Gun Control Essay
Failure of Gun Control LawsAmericans are faced with an ever-growing problem of violence.
Our streets have become a battleground where the elderly arebeaten for their social security checks, where terrified women areviciously attacked and raped, where teen-age gangstersshoot it out for a patch of turf to sell their illegal drugs, andwhere innocent children are caught daily in the crossfire of drive-byshootings. We cannot ignore the damage that these criminals are doingto our society, and we must take actions to stop thesehorrors.
However, the effort by some misguided individuals toeliminate the legal ownership of firearms does not address thereal problem at hand, and simply disarms the innocent law-abidingcitizens who are most in need of a form of self-defense.
To fully understand the reasons behind the gun controlefforts, we must look at the history of our country, and the rolefirearms have played in it. The second amendment to the Constitutionof the United States makes firearm ownership legal in this country.
There were good reasons for this freedom, reasons which persist today.
Firearms in the new world were used initially for hunting, andoccasionally for self-defense. However, when the colonists felt thatthe burden of British oppression was too much for them to bear, theypicked up their personal firearms and went to war. Standing againstthe British armies, these rebels found themselves opposed by thegreatest military force in the world at that time. The 18th centurywitnessed the height of the British Empire, but the rough band ofcolonial freedom fighters discovered the power of the Minuteman, theaverage American gun owner. These Minutemen, so named because theywould pick up their personal guns and jump to the defense of theircountry on a minute’s notice, served a major part in winning theAmerican Revolution. The founding fathers of this country understoodthat an armed populace was instrumental in fighting off oppression,and they made the right to keep and bear arms a constitutionallyguaranteed right.
Over the years, some of the reasons for owning firearms havechanged. As our country grew into a strong nation, we expandedwestward, exploring the wilderness, and building new towns on thefrontier. Typically, these new towns were far away from the centers ofcivilization, and the only law they had was dispensed by townsfolkthrough the barrel of a gun. Crime existed, but could be minimizedwhen the townspeople fought back against the criminals. Eventually,these organized townspeople developed police forces as their townsgrew in size. Fewer people carried their firearms on the street, butthe firearms were always there, ready to be used in self-defense.
It was after the Civil War that the first gun-controladvocates came into existence. These were southern leaders who wereafraid that the newly freed black slaves would assert their newfoundpolitical rights, and these leaders wanted to make it easier tooppress the free blacks. This oppression was accomplished by passinglaws making it illegal in many places for black people to ownfirearms. With that effort, they assured themselves that the blackpopulation would be subject to their control, and would not have theability to fight back. At the same time, the people who were mostintent on denying black people their basic rights walked around withtheir firearms, making it impossible to resist their efforts. Anunarmed man stands little chance against an armed one, and these armedmen saw their plans work completely. It was a full century before thecivil rights activists of the 1960s were able to restore theconstitutional freedoms that blacks in this country were granted inthe 1860s.
Today’s gun control activists are a slightly different breed.
They claim that gun violence in this country has gotten to a pointwhere something must be done to stop it. They would like to seecriminals disarmed, and they want the random violence to stop. I agreewith their sentiments. However, they are going about it in the wrongway. While claiming that they want to take guns out of the hands ofcriminals, they work to pass legislation that would take the guns outof the hands of law-abiding citizens instead. For this reason theefforts at gun control do not address the real problem of crime.
The simple definition of a criminal is someone who does notobey the law. The simple definition of a law-abiding citizen issomeone who does obey the law. Therefore, if we pass laws restrictingownership of firearms, which category of people does it affect? Thesimple answer is that gun control laws affect law-abiding citizensonly. By their very nature, the criminals will continue to violatethese new laws, they will continue to carry their firearms, and theywill find their efforts at crime much easier when they know that theirvictims will be unarmed. The situation is similar to that of thedisarmed blacks a century ago. Innocent people are turned into victimswhen new laws make it impossible for them to fight back. An unarmedman stands little chance against an armed one.
An interesting recent development has been the backlashagainst the gun-control advocates. In many states, including Floridaand Texas, citizens have stated that they want to preserve their rightto carry firearms for self-defense. Since the late 1980s, Florida hasbeen issuing concealed weapons permits to law-abiding citizens, andthese citizens have been carrying their firearms to defend themselvesfrom rampant crime. The result is that the incidence of violent crimehas actually dropped in contrast to the national average. Previously,Florida had been leading the nation in this category, and the citizensof that state have welcomed the change. Gun control advocates tried toclaim that there would be bloodshed in the streets when these citizenswere given the right to carry. They tried to claim that the cities ofFlorida would become like Dodge City with shootouts on every streetcorner. These gun control advocates were wrong. Over 200,000 concealedcarry permits have been issued so far, with only 36 of these permitsrevoked for improper use of a firearm. This statistic is easy tounderstand. It is the law-abiding citizens who are going through theprocess of getting concealed carry permits so that they may legallycarry a firearm. The people who go through this legal process do notwant to break the law, and they do not intend to break the law. Thepeople who do intend to break the law will carry their guns whether ornot the law allows them to do so.
Criminals will always find ways to get guns. In this countrywe have criminalized the use, possession, sale, and transportation ofmany kinds of narcotics, but it’s still easy for someone to take aride and purchase the drugs of their choice at street corner vendors.
Firearms and ammunition would be just as easy for these black-marketentrepreneurs to deliver to their customers. Today, criminals oftencarry illegal weapons, including sawed-off shotguns, machine guns, andhomemade zip-guns, clearly showing their disregard for the currentlaws which make these items illegal. And when they are caught, thecourts regularly dismiss these lesser weapons charges when prosecutingfor the more serious charges that are being committed with theweapons.
The gun control advocates have argued their case by demonizingthe gun itself, rather than addressing the people who commit violentcrimes. This is the main fallacy in their argument. They slyly attemptto claim that possession of a gun turns average citizens intobloodthirsty lunatics. This theory falls apart under close scrutiny.
If legal possession of a firearm caused this sort of attitude, thenwhy are crime rates highest in areas such as Washington, D.C. and NewYork City which have strict gun control laws? And why are crime ratesdropping in states such as Florida where private ownership of firearmsis encouraged? Simply stated, legal ownership of a gun does not causecrime.
The most recent efforts of the gun control lobby has been toclaim that certain types of guns and ammunition are inherently evil.
They assign emotional catch phrases such as assault weapons and copkiller bullets to broad categories of firearms and ammunition in thehopes that people will believe that some guns have an evil nature.
Most people who are unfamiliar with firearms do not fully understandwhat these phrases mean, and they accept the terms being used withoutquestion. What people do not often understand is that the termassault weapon has been defined to include all semi- automaticrifles, and cop killer has been defined to include any bullet thatcan penetrate type two body armor. It comes as a surprise to mostpeople that a large number of simple hunting rifles can do both. Doesownership of one of these weapons cause people to become massmurderers? It does not, and we must not fall into the trap of blamingthe sword for the hand that wields it.
So I’ve shown that the act of making it illegal to ownfirearms does little to prevent criminals from getting guns. Theselaws only restrict people who respect the law itself, the people whowould only use firearms for legal purposes anyway. And when we givepeople the right to defend themselves, we find that criminals startlooking for other victims out of fear that they will become thevictims themselves. We must work to reduce crime in America, but weshould look at the problem realistically, and develop plans that wouldbe effective. It is obvious that gun control laws are neitherrealistic, nor effective in reducing crime. Therefore, we must directour efforts toward controlling crime, not controlling legal ownershipof firearms.