Gun Control

Jan. 29, 2015

The Second Amendment to the US Constitution states, "A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." The Supreme Court has yet to explicitly state what is to be considered a ‘well-regulated militia’ and so opponents to gun control focus on the clearly stated second half, and the common knowledge of “The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed upon.” Therefore gun control is a direct violation of the American citizen’s Second Amendment Rights.

Exploring the terms stated in the second amendment, ‘the security of a free state’ is mentioned. This leads to the discussion of self-defense, and the preparation for a possibly unstable future. In his article ‘Gun Control Facts’ James D. Agresti stated, “Based on survey data from a 2000 study published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, U.S. civilians use guns to defend themselves and others from crime at least 989,883 times per year.” (Agresti)

According to Patrick J. Kiger in his article ‘10 Big Questions in the U.S. Gun Control Debate’ “As Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, warned at a January 2013 press conference: ‘When you hear your glass breaking at 3 a.m. and you call 911, you won't be able to pray hard enough for a gun in the hands of a good guy to get there fast enough to protect you’ [source: Washington Post]. Some, such as economist and author John R. Lott Jr., argued that the answer to stopping gun violence was for more citizens to be armed [source: University of Chicago Press].” (Kiger)

Lott supports this point by continuing, “Criminals are deterred by higher penalties. Just as higher arrest and conviction rates deter crime, so does the risk that someone committing a crime will confront someone able to defend him or herself. There is a strong negative relationship between the number of law-abiding citizens with permits and the crime rate—as more people obtain permits there is a greater decline in violent crime rates. For each additional year that a concealed handgun law is in effect the murder rate declines by 3 percent, rape by 2 percent, and robberies by over 2 percent.” Lott bases his numbers on data for all counties in the United States from 1977 to 1994. If there was no such thing as gun control, then criminals may be uncertain as to which citizens carry a sidearm, and which do not, and the citizens who do carry a sidearm will be able to defend themselves without relying on the police force to arrive to assist them.

This brings up another point, many people believe that the police will arrive in time and do everything in their power to protect them. However, according to Richard W. Stevens “First, the police cannot and do not protect everyone from crime. Second, the government and the police in most localities owe no legal duty to protect individuals from criminal attack. When it comes to deterring crime and defending against criminals, individuals are ultimately responsible for themselves and their loved ones. Depending solely on police emergency response means relying on the telephone as the only defensive tool. Too often, citizens in trouble dial 911 . . . and die.” (Stevens)

Richard Mack, the former sheriff of Graham County, Arizona, backs up Mr. Stevens’ point by stating “’Police do very little to prevent violent crime. We investigate crime after the fact.’” (Stevens) Therefore citizens are now vulnerable to criminal activities with help from the police doubtful at best. Stevens goes on to hypothesize the event that an armed perpetrator broke into your house, and you were left “crouching behind a chair with a telephone in your hand, you were defenseless because the government took away your private defense tools and handed you a telephone number to call for emergency help. You relied on that telephone number, and the help never came. The government’s policy made you a crime statistic.” (Stevens)

It is also imperative to keep in mind that guns don’t kill people. It’s the person who does the killing; therefore less examination should be placed on gun control, and laws restricting the ownership of firearms, and more on the people purchasing the gun. It should become less of gun control, and more of people control. As stated by Roger A. Freeman in his novel The Wayward Welfare State “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns” (Freeman 286). Although to some the concept of outlawing guns seems like the easiest solution, it will only prevent law-abiding citizens from owning firearms.

In most cases, the cause for concern regarding guns occurs after a mass shooting, robbery, murder, rape or some form of coercion at gunpoint. However the gun users who are behind the acts of mass shooting, robbery, murder, rape, and forms of coercion tend not to follow or obey the law. The concept of outlawing guns will then only prevent those who follow the law from owning guns, thus making the concept of outlawing guns as absurd as arming criminals. Furthermore, if the outlawing of guns were to go into effect, the black market would flourish, and outlaws and criminals will once again be armed while citizens will be vulnerable, unarmed and unable to protect themselves.

As opposed to outlawing guns, if the laws already in place were properly enforced the topic of gun control would never need to be discussed. New York State, for example, has some of the most stringent, restrictive gun control laws in the country, especially with the recent passage of the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (AKA The SAFE Act) of 2013 on January 15, 2013. Upon signing this act into law Cuomo states; “The SAFE Act stops criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from buying a gun by requiring universal background checks on gun purchases, increases penalties for people who use illegal guns, mandates life in prison without parole for anyone who murders a first responder, and imposes the toughest assault weapons ban in the country. For hunters, sportsmen, and law abiding gun owners, this new law preserves and protects your right to buy, sell, keep or use your guns." However background checks are already standard for the purchase of shotguns, and in Nassau County the prospective buyer must under go a six-month examination and wait in order to own handguns. The need for increased penalties on the ownership of illegal guns only makes the lack of enforcement obvious.

However, those in support of gun control believe that “through legalized gun ownership, guns have a greater chance of falling into the hands of kids
that could lead to deadly accidents [such as] individuals with mental illness, kids bullied at school, a person that feels dejected, and other
disgruntled persons can inflict mass casualties with guns that otherwise would not be possible.”(Stand) These people believe that more laws and regulations should be made to restrict the usage of guns, as stated by Stand Up Speak Out Now, “Most violent crimes are committed with guns. It would stand to reason then, that restricting
gun ownership would likely reduce the number of such crimes.” (Stand) People in agreement with gun control also believe that the outlawing of guns will end all gun related violence. According to The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence, “Every year in the U.S., an average of more than 100,000 people are shot, [and] every day in the U.S. an average of 289 people are shot. Eighty-six of them die: 30 are murdered, 53 kill themselves, two die accidentally, and one is shot in a police intervention.” (Just)

In opposition to this, as previously stated by Agresti, “U.S. civilians use guns to defend themselves and others from crime at least 989,883 times per year.” (Agresti) Therefore more people utilize guns to defend themselves than to commit crime. As for guns ‘falling into the hands of kids’ there are already regulations and laws such as the Child Access Prevention Laws. These laws “take a variety of forms. The strongest laws impose criminal liability when a minor gains access to a negligently stored firearm. The weakest merely prohibit persons from directly providing a firearm to a minor.” (Child) The aforementioned statement must again be stressed, guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Lott contributes to this stating, “Some people do use guns in horrible ways, but other people use guns to prevent horrible things from happening to them. The ultimate question that concerns us all is: Will allowing law-abiding citizens to own guns save lives?” (Lott) This is the question we must all ask ourselves before condemning a ‘side’ to the issue or a believe. What did the Founding Father mean for the second amendment to do? Was it to protect the citizens, or to protect the government?