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Why Gun Control Isn’t Effective

Many gun control advocates say that gun control legislation cuts down on gun

violence and leads to a safer society. Although at first thought this my seem true, when

one delves deeper into this subject and looks at statistics, one can conclude that less

restrictive gun control laws and the absence of gun control laws would actually lower gun

violence rates, and also one would realize that what needs to be controlled is the culture

associated with guns, not the guns themselves.

The Second Amendment states that “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to

the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be

infringed” (FindLaw: U.S. Constitution: Second Amendment). This can and has been

interpreted in many different ways, depending on one’s definition of the word “militia.”

Gun control advocates define it as a military, while those who do not support gun control

define it as anyone who is trained in the use of firearms. George Mason, a Founding

Father from Virginia who championed states’ rights and supported the Bill of Rights, said

this on the issue, “I ask, who are the militia? They consist of now of the whole people”

(GunCite: Second Amendment-Quotes from the Founding Fathers and Their

Contemporaries on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms). Certainly, one of the main

supporters of the Bill of Rights (which includes the 2nd Amendment) definition of the

term “militia” should clear up the issue, but gun control advocates still claim that

“militia” refers to a military, as opposed to everyone who is trained in the use of firearms.

This amendment is the central argument for both sides of this issue; advocates say that

this amendment allows military personnel to use firearms, while opponents of gun control
legislation argue that the second amendment allows for the purchase, ownership, and

usage of firearms by the general public. Another argument presented by opponents of gun

control is that the wording of the amendment protects the right of Americans to bear

arms, rather than granting us that right. They argue this because the amendment says “the

right of the People to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” rather than “the right of

the People to keep and bear Arms is granted to citizens.” They argue that the word

infringed implies that we already have that right, and that this amendment is making sure

government doesn’t interfere with our right, as opposed to the government giving us that

right and being able to abolish it at any time. (Gun Control)

Statistics prove that, contrary to popular belief, less strict gun laws lead to a

reduction in violent crime. John Lott, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise

Institute, did a study spanning from 1977-1994 on all 3,054 counties in the United States.

His study was the most extensive study ever done on gun control laws and violent crime

rates, and ultimately he found that the 31 states with “shall-issue laws,” or gun laws that

allow citizens with no felonies or histories of significant mental illness to carry concealed

handguns actually had lowered crime rates. For every year that a concealed carry

handgun law has been in effect, the murder rate had declined 3% and rapes and robberies

declined by 2% each. (Interview with John Lott, Author of More Guns, Less Crime) This

may seem counterintuitive, because one would think a society without guns would be the

most peaceful and orderly, but this is not so. Just as criminals can be deterred by higher

penalties for crimes, they are also deterred by potentially armed victims. When a criminal

looking to commit a violent crime is in a society where guns are illegal, he knows his
targets are sitting ducks because they have no way to defend themselves. But if a

potential criminal does not know if his potential victim is armed or not, he is less likely to

commit a crime because that person could use a handgun to defend himself. (Wilson)

This logic is backed up by statistics; in addition to societies with lax gun laws

having low crime rates, societies with stricter gun laws have higher crime rates. When

Britain outlawed handguns in 1997, the British politicians thought that violent crime rates

would decrease significantly. But in the 6 years after this measure was enacted, violent

crime rates rose 29%. The same happened in Australia, where most firearms were banned

in 1996. But 6 years after the law was passed, violent crime rates had rose by 32%. (AD:

More Gun Control Isn't The Answer - John R. Lott Jr. - Jun 17, 04) The reason crime

rates rise when guns are outlawed is because guns are taken away from law-abiding

citizens, who would use them to defend themselves. Criminals still have guns, however,

because they can illegally obtain them from smugglers. Even when gun control laws such

as waiting periods are put in place, it does not affect how criminals obtain guns. Because

criminals use these guns in crimes, they don’t care if the guns are obtained legally or not,

because they will ultimately be used in an illegal act. And if the gun is legally obtained in

an area where guns have to be registered, it makes it easier to track the criminal down,

and that is not what the criminal wants, so it would be more advantageous for them to

obtain them illegally. For example, in Dade County, Florida, between 1987 and 1992 a

program was implemented to keep track of the number of gun crimes committed by

concealed carry permit holders. In that span, there were 4 crimes, none of which resulted
in an injury. This program was ended in 1992 because there were not enough incidents to

justify the money spent tracking them. (Gun Control) This shows that a negligible

number of crimes committed with guns are committed by citizens who have legally

obtained the firearm, so gun control laws are not stopping any crime.

