American history has been tainted by high-profile gun violence that has focused the citizens’ attention to the failures of the gun control in the country. The Aurora, CO Theater shooting by a 24 year old male in July 2012, and other mass shootings throughout the history of the US always trigger debates on gun ownership rights, gun safety and trading of guns in the country. Nevertheless, the Congress has always been adamant to make new legislations on gun control due to the many interests that surround the subject. The last considerable legislation on guns was passed in 1994, which banned assault weapons (ownership by the public). The ban was, however, lifted up after 10 years (Lott and John, 672). Numerous attempts to lower mass shooting and crime rates have been made, but due to the existence of divided opinions amongst law makers, gun control issue has remained a contentious subject. This paper explores the issue of gun control, and its relationship with numerous crimes in the United States.
More than 50 years since the Gun National Firearm Act was enacted, the government has not reported a raise in crime due to legally owned automatic weapons. It is evident that legally owned firearms do not contribute to the raising gun-related crimes. In Kennesaw City Council, the crime rate dropped by about “75 percent after a law that allowed household heads to own at least one firearm.” However, this has not encouraged other states to formulate such laws. It is the responsibility of the law to control distribution and use of firearms, but formulation of such laws should be guided by merits and demerits of gun use by the public.
Merits of Gun Control Law
Gun-related crimes have been constantly high in the US, especially in the poor urban areas where permeation of these lethal weapons is very easy. Availability of guns has also led to an increase in the number of criminal gangs that operate in these neighborhoods. Mostly, the members of these criminal groups are youths and young adults who normally would not be allowed to own guns. High profile crimes, such as assassinations of Martin Luther King, Presidents Robert F. Kennedy and John Lennon, and other mass shooting, such as Tucson shooting, the Columbine High School massacre, the Sikh temple shooting, the Beltway sniper shooting et cetera, have left many questions about the desire of the leadership to control guns in the US (Toppo, 2009).
In the year 2000, there were more than seventy thousand accidental and deliberate but nonfatal gun-related injuries in the US. Reports also indicate that most of the deaths caused by guns are suicides. According to Toppo (2009), a large percentage of the deaths are homicides carried out using guns, with just 40 percent being non-gun-related. The number of gun-related crimes was even higher during this period. This is a testimony of many weapons that are in the wrong hands.
There have been many deliberate efforts to counter problems related to gun usage at local level, state level and even at the national level, but most of the formulated solutions are short-term. Moreover, these decisions have not managed to solve the issue in a conclusive manner. Some of the steps taken towards reducing the crimes caused by guns are establishing a gun buyback program, restricting gun purchasing age to reduce instances of minors being in possession of guns, introducing firearm purchasing waiting period and firmer actions against crimes committed using firearms et cetera. Many legal steps to fight the problems related to gun usage by the public have been affected by interpretation of the law, especially the Second Amendment of the US Constitution.
The federal law is clear about ownership and registration of firearms. The law is also clear about methods of firearm acquisition, and buying guns from other states or through mails is prohibited. Minors are not allowed to own firearms, and transferring ownership to them is not allowed by the law. The current regime has enacted two laws that are aimed at reducing gun access by the citizens. It is agreeable that the lesser the number of guns in the public domain, the more stable the society becomes. Recklessness in the part of law enforcement has been blamed for some of the gun-related crimes that have characterized the American societies (Toppo 1).
Although the law has been trying to balance the national peace and security, some legislation, such as Brady Act, expose major loopholes in the law. The Congress has been enacting further legislation to manage ownership and the number of firearms in the public realm, but it has been obvious that they cannot exceed the recommendations of the Second Amendments. For instance, it would be retrogressive to enact laws that completely prohibit ownership of firearms. If firearm ownership were to be prohibited, deserving individuals who can use their weapons responsibly would be denied the chance to own weaponry (Koper and Jeffrey, 251). Gun ownership audit would be a better approach in order to involve the police in disarming all criminal gangs in the US.
Firearms are lethal weapons when they are in the wrong hands, but their importance as self defense tools cannot be overlooked. The state and federal government cannot adequately protect all American people who need additional security, thus it is important to provide them with firearms. Consequently, the citizens will be able to protect themselves, their families and their properties. Law enforcement agency should be involved to seize illegal firearms from criminal gangs and unlicensed individuals. All channels that are used to smuggle illegal weapons in the country should be manned to ensure only legally acquired guns are owned by individuals. Rigorous processes should be used to ensure that individuals that have a license to own guns can use them only for urgent purposes. Although gun shooting headlines have been captivating, it is important to note that there are many other methods that can be used to perpetrate crime, and due to the absence of firearms world would be a paradise.
Lott, John, John E. and Whitley. “Safe-Storage Gun Laws: Accidental Deaths, Suicides, and Crime”. Journal of Law and Economics 44.2 (2011): 659–689.
Koper, Christopher and Jeffrey, Roth “The impact of the 1994 federal assault weapon ban on gun markets: An assessment of short-term primary and secondary market effects”. Journal of Quantitative Criminology 18.3 (2010): 239–266.
Toppo, Greg. “10 years later, the real story behind Columbine.” April 14, 2009. USA TODAY. Web. 24 Nov. 2012.