Gun control has remained a highly debatable and divisive issue in the American political climate. Guns are commonplace in the U.S., with 39% of U.S. citizens reporting to own them in their homes in 2016 (Gallup, n.p.). The existing laws and policies on firearms regulation can be traced to the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (1993), which, in most instances referred to as the Brady Bill (The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, n.p.). The calls for increased firearm regulation is based on the belief that restrictions will decrease gun-related violence and deaths. Additionally, those against legalization of gun usage argue that stringent gun control laws help to protect women from domestic abuse. Moreover, they believe that gun owners rarely use guns in self-defense. Opponents of gun control employ many arguments to fight any attempts to regulate the use of guns. First, they argue that such measures infringe on their constitutional right to own arms. Secondly, they claim that firearms are essential in the deterrence of crime in self-defense.
First, proponents of gun control are of the opinion that gun ownership has resulted in increased gun-related violence and deaths. The U.S. is the global leader in gun violence and ownership. Miller (2002, 1988) conducted a study to investigate the relationship between household firearm ownership rates and homicide across the U.S., by age groups. Findings from the study showed that a positive relationship between household firearm ownership rates and homicide. Specifically, higher rates of firearms-related homicides were reported in regions with higher rates of gun possession Miller (2002, 1989). Between 2001 to 2014, data obtained from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that 440, 095 people died by guns in the U.S. (Bower, n.p.). In comparison, 3043 U.S. citizens were killed in acts of domestic terrorism over the same period. Moreover, 18473 firearm-related deaths have been reported since the beginning of 2017 (Gun Violence Archive, n.p).
Second, gun control help to protect women from domestic abuse and violence. A study carried out by Parsons and Speigel (n.p) reported that access to guns is a primary driver of violence against women. From 2001 to 2012, more than 6000 were reported to have been killed by their intimate partners using a gun. This number is higher than the total number of U.S. military troops killed during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Additionally, guns are the preferred choice of weapon for fatal intimate violence. Parsons and Speigel (n.p) study also established that women in the U.S. are 11 times at a risk of being killed with a gun compared to women in other high-income countries. Firearms-related deaths can, therefore, be significantly reduced through stringent gun laws aimed at limiting abusers access to arms.
Another reason why gun-control measures should be enacted is that firearms are rarely used in self-defense. Recent federal data show that private citizens use guns to kill other people or for self-harm rather than to kill in self-defense. In 2013, only 211 excusable homicides involving the use of a gun for self-defense was reported (Sugarmann, n.p.). This is in sharp contrast to 7,838 firearm-related criminal homicides reported in the same year (Sugarmann, n.p.) Therefore, for every excusable homicide involving a firearm, 37 gun-related criminal homicides took place (Sugarmann, n.p.). Moreover, the study showed that a small proportion of violent crime victims use guns for self-defense. Specifically, less than 1% of violent crimes victims used guns for self-defense and 0.2% of property crimes victims reported to have used firearms for self-defense (Sugarmann, n.p.).
Despite the high number of gun-related deaths in the U.S., there still exist a large proportion of American citizens opposed to any form of gun control. Opponents of gun control employ many arguments to fight any attempts to regulate the use of guns. First, they argue that such measures infringe on their constitutional right to own arms. Secondly, they claim that firearms are essential in the deterrence of crime and self-defense.
The reasons employed by gun enthusiasts to fight off firearm control is not based on facts and lack substance. First, the argument that gun control infringes on their constitutional right, especially the 2nd Amendment, to own arms is not true. Because no federal army existed when the U.S. was founded, 2nd Amendment was intended to protect the rights of states to keep militias and for militiamen to sustain arms for self-defense. However, gun ownership has become irrelevant because of the presence of federal armed services. Therefore, private citizens should not be allowed to own guns.
Opponents of gun control also argue that firearms are essential for self-defense. However, this is not entirely true. Studies have found out that guns are rarely used for self-defense. For instance, less than 1% of violent crimes victims used guns for self-defense and 0.2% of property crimes victims have reported using firearms for self-defense (Sugarmann, n.p.).
Are we interested in reducing the rampant gun-related violence deaths and gun-related women intimate violence? The solution to these problems lies in gun control. The benefits of gun control outweigh its risks. If gun control laws are fully enacted, there will be a significant reduction in firearm-related violence and deaths which are currently commonplace. The enactment of such laws will also help to protect women from gun-related intimate violence. Lastly, the fact that gun owners rarely use their firearms for self-defense beats the logics for the ownership in the first place.
Bower, Eve. "American Deaths In Terrorism Vs. Gun Violence In One Graph." CNN, 2017, http://edition.cnn.com/2016/10/03/us/terrorism-gun-violence/.
Gallup, Inc. "Guns." Gallup.Com, 2017, http://www.gallup.com/poll/1645/guns.aspx.
Gun Violence Archive. "Gun Violence Archive 2017." Gunviolencearchive.Org, 2017, http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/.
Miller, Matthew et al. "Rates Of Household Firearm Ownership And Homicide Across US Regions And States, 19881997". American Journal Of Public Health, vol 92, no. 12, 2002, pp. 1988-1993. American Public Health Association, doi:10.2105/ajph.92.12.1988.
Parsons, Chelsea, and Lauren Speigel. "Women Under The Gun - Center For American Progress." Center For American Progress, 2017, https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/guns-crime/reports/2014/06/18/91998/women-under-the-gun/.
Sugarmann, Josh. "Guns Are Rarely Used In Self-Defense." The Huffington Post, 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/josh-sugarmann/guns-are-rarely-used-in-s_b_9774008.html.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. "Brady Law | Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms And Explosives." Atf.Gov, 2017, https://www.atf.gov/rules-and-regulations/brady-law.
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