Handguns should be outlawed in the United States with the exception of law enforcement purposes. Two weeks before Christmas Day, 1987, 17 year-old Kendall Merriweather was shot and killed a few blocks from his high school in southeast Washington, D. C. Police arrested two teenage students who they believe killed Merriweather while trying to steal his “boom box” radio. A few days earlier, in Pasadena, Texas, a 14-year-old eight grader at Deepwater Junior High School whipped a snub-nosed . 38 out of his jacket and held the assistant principal hostage for two hours.
Police said the boy was distraught over his parents’ recent separation. (Stanza 19) These were not isolated incidents. All across America, the number of kids using- and being harmed by-guns is rising at an alarming rate. According to the U. S. Department of Justice, more than 27,000 youths between 12 and 15 were handgun victims in 1985, up from an average of 16,500 for each of the previous years (Stanza 19). The increase in gun use often stems from urban crack trade. Many crack gangs have more firepower than a small police department.
Whatever the cause, authorities are finding the use f handguns by youngsters an extremely diff-icult trend to stop ( Stanza 19). As long as pistols are as easily accessible as candy, people of all ages will continue to be on both ends of the barrel. Kids in America have reached a new level of criminal violence that seems linked to the nation’s ever-expanding arsenal of handguns. Guns are everywhere, and they are being used in increasingly horrific ways (Morganthau 33). According to Thomas Morganthau, author of Why Not Real Gun Controll? , in America, firearms kill more people between the ages of 15 and 24 than do all natural auses combined.
According to a survey taken in 1993, gun deaths, including suicides, now total more than 37,000 a year, and handgun homicides have reached 13,000 a year. The big question that everyone is asking now, is “What should we do about this? “. The answer outraged voters say in poll after poll, is to pass more restrictive laws to control handguns. This mood is moving a reluctant Congress toward renewed consideration of the Brady Bill, named after Jim Brady, who was permanently disabled in John Hickney’s attempt to assassin-ate Ronald Regan in 1981 ( Morganthau 33).
The Brady Bill is a common sensical and an ad-mittedly modest attempt to impose a five-day waiting period for the purchase of handguns, and to require local police agencies to make a “reasonable” effort to ensure that the buyer does not have a criminal record (Morganthau 34). But the bill rests on a largely unsupported assumption that the combination of a waiting period and police background checks will somehow reduce handgun crime. There is no real proof of this, because of the simple fact that background checks cannot catch crime-minded “wanna-be’s” who do not have records yet (Morganthau 34).
Handgun Control Inc. , the lobbying group that is the prime backer for the Brady bill, contends that the bill will work and that it is only a first step toward a “sensible” national gun-control policy that need not include an outright ban on handguns or some form of licensing for gun owners (Morganthau 34). The real problem, according to President Bill Clinton, is handguns, which are easily concealed and widely available on the street. But no one thinks Congress will be able to conquer its fear of the National Rifle Association to do anything much about limiting handgun sales any time soon.
And that, in all probability, means America’s tragic obsession with lethal weaponry will continue for years to come ( Morganthau 34). The cost of crime in America is adding up at a surprisingly quick rate. Americans are scared. The fear of crime permeates their lives. They worry about being raped or mugged in parking lots at gunpoint. A high percentage of these muggers and rapists are kids who get their hands on illegal handguns. Kids these days spend too much time watching t. v. , and some people believe that this leads to the violence.
There is violence everywhere on t. , and with all the time kids are spending watching it, the more they believe it is o. k. Part of what’s scary about the latest wave of crime is the brutality involved, especially the widespread use of firearms. From 1986 to 1991, robberies increased by 27%, but the use of firearms during these robberies increased by 49% (Mandel 85). Can this violence be broken? Certainly a federal law making handguns ill-egal would sharply decrease the number of guns sold and make their street price much higher, though, like Prohibition in the 1920s or the war gainst drugs in the 1980s, it might be very ex-pensive to enforce.
But with 60 million handguns already in private hands, even an effective ban on guns might not be enough. One intriguing possibility is to return to approach that has been tried successfully in the past- buying back handguns. In 1974, the City of Baltimore de-cided to offer $50 per gun. In three months, 13,792 guns were turned in. A similar program today could help get illegally owned guns off the street, especially if combined with national gun control ( Mandel 85). It is growingly hard for law enforcement officers to fight a war on the treets against gang members and drug dealers who possesses more firepower than that of the officers.
This can all be stopped if Congress would face up to the National Rifle Association and pass a law bann-ing the manufacturing and selling of handguns. In the end, no one solution will work, and no cheap and easy cure is possible. But with the help of the community, and if everyone pulls together, we can get handguns out of the hands of America’s youth. And for these extremely strong reasons listed in this paper, I once again state that handguns should be outlawed with the exception of law enforcement purposes.