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Gun Control

By Raminaldo-Amin Apr 18, 2015 2291 Words
Gun Control
Guns kill; not people. Many would argue the opposite and say that it is down to the individual to control himself or herself. The facts state the obvious and I will prove to you that gun control can save lives. Since the tragic school shooting in Newton Connecticut, gun control has taken center stage around the country and with our politicians. Here are some facts from the FBI Crime Reports; of the 452 people murdered in Illinois in 2011 83% were killed with guns... the highest percentage in the country. Washington D.C. had the worst gun crime rate per capita in the country in 2011 for every 100,000 people there were 12 gun murders and 242 robberies at gun point. California had the highest gun violence rate in the country for 2011 with 1,220 gun murders. As one can see, guns clearly are a major danger to our society and have caused deaths that could’ve been stopped. How are guns so easily available? What are the laws that control guns? Gun laws in the United States regulate the sale and possession of firearms and ammunition. Laws vary from state to state and are independent of Federal laws. This variance could cause some discrepancy throughout our country. A Harvard Study titled “Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?” looks at figures for intentional deaths throughout continental Europe and compares them with the U.S. to show that more gun control does not necessarily lead to lower death rates or violent crime. I find this quite hard to believe but it may come down to the different rules in Europe to the United States. Since the findings don’t clearly demonstrate that more gun laws may in fact increase death rates, the study says that no real conclusion can be drawn. The study showed that numbers for Eastern European gun ownership and the corresponding murder rates, it is readily apparent that less guns does not mean less death. In Russia, where the rate of gun ownership is 4,000 per 100,000 inhabitants, the murder rate was 20.52 people per 100,000 in 2002. That same year in Finland, where the rate of gun ownership is exceedingly higher--39,000 per 100,000--the murder rate was almost nil, at 1. I find this shocking and can’t understand how this is possible. It looks simple that the U.S. should follow Europe’s gun control ways, but let’s get to the history behind the U.S. gun control laws.

The history of the United States’ gun control is vast and it all started when the right to bear and arm was ratified in the constitution. Not until 1837 was the right to bear an arm questioned when Georgia passed a law banning handguns, but this was ruled as unconstitutional. The first law that put a restriction on guns was The Federal Firearms Act of 138. This law put limitations on selling ordinary firearms. It also required people selling guns to obtain a Federal Firearm License, keep records of who they sold guns to, and made it illegal to sell guns to convicts. The Gun Control Act of 1968 regulates the seller and makes sure his or her records are correct. This law also expands on the people not able to own guns, such as illegal drug users or the mentally handicapped. After a massacre in Stockton, California where 5 kids were killed in a playground, California bans the possession of semi-automatic assault weapons. The whole country took this to a next level and with The Crime Control Act of 1990, manufacturing and importing semi-automatic assault weapons became illegal in the U.S. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act imposed a 5 day waiting period on the purchase of a handgun and required that local law enforcement agencies conduct background checks on buyers of handguns. The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 banned manufacturing, possessing, importing, or selling of a specific number of assault weapons that are very dangerous. In the 1997 case of Printz v. United States, the Supreme Court rules that thebackground check requirement of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act unconstitutional. The Florida Supreme Court upheld a jury's $11.5 million verdict against Kmart for selling a gun to an intoxicated man who used the gun to shoot his girlfriend. Due to this, many major American gun companies voluntary include child locks on all new guns manufactured. In 1998, trigger lock mechanisms required on all guns in The United States was defeated as an amendment. However, the Senate approved an amendment requiring gun companies to have trigger locks available for sale and created federal grants for gun safety and education programs. On November 30, 1998, permanent provisions of the Brady Act go into effect and The National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) is created. Gun dealers are now required to initiate a pre-sale criminal background check of all gun buyers through this computer system. On May 20, 1999, the Senate passed a bill requiring trigger locks on all newly manufactured handguns and extended the waiting period and background check requirements to sales of firearms at gun shows. This bill barely passed with the tie breaker coming down to Vice President Ale Gore. The bill shows how many grey areas there are in gun control and that it is quite controversial.

