Gun Control. Gun control is a very contentious topic that has elicited mixed views from different groups of people. To some individuals owning a gun is a right that should not be at any time taken away from them while to others, guns should not be freely left at the hands of all types of individuals as they may misuse the guns by engaging in criminal activities hence the need for stricter gun control (Roleff). Gun control refers to the policies and legislation that regulate; the sale, ownership, use, manufacture and possession transfer of guns and other firearms. The extent of gun control has always varied from one country to another with some countries being lenient on firearms usage and some countries being very strict on firearms ownership and use.
The recent increase in crime rate where those involved have used guns and lead to mass damages and many casualties has lead to a rethink on the issue of gun control. An example was in the recent school shootings in the United States which left scores of students dead and many others injured. Many countries and states, as well as politicians, have been advocating for stricter gun laws to reduce the crime in the society. Other influential people in different countries have also joined in this campaign.
The strict laws on gun control have lead to a divided opinion on their effectiveness in solving the gun related crime. Supporters of the regulations are of the opinion that when gun ownership is freely left to as many people as possible, the danger of higher rate of crime might arise. The opponents of the strict laws argue that these regulations have no effect on gun-related crime or suicide and that they go against some rights of individuals. They argue that anyone with an intention to commit a certain activity cannot be deterred by any setup rules and will therefore in any case negotiate a way around any deterring obstacle (Ayres and Donohue).
Advantages of Gun Control/ Supporting Arguments
Critics of gun control have been advocating for increased education on gun use to solve the increasing crime rate issue and reduce the number of accidental deaths from improper firearm use. However, it has been realized that the education initiatives by themselves cannot individually solve the issue and need to be combined with gun control as well as other measures. Gun control has a large number of advantages over other crime rate reduction methods.
It has been known that suicide attempts and suicides occur mostly in homes where one or more individuals possess guns based on past studies on the relation between suicides and gun ownership (Leenaars). The number of death recorded from suicides involving gun use exceeds the deaths from homicides involving guns and other firearms. Research has shown that countries that have strict regulations on gun ownership, transfer and sale have a lower rate of gun-related suicide as well as murders. Studies that have been conducted analyzing states with high gun ownership and those with low gun ownership in which there was a similar depression rate, and the causes of suicides were similar have shown that the number of those who shot themselves was around four times greater than in low-gun countries. The countries had a similar rate of suicides in which guns and other firearms were not used such as hanging. It is, therefore, a general view that gun control will lead to fewer suicides in the society. War veterans and other retired army and police officers have been committing suicide at a very high rate as compared to the common general population. Those who commit the suicide mostly use guns as it is readily available to them. The veterans and police officers are usually exposed to bizarre events and other hard tasks that may with time lead to depression and withdrawal and hence the urge to commit suicide. It is, therefore, necessary to implore veterans with a history of psychiatric medical conditions to keep their guns away or give them to other individuals for safekeeping so as to reduce the high suicide rates (Concealedguns.procon.org).
Gun control can help reduce the rate of accidental deaths. More than half of the unintentional shooting occurrences resulting in fatal accidents are usually self-inflicted, and most deaths resulting from unintentional gun use are usually known to be caused by family members or friends. According to research, states and countries with the highest gun ownership have up to nine times the cases of accidental gun deaths and around eight and around ninety percent of children deaths from accidental shooting usually occur at home. Most deaths occur when parents are not at home but leave their children without somebody to take care of them. The children may play with a loaded gun that is accidentally left exposed to them. Most of the occurrences are usually due to negligence on the part of a parent and could be prevented by having safety locks on guns or keeping them out of reach of children. Children are usually naturally curious about new things and will try out anything and just like swimming pools have gates to prevent them from drowning, and paper bags are kept away from them, stricter gun control should be implemented for home use guns.
A large number of mass shootings are usually done using legal weapons. The massacres used assault weapons and high capacity magazines in these criminal acts. Having strict gun controls and restrictions on the assault rifles will, therefore, save many lives. Guns and other Firearms are among the major death causes in the community above heart attacks, liver diseases and some other death causes. Firearms are the leading root of death by homicide in the society. Many homicides in the society happen due to uncontrolled access to guns (Roleff). Therefore, stricter rules will lead to a reduced number of gun related homicides.
Disadvantages of Gun control
Recent studies have shown that bans on assault weapons do not affect murder rates in a country to a large extent. Critics of gun control laws have even been of the view that countries with strict restrictions on gun use have higher gun-related homicides than those with fewer restrictions. States with the largest increases in gun ownership have the largest decline in violent crimes.
A survey found that more than half of the population in America believed that owning a gun usually protects one from being victimized (Concealedguns.procon.org). Criminals will have an easier job in carrying out their criminal activities when few people own guns as victims will find it hard to defend themselves. The murderers and other criminals will have little fear of retaliation from the targeted victims, and few people will be alert in their homes due to the lack of a good weapon to defend them.
Gun control laws infringe upon the rights and freedoms of citizens i.e. the right to own guns for recreation purposes such as hunting and sport and the right to self- defense. Hunters use shotguns and semiautomatic rifles in their hunting activities. The same are also used in shooting tournaments by many targets shooting contestants. According to research, around thirty-two percent of gun owners use guns for hunting and seven percent owned guns for shooting sports. Many people are usually of the view that the police are not in a position to protect everyone and that stricter restrictions on gun use would make it very difficult for individuals to protect their homes. Some opponents of gun control are of the view that the right stems from the basic universal right to live as owning a gun can make one defend oneself from any fatal attacks that may lead to death (Ayres and Donohue).
Gun control laws are an invasion of citizens’ privacy according to some critics. Those controls that require regular checks by the government normally lead to individual information recording that include names, mental records, addresses, and criminal records of various individuals. Some regulations would require a database of the codes of the personal guns belonging to various gun owners and the name of the owner. The various regulations according to many are just an infringement on their right to privacy and have little or no effect on crime rate reduction.
Ayres, Ian, and John J Donohue. Shooting Down The More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis. Cambridge, Mass.: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2002. Print.
Concealedguns.procon.org,. ‘Concealed Guns Procon.Org’. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 July 2015.
Leenaars, A. ‘The Effects Of Gun Control On The Accidental Death Rate From Firearms In Canada’. Journal of Safety Research 28.3 (1997): 119-122. Web.
Roleff, Tamara L. Gun Control. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2007. Print.