Gun Control

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The Debate over Gun Control

Crime and guns. The two seem to go hand in hand with one another. But are the two really associated? Do guns necessarily lead to crime? And if so do laws placing restrictions on firearm ownership and use stop the crime or protect the citizens? These are the questions many citizens and lawmakers are asking themselves when setting about to create gun control laws. The debate over gun control, however, is nothing new. In 1924, Presidential Candidate, Robert La Follete said, “our choice is not merely to support or oppose gun control but to decide who can own which guns under what conditions.” Clearly this debate still goes on today and is the very reason for the formation of gun control laws.

Guns are extremely powerful weapons. They can cause destruction, harm or even death. They can be used to defend and protect or to threaten and kill. Any way you look at it, guns are powerful tools, not only physically but socially. As college students it is important to stay abreast of the current events and issues circulating our country today, one of which is the controversial issue of gun control. It is extremely important to pay attention to where gun control laws are headed. The directions they take not only affect our nation and society but our future as well as we all move to communities and begin to raise families.

So why is gun control such a hot debate? Perhaps to answer this question it would be important to look at some key statistics concerning handguns in our society. In this nation, where nearly half of all US households own at least one gun, nearly 30,000 people die from a gunshot each year (Dahl). From this alone it is no wonder gun control is such an important issue, however as bad as this may seem, the number of firearm related incidents have decreased over the years. In the early 1990’s the number of people killed or wounded by firearms soared. Since 1993 however the US has seen a steady drop in deaths due to firearm (The Lancet). Fatal firearms accidents have declined as well, nearly 40 percent in the last decade, and are now at the lowest levels ever recorded (Poe). So why the sudden drop? Antigun advocates would like to attribute this to an increase in gun control laws while pro gun advocates point to a decrease in unemployment rates along with other social factors.

The real question here is, do gun control laws work? From the statistics it would appear so. But in order to fully understand the issue it is important to first take a look at the current gun control laws that are now in effect. There are a number of laws both at the federal and the state level restricting the sale, purchase and use of guns. Though they vary from state to state there are some basic federal laws which are in affect nationwide. Some of these include that no person convicted of a crime can own a gun, a person must be 21 or older to purchase a handgun and that “persons who engage in the business of buying or selling firearms must be licensed” (NRA). Perhaps one of the laws having the most profound impact recently was the passing of the 1993 Brady Handgun Control Act which is now in affect in 32 states. This act requires a waiting period for the purchase of a handgun as well as background check system to ensure against the possession of guns by criminals.

The effects of gun control laws have been extensive and far-reaching though they don’t altogether deter people from acquiring a firearm. The Brady Handgun Control Act made it increasingly more difficult and trying process to purchase and own a gun. Gun control advocates say this is not enough, that although firearm related incidents have declined since its enactment tougher laws are needed or more acts of firearm violence will continue to plague the nation. Pro-gun advocates see gun control laws as only a way for the government to control its citizens. The real debate, for both sides, comes down to who should own a gun and under what...
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