Essay Preview: Gun Control
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Many people are killed from gun violence each year in the United States as a result from the unauthorized or unlawful acquisition of firearms. By making it difficult to obtain a gun and stiffening, the punishment for those who are caught illegally for possessing a firearm will ultimately save lives. Many anti-gun activists strongly believe gun control will not prevent violence but violates our Second Amendment rights and may increase criminal assaults.
Increased enforcement of gun control laws can save lives and lower the National crime rate; however, they can also violate the rights of our law-abiding citizens. The increased violence and murder rate has sparked great concern over gun ownership in America. Unfortinualy, there are people that will argue that more laws to enforce gun control is useless and will not prevent violent crimes that result in death, but will prevent law abiding citizens the right to defend themselves.
According to annual statistics, there are nearly 30,000 gun deaths in America each year. Gun violence is defined as gun suicides and attempts, gun assaults, and homicides, and accidents. More than half the homes in the United States possess firearms, so it is hardly surprising that they rank among the the leading causes of death. According to statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics and the Department of Veteran Affairs, during the 20th Century more Americans were killed by gun violence within the United States than died from combat wounds, disease, and accidents in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and Gulf and Iraq war combined. Next to automobile accidents, gun violence is the second leading cause of injury and death in the United States. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control every six minutes an American is shot. To prevent gun related deaths there must be gun control laws that will make it more difficult for unauthorized people to gain access to guns.
Facts show that most criminal homicides are caused from violent assaults where no criminal motive is involved and the use of a firearm it the weapon of choice that the assailants frequently want to use. Guns are seven times as likely to kill as any other type of criminal assault and 70 percent of all criminal killings are committed with the use of a gun (Zimring, 2004). Based on statistics from the Department of Justice, the homicide rate in the US was 6.1 per 100,000 people in 2000, 52 percent of those homicides were committed with guns (Mazzuca, 2002). The fewer guns on the streets ultimately will reduce the number of people who die from violent crimes.
Guns are continually being possessed illegally because the laws against illegal possession are not being adequately enforced or properly addressed. According to the United Nations Report on Firearm Regulation, Crime Prevention, and Criminal Justice (1997), the United States has weaker firearm regulations and higher numbers of deaths involving firearms than all other industrialized nations. There are limitations to legislation that denies high-risk users access to firearms. Again, this kind of a law is difficult to enforce because it needs continuous police surveillance and relies heavily on the ineligible person actually being caught in possession of a firearm. It assumes that the potential outcome of being caught and punished will detour such persons from obtaining firearms. Moreover, there will always be alternative ways of obtaining a weapon, whether it be through the black market, theft, or getting another person to purchase the weapon. Screening systems also carry a cost and imply delays. However, even with these limitations, such legislation is a step in the right direction, as it can help to ensure that firearms are not being sold directly to convicted felons or to minors. To overcome some of these difficulties, many states now require gun owners to register their weapons. However, many crimes are committed with stolen weapons that are used by someone other than the registered legal owner. In the study, “The Enforcement Gap, Federal Gun Laws Ignored” analyzed federal gun prosecutions across the nation from 2000 to 2002. The study found that 20 of 22 major federal gun statutes are rarely enforced and that there is a vast enforcement gap between the number of gun crimes and the number of federal prosecutions. Guns are easily winding up in the wrong hands of convicted criminals, under age children, and terrorist. The majority of prosecuted cases involving street criminals were in possession of a firearm. When individuals or convicted criminals are in possession of a firearm are rarely prosecuted. During the three-year study, “The Enforcement Gap, Federal Gun Laws Ignored”, federal prosecutors in Washington brought just two cases for possession of a gun in a school zone even though there were 137 instances of guns on school grounds in just one of those years. Criminals are able to purchase guns through straw purchases. A straw purchase is when someone has another person buy a gun on his or her behalf. Members of terrorist organizations have purchased guns by taking advantage of the gun show loophole (Page, 2001). The gun show loophole allows the sale and purchase of a firearm at a gun show where the purchaser avoids a background check. Background checks are not required for the purchase of a gun from private sellers with no questions asked. Without background, checks criminals and convicted felons can purchase guns at any gun show in America. According to trafficking investigations, gun shows are the second leading source of guns recovered illegally. Suspected terrorist have even purchased guns at gun shows by hiding their immigration status (Page, 2001) Cleary, more needs to be done. Congress should pass a federal law instituting universal background checks on all firearm transfers. Until that day, individual states should not hesitate to act on their own to close this dangerous loophole.
In America, our children are in danger, far too many children have been killed by a firearm. Family members, friends, and strangers shoot many children. Many more are killing themselves. The children or young people who are not killed or injured are the survivors of gun violence. Every year, in developed and developing countries across the globe, thousands of children and young adolescents die while playing with loaded guns. Additionally, studies have shown that adolescents are vulnerable in terms of firearm misuse and successful suicide attempts. Gun violence is a huge concern among children in the United States. According to the childrens Defense Fund annual report, 2,827