As one can see there is quite a lot of history to guns in our country, but the main question is what are the roles of the government and states? Gun laws in the United States regulate the sale, possession, and use of firearms and ammunition. Gun laws are a little confusing because they vary from state to state and are independent of some federal laws. Firearms owners’ guns are subject to the state they are in and not the state they reside from. There is reciprocity between some states. For example, Oregon recognizes an Idaho gun permit, but Idaho doesn’t recognize an Oregon permit. Some states don’t recognize out of state permits at all, so one must be careful when traveling to different states with firearms. Some states place additional restrictions on certain semi-automatic firearms that they have defined as assault weapons, or on magazines that can hold more than a certain number of rounds of ammunition. There is no federal law prohibiting the carry of firearms by people for protection or other lawful purposes, with limited exception in the Federal Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990. Basically the state law already do everything the federal government requires and therefore doesn’t really have any specific laws. Now to the numbers of gun control and why more of it would help our government and lower our murders. Following the passage of stricter laws, Australian gun deaths have dropped by two-thirds. The mass murder in Newtown, Connecticut a year ago caused shock and sorrow all around the world. In Australia it also revived memories of their own horror on a similar scale, when dozens of people innocently going about their day were gunned down by a disturbed young man. This tragedy occurred in 1996 at the Port Arthur historic site in Tasmania, one of Australia's most popular tourist destinations. The number of people that died was 35, with more than 20 others injured from the shooting. The victims ranged in age from 3 to 72. They included children, teens, adults and seniors; tourists and local workers; several couples, a pair of brothers, a mother and her two little daughters, and members of a retirees' club on an outing. This was not the first shooting massacre Australia had suffered, but it was the largest in living memory. The tragedy ignited an explosion of public outrage, soul-searching and demands for better regulation of guns. Laws became stricter on guns and drastically changed. As a result, gun deaths in Australia have dropped by two-thirds, and never had another mass shooting. Every country is unique, but Australia is more similar to the US. In Australia, there is a frontier history and a strong gun culture, similar to the U.S. Each state and territory has its own gun laws, and in 1996 these varied widely between the jurisdictions. At that time Australia's firearm mortality rate per population was 2.6/100, 000, about ¼ of the rate of the U.S., according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the US Center for Disease Control. Today the rate is under 1/100,000 less than 1/10 of the U.S. rate. Those figures refer to all gun deaths: homicide, suicide and unintentional. If we focus on gun homicide rates, the US outstrips Australia 30-fold. The 1996 reforms made gun laws stronger and uniform across Australia. Semi-automatic rifles were prohibited and the world's biggest buyback saw nearly 700,000 guns removed from circulation and destroyed. The licensing and registration systems of all states and territories were harmonized and linked, so that a person barred from owning guns in one state can no longer acquire them in another. With clear, defined gun laws, as demonstrated from the above information on the Australian Gun control laws, the US can again become a safe place to live. Federal laws must override state laws, and state laws must be consistent across the land, and information must be unified throughout states. With consistent laws, unified regulation and licensing and banning of semi-automatic rifles we will have more control of monitoring people who own guns. Holding sellers of guns accountable, by keeping their records accurate and having background checks completed and mandatory waiting periods throughout the land. We must demand these changes to be made through our congress, only then will the United States be the country we can call our country the land of free and the home of the brave. We cannot let another mass shooting occur, we cannot let more innocent people die we must be as passionate about gun control as we are about our right to bear arms. America’s frontier history and strong gun culture must align with today’s culture. Guns are part of the American culture and in no way should be totally banned, but we must bring the laws current with today’s culture and society. Guns should continue to be used for hunting and sport, but there is no need in today’s society for semi-automatic weapons, or the illegal purchase of weapons. We have the right to bear arms, but with a culture and society much different than when our founding father’s created the constitution, we now must align gun control to accommodate a more sophisticated culture with clearly defined laws consistent throughout the land.

All gun sales are subject to screening (universal background checks), which means you cannot buy a gun over the internet or at a garage sale. Gun ownership requires a license, and every sale is subject to a 28-day waiting period. The licensing process considers not only the applicant's age and criminal convictions, but also a range of other factors relevant to possession of a product that is (a) designed for killing and (b) highly coveted by people who should not have it. Relevant factors include the applicant's living circumstances, mental and physical health, restraining orders or other encounters with the law, type of gun desired and for what purpose, safety training, storage arrangements, and the public interest. Police make whatever inquiries they think necessary to inform the decision on whether (or under what conditions) the license should be granted. This can include checking with neighbourhood police, the family doctor and especially spouses or partners. There are many red flags that do not appear in an automated computer record of criminal convictions: substance abuse, mental instability, conflict at home or at work, to name a few. Another risk factor is whether granting the license might make guns accessible to another household member whose own circumstances would disqualify them from a license – for example, a depressed teenager or a person with criminal convictions. The screening process serves to block dangerous or irresponsible candidates, but also underscores for applicants and their families that bringing home a gun is a serious decision which affects the entire household, and indeed the entire community. Many applicants abandon their request during the waiting period – dissuaded by family members, or simply because the momentary enthusiasm for gun ownership passes. Australia also requires a justifiable reason for the type of weapon the applicant wants to own. If you say you plan to hunt rabbits, your license doesn't allow you to a high-powered rifle. And if you already have a couple of guns suitable for hunting rabbits, it becomes increasingly difficult to justify acquiring more. This is a measure against the accumulation of private arsenals. A significant legal and cultural difference between our two countries: Australia doesn't accept anticipation of killing another person (self-defence) as a reason for owning a gun. To qualify for a handgun license, you must belong to and regularly attend a target shooting club. An important feature of a licence is that it must be renewed every few years, and it can be cancelled or suspended if the bearer no longer meets the standard required – for example, due to domestic violence or a dangerous mental condition. Australia didn't ban guns. Hunting and shooting are still thriving. But by adopting laws that give priority to public safety, we have saved thousands of lives. Gun control laws in the US are confusing and vary from state to state and are layered with federal Legislations including Background check “loopholes”, some states do not require reporting missing firearms, concealed carry laws are where more states are alike, many gun laws are subject to local discretion, Gun regulation can be incredibly specific, Some states prohibit registration of firearms,

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