Research Paper Example on Gun Control

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1921 words
University of Richmond
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Research paper
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(a) Gun control

Gun control is a highly divisive issue in the United States. To some individuals, gun control is beneficial in many ways, such as in control of crime. To others, it infringes on the fundamental right to safety. People hold strong and opposite views when it comes to gun debate, with some advocating for more gun control laws and others for less. Supporters of gun control laws argue that guns have led to increased firearm-related violence and deaths, guns are commonly stolen and used by criminals, gun laws help to protect women from domestic violence, and that guns are rarely used in self-defense. On the other hand, individuals against gun control argue that it goes against their constitutional right, is an infringement on their right to self-defense, gun possession stop crimes, and that relatively few individuals die as a result of guns compared to deaths from diseases.

(b) Significance of gun control

The ever-rising incidences of violent crimes and massacres related to gun ownership among the private citizens keep gun control debate alive. Even though many individuals fall on either side of the gun debate, a solution to this problem needs to be found. The need to enforce stringent laws on gun ownership among private citizens is clearly evident in a mass shooting incident which took place at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg and others across the United States. The shooting, involving the use of legally purchased firearms, led to nine deaths and nine injuries. Such avoidable deaths can be easily curbed through gun control.

(c) Solutions

Some of the solutions to gun problems in the U.S. include enforcing existing gun laws (Novak n.p.), making the gun owners accountable for crimes committed with their guns, and creation of a national gun registry (Miller n.p.).

(d) Important information addressed by the research

This research will examine the controversial topic of gun control debate with the aim of identifying the primary reasons why a section of the U.S. population supports it, while others are against it. Additionally, the history of gun control will be examined.

Informative section

(a) The history of gun control

The controversial debate over gun control versus Second Amendment is over half a century old. Even though the precise date of its commencement is not known, some trace its roots to the aftermath of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy which occurred on the 22nd of November, 1963. It is believed that the assassination brought to fore the lack of stringent measures regarding the sale and possession of guns in the United States. For instance, before 1968, firearms were sold over-the-counter and by mail to any adult in the United States. However, the United States gun laws regulating private possession of firearms goes back to 1791. In 1791, the Bill of Rights and the Second Amendment were ratified. The Bill of Rights and the Second Amendment encouraged the development of a militia needed to offer security for free states. It also gave private citizens the right to own arms (Longley n.p.).

In 1837, the state of Georgia passed a law prohibiting handguns but was deemed unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court. In 1865, after the civil war, many southern states passed laws forbidding African Americans from possessing firearms. In 1871, the National Rifle Association of America (NRA) was founded, with the primary goal of championing for gun ownership rights in readiness for war. In 1927, a law prohibiting the sale of firearms via mail was passed. This was followed by the National Firearms Act of 1934 passed by the Congress which called for control of the gun manufacture, sale, and ownership. In 1938, a limitation was placed on the sales of common firearms under the Federal Firearms Act. The Act stated that individuals involved in firearms trade should obtain Federal Firearms License and keep the records of the name and address of people who have purchased guns. It also outlawed gun sales to individuals found guilty of violent felonies (Longley n.p.).

In 1968, the Gun Control Act (GCA) was ratified with the aim of keeping guns out of the hands of individuals not lawfully permitted to own them due to their criminal past, age, or incompetence. In 1986, a law that prohibited the sale of fully automatic weapons to individuals was enacted (Longley n.p.).. In 1993, Brady Bill that advocates for background checks on gun buyers was enacted. Lastly, in 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the Assault Weapons Ban (Krieg n.p.).

(b) People involved in gun control

In recent years, some notable figures have championed for tougher gun laws. They include President Obama, who championed for stringent laws throughout his presidential terms. Another key person is Michael Bloomberg who spent millions of dollars in 2010 in support of election of pro-gun politicians. A Democratic senator from California, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, is also synonymous with gun control having led efforts to pass assault weapons ban bill in 1994. Next is Carolyn McCarthy, a member of Congress whose husband was killed in when a gunman shot at a commuter train in 1993 (Blake n.p.).

(c) Organizations involved in gun control

Several organizations are actively involved in gun control. Some of these agencies include Everytown for Gun Safety, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, and the Brady Campaign. Everytown for Gun Safety, a group of Americans championing to end firearm violence. Second, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence aims to reduce gun violence by advocating for effective policies and through research. Third, the Brady Campaign is an organization whose goal is to create a safe America characterized by lower rates of firearm-related deaths and injuries (Jessica n.p.).

(d) Definitions of key terms or ideas

Gun control- refers to efforts to enforce stringent laws aimed at curbing or reducing gun-related deaths and violence.

Pro-gun control individuals- is a term used to describe people who support gun control.

Anti-gun control individuals - is a term used to describe people who are against gun control.

