Gun Ownership in the United States

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Gun ownership is a hot topic in the US from the understanding that the constitution provides that it is a right for anyone who wants to possess a firearm. The provision is outlined in the Second Amendments that clearly outlines that the right to keep Arms shall not be infringed (Hepburn et al. 8). The contentious issue, however, is when realizes that there have been worrying incidences of mass shootings on notable occasions when someone goes into a shooting spree. It appears that the gun ownership rule passed in 1789 is becoming obsolete in the twenty-first century because it no longer serves the need it was intended. The passing in 1789 was meant for the post-revolutionary America when American was regaining its position from the oppressive British rule (Kalesan et al. 4). The use of guns was expected to be a preventive measure against the colonialists who needed to control them but has become a booming industry 250 years later. The ownership of firearms has become easy because of the provision by the law and poor inspection patters. 

The primary reason for the ease of owning a firearm in the US is attributed to the easy and swift checking of one’s background records before one is admitted. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is tasked with the goal of keeping a database as pertains the customer records considering it is a store that sells guns (Wallace 4). The organization assesses three factors including the National Crime Information Center, the Interstate Identification Index, and the NICS Index to check whether someone has been listed in either. It is then followed by filling a form that includes one's personal information including the social security number. A series of other questions are asked pertaining the risk that one is predisposed to misusing the firearm and all the details are kept in a Firearms Transaction Records. While it could be thought to be a tedious process, the reality is that it only takes a few minutes to conduct the assessment and determine whether it is allowed or not. The apprehension that one can own a gun within an hour of visiting the store means that many people acquire firearms at their convenience provided they do not raise any red flags in the assessment stage. It is thus common for criminal to take advantage of this ease of acquisition to manipulate the system for their benefits.

Another related concerns that make it easy to acquire a weapon the US is that there have been instances where there are computation and clerical errors. It is easy for a criminal to gain access to a registered weapon because cases of mistakes have been common. The most relevant case is that of Kelly who was convicted by the US Air Force court-martial and was found to be guilty of domestic abuse (Celinska 5). Even though he was sentenced to a year in confinement, the case presents a classic example of how it is easy to forego the security checks when an error is made either intentionally or without the consent of the stakeholders involved. When his details were being entered in the Colorado and Texas records, the subject escaped without a red flag when the box disqualifying criminal history was not ticked. It meant that the recording mistakes make it easy to get a firearm. The unfortunate reality, however, is that the case is not unique because many other instances of similar errors have been recorded on notable occasions. Following the shooting incidence in 2015 at the Charleston church, it was reported that Dylann Roof managed to acquire the firearm because there were lapses in the assessment stage in the FBI analysis stage (Pérez-peña and Stewart 4). Even though Roof had been arrested two times both in the month that preceded his request to won the gun, not criminal records were reflected when he was making the purchase. The gun threat was used in committing the offense was obtained from the South Carolina gun store, and ten people were victims of the carelessness in record keeping. It follows that from these two cases and many others that have not been reported yet, the ease in acquiring a gun is primarily because it is simple to succeed to bypass the investigation stage.

Furthermore, there is a lack of consistency of what is required for one to make a firearm purchase from one state to another. The greatest concern is that out of the 50 states, 35 of them do not require that one has a license or a purchase permit before being granted the ownership rights (Xuan and Hemenway 9). It is even more troubling that some states have passed laws against such restrictions as noted in Idaho and Alaska where it is clearly outlined that the authorities should not enforce any local ordinance meant to regulate the registration of guns. It is only in the District of Columbia where it is mandatory that one meets the requirements. The challenge is that despite the implementation of this rule, a resident of Big Apple can still cross the border to neighboring Pennsylvania and acquire the firearm that they need. The states are also rarely are involved in the breach of the law requiring licensure apprehended for their crimes. It is only when they are stopped and searched by the police that they get caught when they have a gun. It thus seems that most of the states have fallen victim of the cycle Democrats please that require action on the gun control laws. Meanwhile, the Republicans are having a different view because they are having a watchful eye of the lobbyists who seem like they are so influential in the gun control laws (Knight 2). The federal position and the state influence is that it is unlikely that there will be any consistency in the laws pertaining the gun control laws. Furthermore, it is unlikely that there will be any alterations to the constitutional right of owning firearms because the Trump presidency effect is almost unlikely to change the situation. Nevertheless, it is expected that there will be more effort to ensure that the states are more consistent because there have been amendments being done before, and any changes that are conceivable remain unlikely in the horizon.

The acquisition of guns has also been complicated by the fact that there is a mental health problem and many are diagnosed to be mentally ill. Following the Sutherland Shooting, President Donald Trump’s immediate reaction was to blame the mental health challenge as opposed to the standard gun control laws (Swanson et al. 6). The Trump Administration has since overturned the Obama Administration rule design that was intended to keep firearms from those who were thought o be mentally ill. It means that the situation atthe present is that PTSD sufferers, schizophrenics, manic depressives, unconvinced drugs addicts and many other people who have mental challenges have the freedom of acquiring firearms provided that they manage to keep their conditions a secret. Furthermore, as long as they have been decided by the court to be mentally defective, they are still at liberty and permitted by the law to acquire weapons for personal protection. However, the greatest challenge that has since become apparent is that there is a huddle of licensing the purchase-permit laws in the setting, usually the state, where they choose to make the weapon purchase (Swanson, McGinty, et al. 10). The mental health victims also have to live by the fact that few states permit strict licensing laws because, in many states, there is no need fora any owner license of purchase for those who need the firearms whether regardless of whether they are mentally ill or not.

