Gun Ownership and the Society

Gun Ownership and the Society

Gun Ownership: Fundamental Right or Danger to Society?

The debate over gun control has become increasingly heated over the last couple of years. Private gun ownership was not really questioned or debated in the 18th and 19th centuries due to the fact that some civilians traveled west into unsettled territory, so they used guns for survival and protection. According to Clare Kim, an investigative reporter for NBC News, gun control was briefly introduced in 1927 when Congress outlawed mail-order gun sales and concealed firearms (“A Look Back”). After this point, incidents like gang wars and mob violence began to increase so much that the first federal gun-control law, the National Firearms Act of 1934, was put in place (Kim). With more notice being taken of gun violence over the last several years leading to an increase in gun control laws, gun supporters knew that something needed to be done.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution, which was created partially as a result of the oppression of the government of Great Britain and as a means of preventing oppression from the government they were creating, is also one of the pivotal points of debate (Kim). Supporters of gun ownership are divided as to whether or not any regulations on firearms are needed while proponents question whether the right stated in the Second Amendment really applies to private ownership and whether private gun ownership increases gun violence. The most important point of debate that will have an impact on the future of gun control is whether and why gun violence is increasing or decreasing; although some gun control is required, guns are not the cause of violence and every law-abiding citizen should be guaranteed ownership.

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Gun Violence: Increasing or Decreasing?

While gun ownership was originally intended for protection and survival, violence through the use of guns has become more noticed in society. While these attacks have many people worried, both sides debate whether gun ownership deters or increases gun violence (Henigan 19; Branas et al. 2034). Disapproval is being pushed at gun ownership because some assume that this leads to criminals obtaining and using weapons (Branas et al. 2037; Levy 89).

However, others claim that gun ownership actually offers an option to counter the crime and allows citizens to protect themselves (Levy 88; Alexy 105). Civilian protection and the effect of gun ownership on violence both play a huge role in influencing the future of gun control and I believe responsible gun ownership is a positive element of society and helps stop crime.

Gun ownership by citizens has been around since the beginning of this nation, but some people think that it should be eliminated due to an increase in gun violence. Dennis Henigan, the vice president for law and policy at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, believes that gun ownership increases gun violence because whether owned by criminals or law abiding citizens, guns are primarily owned as a weapon (19). He feels that even if a person plans on using the gun only for protection, he/she is still going to use it as a weapon and cause harm to another person (Henigan 19). Further support for this opinion comes from a study done by Charles C. Branas, PhD et al., where they found that although many shootings take place each year, it is not fully clear whether citizens owning guns protects them or endangers their lives more (2034).

According to the same study, their average findings were that people who owned guns were not necessarily protected from being shot in an assault (Branas et al. 2037). Although, they did state that some cases are successful (Branas et al. 2037). Some evidence that disputes these results comes from Robert A. Levy, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute. Levy says that in Israel, the gun ownership level is 40 percent higher than in the United States, but the murder rate in Israel is a lot lower (89). From this, he argues that gun ownership does provide a way for people to defend themselves when attacked (Levy 89). Gun control is still a fiery debate, and more studies will need to be done in order to see how much influence it has on gun crimes.

Perhaps a re-evaluation of the details involved in the crimes would be helpful. Also, maybe an analysis of each circumstance would be useful. Most importantly, as Levy points out, higher rates of gun ownership did not increase crime in Israel, which means it is the people of the United States causing the problem with gun violence. Even Branas and his associates concede that guns have saved people in the past (2037); of course guns are dangerous and will aid criminals in doing criminal activity, but this only serves as yet another reason why responsible gun owners should have the right to a gun so they can protect themselves.

As covered earlier, there are many pro-gun control individuals who believe that private ownership of guns causes more harm than good. One such supporter of this opinion is Eric W. Alexy, a writer for the Columbia Chronicle, who agrees that gun ownership endangers civilians (105). He also feels that if guns were no longer around, much of the violence seen today involving firearms would be gone (Alexy 105). He states, “Starting at the root of the problem, it would seem reasonable to get rid of all guns currently in circulation, not permit the production of more of them” (105). Although some feel this way, others feel that citizens owning firearms is what causes the prevention of many others of these crimes. According to Levy, “Three thousand criminals are lawfully killed each year by armed civilians.

