Gun Control: Overview
The issue of gun control has been debated for a long time, probably ever
since they were invented. The gun is a small, rather easy to obtain, weapon that
is lethal if used in the right (or wrong) way. This makes the gun an extremely
dangerous factor in our lives. If used improperly, a gun could be lethal to not
only the target, but the user as well. The availability of guns has sky rocketed
in the past decade or so, and the immense population of guns in our society make
it a dangerous place to live. Gun violence claims approximately 38,000 lives in
the U.S. each year, including 5,000 children and teenagers.(1) In the past few
years, many steps have been taken to help reduce the risk of fatal accidents or
intentions. One of these steps was the ban of assault weapons.
Two years ago, congress passed a landmark bill, banning the sale,
manufacture and, importation of semi-automatic assault weapons and large
capacity ammunition clips. Due to this ban, the number of crimes traced to
assault weapons has decreased almost 20% from 1994.(2) This ban was repealed by
the House of Representatives. On march 22, 1996 another big legislation in the
fight against guns was the Brady bill, which demands a 5 day waiting period for
all handgun purchases. These legislation’s are some what effective and in
different ways. The only real way to eliminate most gun violence is to eliminate
the availability of guns. Surely making guns illegal would do this but this
raises a very important issue.
If you outlaw guns, only the outlaws will have guns. Simply put, no
matter how many bans you put out, there will always be the black market to
support the criminals in the U.S. Needless to say the law abiding citizens of
our country would be defenseless. The NRA has made sure that this will never
happen. What the United States needs is some one to pass a bill that will
protect all our citizens. Some men and women in Washington think they are that
some one. Some think that there should be more availability of guns. Let’s see
what they both think.
Two years ago, as I mentioned, Congress passed a ban on the sale,
manufacture, and importation of all semi-automatic assault weapons. Soon after
the 104th Congress resumed power, The House of Representatives repealed the ban
as a pay back to the National Rifle Association (NRA) who had funded thousands
of dollars to Congressional candidates through their Political Action Committee
(PAC). According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the NRA has spent over
$3 million in 1993 and 1994 alone on campaign commercials. The NRA is one of the
major organizations and the biggest in the fight for pro-gun ownership.
According to polls, 65% of Americans say they would be more likely to vote for a
Congressman who would not vote to repeal this. 18% said they would vote for some
one who would repeal this ban and 15% said it would not effect their vote. It is
important for Americans to know how their Congressmen stand on the issue.(3)
In 1981, the current president Ronald Reagan and his assistant, James
Brady, were both shot in an assignation attempt on Reagan. Brady was paralyzed
and has been ever since. The man who shot them had bought his gun no longer than
a day or two before the shooting.
On March of 94′ a bill, quite appropriately named The Brady Bill was
passed demanding a mandatory waiting period on all hand gun purchases. The
period is used to do background checks on the customer. Each state has the right
to regulate restrictions as to what on this background check would prevent a
customer from purchasing a gun. In Massachusetts, the restrictions are as
The person must be over the age of 18.
The person must be a United States Citizen
The person must never have been convicted of felony
The person must never have been convicted of a drug charge, even a
The person must not have any reported mental illnesses.
In other states these laws are different but, they are very similar.
This bill was signed by President Bill Clinton. Although this is a federal bill
a problem arises with states not willing to accept this bill for some reason are
using the 10th amendment to ignore the Brady Bill. The 10th amendment gives the
powers, not given or prohibited by the constitution, to the states. It is a slim
chance, if any, but some lawyers in these states are fighting the Brady Bill.
Another restriction on the purchase and owner ship of guns is a
mandatory permit or License to carry firearms. These permits are issued by a
citizens local police department and must be presented when buying a firearm.
These must also be shown when a police officer request a gun owner to display
his/her license. If you do not have a permit and carry a gun it is a mandatory
sentence of one year.
Politicians feel this bill will help prevent people from getting mad
with some one and going out, buying a gun and killing them the next day. This
also reduces the convicted criminals sources to the black market. Recently,
there was a suggestion for a increase of 100,000 police officers. This is still
being decided but it certainly couldn’t hurt. What does the future hold for gun
control? It all depends on who we vote for.
