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Gun Control in America

One of the biggest issues facing our nation today seems to be gun control. The government is constantly proposing legislation for more and more gun laws. There are people that feel strongly on both sides of this issue. Neither side wants more gun violence; the question is how to control gun violence. The Second Amendment to the United States 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(U. S. Constitution).

The founding fathers included this in our bill of rights because they feared the federal government might oppress the population if the people did not have the means to defend themselves as a nation and as individuals. Law-abiding citizens should have the right to protect themselves against danger. One way citizens can protect themselves is through concealed carry permits. A concealed carry permit allows the permit holder to carry a gun (concealed) in most public places. If an applicant meets a set of requirements, a concealed carry permit is issued.

These requirements may consist of a licensing fee, safety training course, fingerprinting, a clean record and no history of mental illness. This is also known as shall-issue laws. Thirty-two states have enacted “shall-issue” concealed carry laws (New Mexico being the most recent in April 2001), and one state, Vermont, does not require any permit of its residents. Florida enacted this legislation in 1987 and many felt this was not in the states best interest. People said that the Sunshine State would soon be known as the Gunshine State(Florida Department of State).

Surprisingly those people were wrong, the homicide and violent crimes dropped faster than the national average. Very few people who have a concealed carry permit commit violent crimes. David Kopel, Research director at the Independence Institute comments on Floridas concealed carry experience: What we can say with some confidence is that allowing more people to carry guns does not cause an increase in crime. In Florida, where 315,000 permits have been issued, there are only five known instances of violent gun crime by a person with a permit.

This makes a permit-holding Floridian the cream of the crop of law-abiding citizens, 840 times less likely to commit a violent firearm crime than a randomly selected Floridian without a permit. (B-5) In the state of Florida men hold 85% and women hold 15% of the concealed carry permits. The largest groups of people that have concealed carry permits are men between the ages of 36-50 in the state of Florida. The lowest group is women between the ages of 66-up. There are currently 259,710 concealed carry permits active in the state of Florida.

Dade County holds 35,536 active permits as opposed to Bay Countys 1688 active permits. (Florida Department of State) John Lott and David Mustard from Chicago law school examined crime statistics from 1977-1992 for all US counties, they concluded that the states allowing their residents to carry concealed weapons had significant reduction in violent crime. Our most conservative estimates show that by adopting shall-issue laws, states reduced murders by 8. 5%, rapes by 5%, aggravated assaults by 7% and robbery by 3%.

If those states that did not permit concealed handguns in 1992 had permitted them back then, citizens might have been spared approximately 1,570 murders, 4,177 rapes, 60,000 aggravated assaults and 12,000 robberies. To put it even more simply criminals, we found, respond rationally to deterrence threats… While support for strict gun-control laws usually has been strongest in large cities, where crime rates are highest, that’s precisely where right-to-carry laws have produced the largest drops in violent crimes (Lott).

Concealed-carry laws give the citizens the right to defend themselves against criminal attack. And since criminals can strike almost anywhere at any time, the last thing government should do is take away a citizens most effective means of defending themselves. Carrying a handgun in public may not be for everyone, but it is a right that government should respect. It is a fact that not all people are the same size or possess the same amount of strength. Sometimes people must defend themselves from stronger attackers, or sometimes from multiple attackers.

This is especially true for women since they are, on average, smaller than men. Also, older people are generally less able to physically defend themselves than younger adults are. Everyone deserves to be safe, and with the proper firearms training a gun can be the great equalizer against an assailant. Firearms are the most effective tools used today for self-defense, but they are only useful if they are available. Statistics show that people who are attacked by a criminal are safer if they use a weapon to resist their attacker than if they do not resist.

In addition, those who resist with a gun are less likely to be injured than those who use a less effective weapon, such as a knife. More gun control laws will not have a significant effect on crime rate because the criminal does not abide by laws. Criminals acquire most guns through black market sources with no regard for existing or future laws. Only the law-abiding citizen will be affected by more gun restrictions. If guns are outlawed then only outlaws will have guns.

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