(e) Important numbers and figures

The United States is the leads worldwide in the number of guns per capita. Private citizens in the U.S. possess nearly 270 million firearms (Simon and Sanchez n.p.), with an average of 88 guns per 100 people (Swanson and Elliot n.p.). From 2001 to 2013, 406,496 American deaths were caused by firearms, with 60% of these deaths due to suicide (Simon and Sanchez n.p.). Most of the active shootings (70%) in the U.S. occur in public places, especially schools and businesses (Simon and Sanchez n.p.).

Argumentative section

(a) Arguments for gun control

There are several reasons why pro-gun control individuals support enactment of strict gun laws. First, the high rates of gun ownership in the United States have been linked to increased firearm-related violence and deaths. The U.S. is a global leader in firearms per capita, with about 90% of the U.S. population owning guns (Sanchez n.p.). The high gun ownership rate in the U.S. has been linked to high incidences of mass shootings (Swanson and Elliot n.p.). For instance, from 1997 to 2015, 51 mass shooting incidents have occurred in the U.S. compared to 3 in Germany and Switzerland, 1 in the United Kingdom, and none in Australia and Japan (Sanchez n.p.). Other appalling statistics show that from 2001 to 2013, U.S. firearm violence was responsible for killing more people than terrorist activities, even after 9/11 is factored in (Sanchez n.p.). Specifically, the fatalities attributed to terrorism in the U.S. was 0.8% of those caused by firearms in the same period. Additionally, guns have been found to be highly used in homicides. From 2007 to 2011, about 70% of homicides were carried out using firearms (Sanchez n.p.). Also, nearly 26% of robberies and 31% of aggravated assaults were attributed to guns (Sanchez n.p.). Moreover, a Harvard University study has found a positive relationship between higher level of gun ownership and higher level of gun assault, armed robbery, and gun homicide after confounding variables, such as race and age, were controlled (Kurtzleben n.p.).

Second, legally acquired guns have been reported to be commonly stolen and used by criminals. Most of the firearms used to carry out criminal activities are, in most cases, those stolen from legal owners. Criminals steal these guns during home invasions and breaks, burglary, and car theft. From 2005 to 2010, more than 1 million guns were stolen from the legal owners homes during property crimes.

Third, gun control measures are necessary to protect women from domestic violence, a growing crisis related to gun possession. The most recent example of a domestic violence case involving the use of a firearm occurred in San Bernardino, California, where a husband entered a classroom and fatally shot his wife and a learner, before turning a gun on himself. The San Bernardino case is not exceptional, about 50 American women are killed by former and current partners on a monthly basis (Beckett n.p). Overall, nearly 760 Americans are fatally shot by their partners every year, with 75% of those murdered being the current girlfriends or wives of the killers (Beckett n.p). On the contrary, shooting to death of men by their current wives or girlfriends is a rare phenomenon. Moreover, according to Everytown for Gun Safety analysis, 54% of mass shooting incidents have been attributed to the murder of a partner or a family member (Jeltsen n.p). In the same analysis, 64% of those killed in these shootings were of the females and the young (Jeltsen n.p). In another study conducted by Gerney and Parsons (n.p), access to firearms was found to be a key cause of violence against women. Gerney and Parsons study also revealed that 6,410 women were murdered by their partners between 2001 and 2012.

Fourth, gun regulation should be enacted because firearms are rarely used in self-defense. Instead of using guns to stop criminals, a recent study carried out by Violence Policy Centre has shown that most of the gun owners are more likely to instill self-harm or injure other individuals with their guns. In this study, the researchers reported 258 justifiable homicides involving private citizens using guns compared to more than 8,000 murders by firearms (McLaughlin n.p.). These findings show that private gun owners are more likely to use their weapons in murders than in justifiable homicides. It was also established that there is a higher likelihood of firearms being stolen than being used in self-defense. Moreover, about 22,000 of gun possessors are accidentally killed by their guns or use them to kill themselves (McLaughlin n.p.).

(b) Arguments against gun control

Several arguments have also been advanced against gun control. First, anti-gun control activists argue that such measures go against their constitutional right, particularly the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment protects private citizens gun possession. Specifically, the Second Amendment states that a well-regulated militia is needed to ensure the security of a free state and, thus, every individual has a right to own a gun. They are also of the opinion that gun possession is deeply rooted in the U.S. tradition and is older than the country itself. Therefore, enactment of more gun regulation laws is seen by these individuals as an infringement of their rights to own guns. In gun ownership court cases involving private citizens and states or cities, gun owners have always triumphed. For instance, in District of Columbia et al. v. Heller case, U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment give rights to individuals to possess guns and to use them for self-defense. Similarly, in the McDonald v. City of Chicago case, the court ruled that the right to own a gun is as important as the freedom of...

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