President Clinton during the past four years signed two major bills for
gun control. The Brady Bill which I discussed earlier and the ban on semi-
automatic weapons. Both actions were criticized by the NRA and other pro-gun
ownership organizations. In fact the NRA’s lobbying efforts are the reason it
took thirteen year to pass the Brady Bill and the why the ban on semi-automatic
weapons was repealed. The NRA say’s “Bill Clinton has had the most anti-Second
amendment Administration in our history, and he’s proud of it.”(4) They believe
that if Clinton achieves his goal for another four years in the house, he will
eventually license, tax, and ban the second amendment out of existence.
President Clinton’s administration believes that he will bring many pro-
gun control supporters to the 105th congress. The NRA takes a direct approach to
the second amendment. The Right to Bear Arms, period. Clinton, an the other hand,
takes a different approach, that of a more complicated nature. He has passed
different bills with different regulations on buying a gun and has said to, by
the NRA, the have created gray areas of the law. But if the NRA were president,
then this country would bleed to death. We simply can not let anyone and
everyone have the power to kill another human being by twitching their index
finger. On the other hand, the absolute ban of guns would not successfully
disarm the criminals while it would disarm the civilians of the country.
The NRA has sent many complaints to the Clinton administration about the
destruction of guns. Clinton’s gun buy back program destroyed countless firearms
including collectors items and valuable guns that had never been fired. They
complain that historians, collectors and, target shooters are not happy. They
claim the reckless destruction of historical artifacts is inexcusable. However
it is said that the rate of gun violence has gone down since the passage of the
Brady Bill and the gun buy back program. This program however was very costly
but, not as costly as 38,000 American lives each year.
Maybe a different approach to the gun control question is that of Canada.
Canada’s crime rate and gun violence are impressively lower than the U.S. Lets
take a look at how they do things. Aside from just guns, bow and arrows,
crossbows, and just about any harmful projectile is subject to licensing in
Canada. Any .25, .32 caliber pistol, or guns with barrels shorter than 4.14” are
completely banned. Everyone must buy there own gun, meaning not to give them as
gifts or anything. Bill Clinton praises Canada’s system of gun control highly.
All guns there must be registered by make, model, and, serial number. A new law
in Canada will soon ban 58% of there guns, even non-firing replica’s of these
particular weapons. (I don’t think this is necessary). This maybe extreme but
registering your gun is not difficult to do. I think if Clinton is reelected,
some or even lots of these laws will be implemented in this country.
Not as much can be said about Bob Dole’s views because he has not been
as much of a spot light however, he has done allot for gun control as a U.S.
Senator. On November 23, 1993, the Brady bill was considered dead for a year. It
was killed by bipartisan filibuster. On Nov. 24, Bob Dole agreed to stop the
filibusters and pass the Brady Bill. However, he opposes a seven day waiting
period for gun purchases. Bob Dole’s big claim to fame on the gun control issue
is that when only three senators were on the floor, and all others were home for
Thanksgiving, only he could have rejected the vote and the future of the Brady
Bill conceivably laid in his hands. He allowed the bill to pass. Bob Dole
quote’s on his actions:
“I know the Gun Owners of America, another group, have a little different view.
They are blaming me for the Brady Bill that passed because I sat there with the
majority leader and everybody else had gone home, and we made an agreement. We
let the bill pass. I was picketed, and they called me a traitor and everything
else… because that happened.”(5)
On November 19, 1993 Bob Dole voted for the crime bill. This bill
contained the Feinstein gun ban, proposed by a California Senator, on more than
180 firearms. Two weeks earlier Dole broke an agreement a prevented a filibuster
on the Feinstein amendment from ever happening. Dole urged Clinton while on
national TV to support this senate crime bill. On February 94′ Bob Dole
introduced the S 1815 a bill that made the government pay people for turning in
guns. Another of Bob Doles ideas is mandatory sentencing for criminals who use
firearms in committing crimes.