By comparison, fewer than 1,000 criminals are killed annually by police” (88). Based on this, Levy seems to believe that without citizens privately owning guns, there would be a lot more outbreaks of violence that would not be stopped (88). He seems to feel that civilian gun ownership assists the authorities instead of causing them problems (Levy 88). The solution to this issue of how much gun control affects the number of violent attacks in society is not an easy one to find. However, to say “more guns causes more violence” is too simple of an approach to the problem and does not tell the whole story.

Yes, the very nature of a gun is violent and therefore it can be used to cause violence but how many innocent lives were saved by the violence done to criminals? Those statistics are impossible to know (Levy 90) because who is to say what other crimes, including killing other innocent people, that those criminals could have continued to do. I realize such an argument is blurry at best but a responsible person properly trained with a gun, and this is an important distinction, is often more apt to use it for protection or recreation instead of criminal violence. When used properly, a gun helps people not increase their chances of dying but instead their chances for living.

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Final Thoughts

The issue of gun control stems all the way back to the birth of the United States as a new nation. Out of a bloody revolt won and bought with the lives of men who fought with rifles and pistols by their sides, rose a nation that was quite literally created with the help of guns, which is why it was one of the first rights to be given to citizens. Unfortunately, the founding fathers had no way of seeing how crazed our society would get and how complicated gun ownership could be. With unbelievable massacres like Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Newtown, gun ownership has come under attack because it is hard to come to terms with such senseless violence. Although many supporters of gun control will quickly point out that the United States is rife with gun violence, the deeper issue lies with those warped minds behind the triggers. More research should definitely be done on how criminals and the mentally ill access weapons but to simply take away all guns because they have the capability of causing violence is misguided.

It is a bit naïve to think that the gun debate will ever be solved and there are issues within the debate that should be questioned, but guns are not responsible for the violent tendencies of American citizens and the 2nd Amendment should be upheld as a basic right of every citizen.

First and foremost, society and certain sections of our government should stop blaming the senseless violence on guns. Surely, less people would be killed if those mass murderers had been using knives or other weapons but would the absence of guns solve their mental illnesses?

Would a criminal who wanted to do harm to another human being really stop if a gun wasn’t available? Yes, guns do cause violence, but only in the hands of violent people so our nation should create more rigorous standards for gun ownership; standards for criminality and mental maturity and acuity should be the first round of defense against gun abuse. Furthermore, the 2nd Amendment must be further defined to stop the unnecessary debate on what “the people” stands for and to bolster an individual right that has been around since the birth of the nation. The gun debate has so many other issues that are more important than trying to define a phrase in a law written hundreds of years ago. Sadly, without either of these problems being rectified, mass shootings will continue to happen and the nation will continue to stare horrified while blaming complex problems on a simple, inanimate object. The first step of gun ownership is personal accountability and responsibility; if this was a notion more people in America understood, I imagine many of our problems would be solved.

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Works Cited

Alexy, Eric W. “Concealed Weapons Do Not Make Society Safer.” Gun Violence: Opposing Viewpoints Ed. Haerens, Margaret. Michigan: Thomson Gale, 2006. 102-105. Book.

Branas, Charles C. “Investigating the Link Between Gun Possession and Gun Assault.” American Journal of Public Health 99. 11 (2009): 2034-2040. Web.

Henigan, Dennis A. Lethal Logic. Virginia: Potomac Books Inc., 2009. Book.

Kim, Clare. “A Look Back at Gun Control History.” NBC Universal, 23 Jan. 2013. Web. 16 Mar. 2013.

Levy, Robert A. “Gun Ownership Deters Violent Crime.” Gun Violence: Opposing Viewpoints Ed. Haerens, Margaret. Michigan: Thomson Gale, 2006. 86-92. Print

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