waged by pro- and anti-gun organizations. In 2008, the Supreme Court through Columbia v. Heller case, ruled categorically that the Constitution allows for personal ownership and use of firearms. Later on, the Supreme Court held that the right to own firearms applies not only at the federal level but also state and local levels (Dodson, 2017). The real questions revolve around whether or not stricter gun laws enhance the safety of all people or increase criminal activity, accidental injury or death, and even suicide rates.
An in-depth outlook on the aspect of gun control shows that strict gun laws go a long way in increasing safe use and well-being of civilians. This observation is supported by several studies conducted within the United States. Particularly, a 2013 study indicates that states with higher numbers of gun laws tend to have lower rates of firearm-related victims (Fleegler, Lee, Monuteaux, Hemenway, & Mannix, 2013). Similarly, another study conducted in 2016, a significant number of legislation that requires certain conditions to be met for civilian ownership such as background checks, checks for ammunition sales and gun identification generally had a relationship with reduced firearm mortalities (Kalesan, Mobily, Keiser, Fagan, & Galea, 2016). Other research that compares the application and effects of gun control laws further indicate that stricter firearm legislation tends to reduce the rate of discharges (Simonetti, Rowhani-Rahbar, Mills, Young, & Rivara, 2015).
The issue of safety also comes into play and contrary to what common beliefs, investigations indicate that children who live in states with strict gun laws tend to be safer (Safavi, et al., 2014). Apparently, the implementation of strict laws to control ownership and use of firearms goes a long way in improving safety and reckless discharge of these weapons. In fact, Anestis & Anestis (2015), mention that handgun regulation involving the waiting period, individual background checks, gun locks, open carrying and concealment rules are linked with reduced rates of firearm-related suicides. Furthermore, the regulations which require both the licensing and inspection of dealers lowers gun-related homicides.
In conclusion, firearm ownership has become a widespread phenomenon as citizens seek ways to protect themselves and their families. However, in the absence of firm and severe gun control laws, it is easier for everyone - including criminals - to acquire and use these weapons for the wrong reasons. Likewise, individuals may also wrongly use the guns for intimidation and threatening others. Strict gun laws also facilitate the assessment of the civilians and check whether or not they are eligible for owning a firearm. This strategy not only reduces suicide rates but also makes it hard for criminals to acquire guns easily. Laws that encourage gun dealer inspection, licensing and registration of guns to the buyers also facilitate the tracking of discharged weapons to the owner during criminal activities and discharges.
Anestis, M., & Anestis, J. (2015). Suicide Rates and State Laws Regulating Access and Exposure to Handguns . American Journal of Public Health, 105(10), 2049–2058. doi:10.2105/ajph.2015.302753.
Dodson, N. (2017, September 6). Gun Control And Gun Rights. Retrieved from US News: https://www.usnews.com/topics/subjects/gun-control-and-gun-rights
Fleegler, E., Lee, L., Monuteaux, M., Hemenway, D., & Mannix, R. (2013). Firearm legislation and firearm-related fatalities in the United States. JAMA Internal Medicine, 173(9), 732–740. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.1286.
Kalesan, B., Mobily, M. E., Keiser, O., Fagan, J. A., & Galea, S. (2016). Firearm legislation and firearm mortality in the USA: a cross-sectional, state-level study. The Lancet, 387, 1847–1855. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(15)01026-0.
Safavi, A., Rhee, P., Pandit, V., Kulvatunyou, N., Tang, A., Aziz, H., . . . Joseph, B. (2014). Children are safer in states with strict firearm laws: a National Inpatient Sample study . The journal of trauma and acute care surgery, 76(1), 146–150. doi:10.1097/ta.0b013e3182ab10fb10.1097/ta.0b013e3182ab10fb.
Simonetti, J. A., Rowhani-Rahbar, A., Mills, B., Young, B., & Rivara, F. P. (2015). State Firearm Legislation and Nonfatal Firearm Injuries . American Journal of Public Health, 105(8), 1703–1709. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2015.302617.
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