A study conducted by two Ohio coroners and two professors from Case
Western reserve University conducted a study proving the ineffectiveness of a
gun for protection. Their result was surprising. It is seventy percent more
likely for a gun in the home to kill some one you know than an intruder. They
can out to the fact the for every one intruder killed by a gun, four family
members are killed. To put it simply, if you come for a large five person family
and you shot a burglar coming into your house, statistically, you have killed
your entire family. Another study has proven that seventy percent of murders in
the U.S. were committed by family members or acquaintances. People allegedly get
so angered they use the protection gun to shot a family member. This contributes
to the percent of family members killed. Would people think twice before killing
or committing if they had to use a knife or a bat? Some people think so. I agree.
Researchers have proven also that area’s of the country that have high gun
control, have lower crime rates. If no one has a gun, you need not protect
yourself with one, true? Toledo used to be the highest gun populated gun city in
America, they passed a gun control law and successfully dropped the crime rate
Countries with gun control as liberal as the United States’ are hard to
come by. This may contribute to the nearly 85 times more gun deaths per year
than England, who have a strict gun law. Japan has the lowest murder rate of all.
Standing at a low, .02 percent per 100,000 people Japan is a country to learn
from. In 1972, Japan suffered a astoundingly low 28 gun deaths. The U.S. on the
other hand incurred 10,017 deaths. Japan has completely outlawed the possession
of hand guns for civilians. This may not be as bad of an idea as I though.
Although Japan holds the idolized lowest rate, they are closer to the rate of
other countries than the U.S. They, in fact, are not at the extreme end of the
spectrum the U.S. is. England, France, and the Netherlands are all examples of
major countries with low murder rates. They all have one this in common, they
require citizens to register all guns. Point being, if you won’t protection,
protect yourself by keeping guns out of the house.(7)
My practical thoughts on gun control in the U.S. are this, one can not
follow the Second amendment literally and give the country complete freedom to
bear arms or, completely take away a citizens right to protection. Because not
all citizens are fit to own a gun and, not all guns are fit to be owned by
common citizens. My thoughts one the matter lie in the middle, most near the
ideas of the Canadian system of gun control.
I think that a mandatory waiting period for the purchase of a gun is an
extremely good idea in that it will not allow minors, criminals, drug users, or
mentally ill people to buy guns. A permit is good idea so that police may check
to see if a gun owner is legally certified. Since protection and hobby are the
main (and should be the only) reason for a civilian to buy a gun, guns that are
made for killing, for example all assault weapons, should be banned. There is
simply no need for them. This would put only protective guns into the hands of
law abiding citizens.
Now what about criminals. They get guns by making them, buying imports
or let’s not forget stealing them. First off, In my opinion it should be illegal
to import guns or gun related material to anyone accept the U.S. government. The
black market would surly suffer. For those who make guns, there should be a
restricted supply of materials to make guns. This supply should be government
regulated. All firearms should be registered by make, model, and serial number,
and police should be able to run checks on this mass catalog of guns and owners.
While I am on the topic of police, the number of police should be increased to
help increase the number of confiscated guns. Not much in my opinion can be do
about stolen guns. If a criminal takes a gun from a citizen who should have a
gun, there is no way any bill or law can stop him. Since it is obviously already
illegal. The only way to stop that is more police.
Simply put, an intense amount of regulation should be put on guns. It’s
like having a fire. If you keep it in your fire place, know exactly were it is,
and control it, it will heat your house and cause no danger. If you randomly
spread fire everywhere forgetting where you placed it, lighting it where it
doesn’t belong, you then have a problem and you may get hurt. Well, the fire is
spreading fast and people are burning everywhere. The government has no idea
where the guns in this country are or where the next piece ,of what once was our
home, will burst into flames. If we don’t act quick, this country will burn to
the ground. We need a giant fire extinguisher and a responsible person operating
it. We have to put the fire back in it’s place.
My person al views on gun control are a bit different. Ideally I would
become the Japanese as far as gun control and outlaw guns for private citizens.
I think that if your want protection, get a security alarm. 1 out of every 4
burglaries occur when the home owner is not even home, and in no danger. A
toddler looking around in her daddy’s bedroom however should not have to be. If
you want a gun for leisure or hunting that is a different situation but take my
word for it, getting a gun for “protection” is a false sense of security.