The debate over gun control in the United States has reached new heights in the past several years. The recent shooting in Santa Fe, Texas and in our local communities have brought it to national attention. This heated debate appears to be split evenly for and against firearm restrictions, with both sides arguing strongly for their case. The U.S. has minimal gun control measures, even though many other countries have more stringent regulations and, as a result, have much lower gun-related crime rates. As the world’s beacon of modernity and democracy, should America enact gun control measures to improve safety, or should it allow the people to freely possess their firearms?
While some argue that gun control would make it safer for the American people, there are still others who argue that restrictions on firearms would increase, rather than reduce, crime. Nevertheless, digging into the debates on gun control from academic sources can help to clarify the situation. Guns, or firearms, are weapons that use gunpowder to fire projectiles at high speeds. They have played significant roles in major conflicts in American history, from The American Revolution to the Vietnam War.
Recently, guns have gained a very negative connotation, especially in the U.S. media. Due to the many shootings that occurred in recent years, the American public called for political action regarding the regulation of these weapons. Today, gun control “refers to laws and policies designed to restrict the manufacture, sale, or use of firearms” (DeGrazia 3). Some of these measures include background checks, restrictions on ammunition, and licensing for gun owners. Part of the debate for and against gun control can be seen in the writings of proponent David DeGrazia and opponents Timothy Hsiao and C’zar Bernstein.
In his journal, The Case for Moderate Gun Control, David DeGrazia argues that enacting temperate gun control measures is the best policy for the United States. Recent studies support that it is more dangerous to keep a firearm in a house than to not have one (DeGrazia 11). DeGrazia emphasizes that arguments in the home are more likely to become deadly when a firearm is available. At the same time, both homicide and suicide are more likely to occur in homes with guns (DeGrazia 11).
Therefore, having an accessible gun in the house increases the chance of family members being shot and killed. The author also argues that firearms decrease the overall safety of society (DeGrazia 12). He correlates that the amount of firearm possession is related to the number of voluntary and involuntary gun deaths. He provides a study that analyzed the relationship between these two variables, which concluded that the U.S. has “89 guns per 100 people,” resulting in higher murder rates than any other country (DeGrazia 13). Therefore, the author argues that moderate gun control is necessary for safety inside and outside of the home (DeGrazia 14).
Thus, those who agree with DeGrazia claim that gun control is an effective means in reducing the number of gun-related deaths in the United States. On the other hand, gun rights advocates, such as Timothy Hsiao and C’zar Bernstein, argue that allowing citizens to carry their firearms can deter would-be criminals. In their article, Against Moderate Gun Control, they cite multiple studies that prove crime rates have reduced as a result of concealed carry laws (Hsiao and Bernstein 311). For example, murder rates fell “between 1.5% to 2.3%” annually while “a right-to-carry law was in effect” (Plassmann and Whitley qtd. in Hsiao and Bernstein 311). Most importantly, they report that “40 percent” of criminals changed their minds because “they knew or believed that the victim was armed” (Rossi and Wright qtd. in Hsiao and Bernstein 311). They also state that if a victim is in possession of a firearm, the victim faces significantly lower chances of being severely injured.
For instance, it was found that the success of a robbery being committed fell by “92 percent” when the victim had a firearm (Guerette and Santana qtd. in Hsiao and Bernstein 320). Therefore, Hsiao and Bernstein argue that possessing a firearm discourages would-be criminals from committing their crime. Hence, opponents to gun control contend that having and carrying a gun will increase personal safety. Their conclusion is that reducing gun ownership by enacting gun control measures would diminish the safety of the people.
The accessibility of a firearm is dangerous both in and out of the home. Simply having a gun stored in the house can potentially cause simple arguments to develop into life-threatening situations. At the same time, data shows that gun ownership is related to more homicides, especially in the United States. Most importantly, in the light of recent shootings in past years, more American people are demanding stricter gun control measures to be enacted by the U.S. federal government. However, gun control measures are difficult to enact or enforce.
Past Supreme Court rulings have maintained the right for the American people to possess and use firearms based on the Second Amendment. Data shows that many crimes have been deterred by the use or possession of a firearm. Evidence also shows that most criminals are unwilling to carry out their act when they believe their victim is armed. While it is true that reducing the accessibility of firearms can reduce the number of gun-related deaths, not having a firearm available can make an individual a vulnerable victim. Even though possessing a firearm can increase the lethality of arguments, it also makes a criminal think twice before committing a crime.
Additionally, if the United States struggles to enforce its current gun laws, how much more difficult would it be to pass and enforce new legislation? By monitoring proper licensing, the U.S. can prevent the unauthorized use of firearms by improper persons. On top of that, positive education, training, and storage is the best solution to the current dilemma. In conclusion, allowing licensed citizens to keep and use their firearms is much more beneficial in the long run.
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