The acquisition of firearms in the US has also been eased by the fact that there is a gun how loophole. It is stated that one of the ways of circumventing the checking that is done in the background scenes before one is approved is by visiting one of the endless list of gun hows that are common almost every week in all parts of the country (Sumner et al. 45). Under normal circumstances, the private-party seller is not permitted to engage in background checks on buyers based on the provisions of the federal law. It is not allowed regardless of whether one is at a gun show or in other locations. They are also not allowed to make any records of purchase or make identity verification of any kind. It means that business is not in a secondary market environment which presents a problem in the perspective of gun control laws. It is unfortunate that there is often a loophole in the federal law where it is stated that any person can engage in the sale of an unlicensed firearm of a state that they live provided that they are unaware of any reasons that would make them believe that the person is not permitted to own one. It is a contradiction to the laws as stipulated in Chapter 18 of Section 922 of the US Code that argues that it is not permitted for any citizen except in situations that they are the licensed importer or dealer to engage in gun business (Miller et al. 23). Such activities include the importation, manufacturer, or dealing with all kinds of firearms even though there are minor restrictions against those who are interested in the purchase of firearms. It is also common to find that people will buy from neighbors and family members which constitutes an unregulated market that is difficult to manage as it is almost impossible to keep track of the dealings that people engage in a gun acquisition. 

It is thus recommended that to solve the gun challenge in the US, there should be thorough background checks done before one is allowed to own a firearm. In a posting on Twitter on February 21, 2018, Donald Trump was quoted mentioning that regardless of whether one is a Democrat or a Republican, they have to accept the new policy that will require a complete background check (McCarthy 3). The move is positive and has received massive support from a majority of Americans pertaining to gun purchases. It is expected that through the passing of the Fix Nics 2017 Act, the bipartisan legislation has already passed through Congress and it will be relevant in tightening the background checks. The Nics concept stands for National Instant Background Checks System and has proven to be successful on notable occasions. It is reported that at least three men who had been involved in high-profile shooting incidences have been barred from the acquisition of firearms. Critics have argued that it is not as effective though because they believe that the Fix Nics Act that Trump is supporting does not provide any changes to the provisions of who is barred from buying a gun (McCarthy 6). Instead, it offers the federal institutions with new incentives to provide records to the background system, a requirement that has always been the case. Nevertheless, regardless of the negative remarks, the Fix Nics is expected to be a short- and long-term solution to the problem of ease of acquisition of firearms in the US.

In conclusion, it is affirmed that the challenge of gun ownership has always meant that it is easy for someone to acquire a firearm. The most plausible reasons to explain the trend are that people tend to take advantage of the easy systems in the background check and especially when there are computational errors in the recordings. Further challenges that have made it easy to own a gun are based on the lack of consistency of the state laws and the fact that there is a mental health problem that means that people with health challenges are allowed. With the gun how loophole being a clear predisposing factor, it is expected that the implementation of the Fix Nics policy will case stricter adherence to background checks and solve the problem.

Works Cited

Celinska, Katarzyna. “Individualism and Collectivism in America: The Case of Gun Ownership and Attitudes toward Gun Control.” Sociological Perspectives, 2007, doi:10.1525/sop.2007.50.2.229.

Hepburn, L., et al. “The US Gun Stock: Results from the 2004 National Firearms Survey.” Injury Prevention, 2007, doi:10.1136/ip.2006.013607.

Kalesan, Bindu, et al. “Gun Ownership and Social Gun Culture.” Injury Prevention, 2016, doi:10.1136/injuryprev-2015-041586.

Knight, Brian. “State Gun Policy and Cross-State Externalities: Evidence from Crime Gun Tracing.” American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 2013, doi:10.1257/pol.5.4.200.

McCarthy, Tom. “What Gun Control Proposals Are Being Considered – and Will They Succeed?” The Guardian, 2018,

Miller, Matthew, et al. “Firearm Acquisition without Background Checks: Results of a National Survey.” Annals of Internal Medicine, 2017, doi:10.7326/M16-1590.

Pérez-peña, Alan Blinder Richard, and Nikita Stewart. “In Charleston, Raw Emotion at Hearing for Suspect in Church Shooting.” The New York Times, 2015.

Sumner, Steven A., et al. “Firearm Death Rates and Association with Level of Firearm Purchase Background Check.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2008, doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2008.03.023.

Swanson, Jeffrey W., Michele M. Easter, et al. “Gun Violence, Mental Illness, and Laws That Prohibit Gun Possession: Evidence from Two Florida Counties.” Health Affairs, 2016, doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2016.0017.

Swanson, Jeffrey W., E. Elizabeth McGinty, et al. “Mental Illness and Reduction of Gun Violence and Suicide: Bringing Epidemiologic Research to Policy.” Annals of Epidemiology, 2015, doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2014.03.004.

Wallace, Lacey N. “Responding to Violence with Guns: Mass Shootings and Gun Acquisition.” Social Science Journal, 2015, doi:10.1016/j.soscij.2015.03.002.

Xuan, Ziming, and David Hemenway. “State Gun Law Environment and Youth Gun Carrying in the United States.” JAMA Pediatrics, 2015, doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.2116.

December 12, 2023

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