The Right to Bear Arms: Is It Ethical?

Topics: Firearm, Gun politics in the United States, Rights Pages: 28 (10549 words) Published: July 14, 2013
Senior Research Project: Is the right to bear arms ethical?

Lucas Van Duyn

Senior Seminar: Business Ethics

Dr. Jewe

July 31, 2012

Introduction to the Project:

In the United States, research into firearms and violent crime is fraught with difficulties, associated with limited data on gun ownership and use, firearms markets, and aggregation of crime data. Research studies into gun violence have primarily taken one of two approaches: case-control studies and social ecology. Gun ownership is usually determined through surveys, proxy variables, and sometimes with production and import figures. In statistical analysis of homicides and other types of crime, which are rare events, these data tend to have poison distributions, which also presents methodological challenges to researchers. (Just Facts, 2010)

Americans own an estimated 270 million firearms, approximately 90 guns for every 100 people. In 2009, guns took the lives of 31,347 Americans in homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings. This is the equivalent of more than 85 deaths each day and more than three deaths each hour. 66,769 Americans were treated in hospital emergency departments for non-fatal gunshot wounds in 2009. Firearms were the third-leading cause of injury-related deaths nationwide in 2009, following poisoning and motor vehicle accidents. Between 1955 and 1975, the Vietnam War killed over 58,000 American soldiers – less than the number of civilians killed with guns in the U.S. in an average two-year period. In the first seven years of the U.S.-Iraq War, over 4,400 American soldiers were killed. Almost as many civilians are killed with guns in the U.S., however, every seven weeks. (Just Facts, 2010)

Over the past 13 years, the per capita "sales" figure has fluctuated between a high of 3,217 per 100,000 in 2011 and a low of 2,182 per 100,000 in 2003. But there have been no "dramatic" spikes in either direction dating back to the final two years of the Clinton administration. (BJS, 2012) The number of Americans who own firearms has been steadily declining over the past 30 years. According to the General Social Survey (GSS), the most respected source of data on social trends in the U.S., just 20.8% of Americans owned a firearm in 2010. This is down substantially from the 1980 figure of 29%. In a pilot study, only 41.3% of the registered owners actually admitted to gun ownership.  The reason that the figure was so low is that a 26.7% of the owners had given "erroneous" addresses (probably to confound the bureaucrats who wanted the handguns registered) and another equal percentage refused to cooperate with the survey. GSS data also soundly debunks another specious claim that the gun lobby circulates to the media--that gun ownership among women is on the rise. In reality, gun ownership among American women has remained flat over the past three decades, with 10.5% of women reporting owning firearms in 1980 compared to 9.9% in 2010. (Just Facts, 2010)

The number of guns destroyed by authorities each year (100,000) is small compared to the 4.9 million guns made per year, and would reduce the number of guns that enter the population to about 4.8 million per year.  The result is not much affected even if the number destroyed per year is assumed to be as high as one million. (BJS, 2012) Definition of Relevant Terminology:

Arms: the term “arms,” in its most comprehensive signification, includes every description of weapon or thing which may be used offensively or defensively, and in the most restricted sense, includes guns or firearms of every description, as well as powder, lead and flints, and such other things as are necessarily used in loading and discharging them, so as to render them effective as instruments of offense or defense, and without which their efficiency for these purposes would be greatly diminished, if not destroyed. (Free Dictionary, 2012) Gun: A weapon incorporating a metal tube from which bullets, shells, or other...

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