Some supporters of gun control would argue that if everyone was allowed to

carry guns, there would be chaos in the streets, with people shooting each other over

minor traffic incidents and police would be shot for no reason. Statistics, however,

completely refute this unfounded argument: as of 1998, only one incident was recorded in

which a concealed carry permit holder shot someone after a traffic incident, and in court

it was proved to be self-defense; also as of 1998, no concealed carry permit holder has

ever shot a police officer, although there have been several incidents recorded where a

permit holder has actually protected an officer’s life. (Gun Control) Also a lot of gun

control advocates claim that the instances of people using guns in self-defense is so small

that it is negligible. But this is not true, statistics show that guns are used for self-defense

about 2.5 million times a year in the U.S. alone, and that only includes instances in which

police reports have been made, while guns are used to commit about half a million crimes

each year. (A New Way to Control Crime? 'Saturday Night Specials' Bans Haven't

Worked)

Most people associate guns with violence because of the prevailing culture that

people learn from violent music, movies, and video games. Modern music talks about

killing rivals and gang violence (in addition to drugs, sex, and other things), movies show

heroes killing rooms full of bad guys, and video games allow people to kill each other in
a virtual world. But by no means should these mediums be banned, of course because

free speech is protected by the 1st Amendment, but parents need to teach their children the

difference between acting and reality. Music is only so violent because the violence helps

artists sell records, there is no way someone making millions of dollars a year is going to

kill someone for something as stupid as a gang rivalry, that would mean going to jail and

losing a ton of money and fame. Movies and video games are also violent because

violence sells; who doesn’t want to see somebody shoot up a room full of bad guys with

an M-16? And who wouldn’t want to save Earth by killing hoards of evil aliens? Parents

need to be responsible and teach their children that there is a difference between killing a

cab driver and stealing his taxi in a video game and doing it in real life. With parents and

other adults educating their children from a young age, people will grow up knowing that

guns an be used in a perfectly legal and socially acceptable way, as opposed to believing

that guns are just a tool of the criminal and that only bad people have guns. This will lead

to less people having an irrational fear of firearms, which will lead to less people blindly

supporting gun control because “guns are bad.” If the gun culture changes (which is not

very likely, at least in the near future) into one that is more responsible, safe, and less

violence-obsessed, then there would be a drastic reduction in crime, and less support for

extreme gun control measures.

Some politicians are calling for the banning of inexpensive handguns, normally

called “Saturday night specials.” They say that Saturday night specials are favored by

criminals, because they are small and inexpensive, and those politicians also favor the

banning of Saturday night specials. Several problems arise from this, however; one is the
defining of a Saturday night special. How much does it have to cost to be considered

cheap enough to fit the category of a Saturday night special? How small does it have to

be? Some laws ban the guns on what they are made of, and the barrel length of the gun.

And Illinois, South Carolina, Hawaii, and Minnesota ban guns that are made of material

that melts below 800 degrees Fahrenheit. But the problem with banning these guns is that

by getting rid of cheaper guns, law-abiding lower-income citizens cannot afford a gun to

defend themselves with. And even if guns that have a short barrel length are banned,

there is nothing stopping criminals from sawing off parts of the barrels of longer guns. (A

New Way to Control Crime? 'Saturday Night Specials' Bans Haven't Worked)

One can see by looking at statistics that gun control laws do not do what they are

intended to do. Most gun control advocates claim that gun control legislation will cut

down violent crime rates for crimes such as murder, robbery, kidnapping, assault, and

rape, when in fact this is not true. When one looks at other countries that have enacted

gun control legislation, in this case Britain, Australia, and Canada, one can see that after

the gun control legislation was passed that in the following years crime rates for violent

crimes shot up dramatically. This proves that gun control legislation does not accomplish

what its advocates say it does, and it in fact does the opposite. The real key to lowering

crime rates is to let law-abiding citizens purchase, own, and carry firearms, and to raise

the penalties for illegally obtaining, selling, or carrying a gun, and by cracking down on

illegal gun trafficking. As long as the potential buyer does not have a felonious criminal

record, a history of violence, or some type of mental illness, and as long as they are

legally considered an adult, they should be allowed to not only purchase and own, but to
also be able to carry a firearm on their person. Luckily, The Firearm Owners Protection

Act of 1986 makes it illegal to sell a gun to minors, felons, drug users, and those with

significant mental illnesses (Bowman and Newton). If these measures stay in place, and

some new measures are taken, such as making stiffer penalties for illegally trafficking

guns, and teaching children from a young age that guns are not something to be afraid of,

but something to use, whether it be for hunting, self-defense, or sport, then the rates of

violent crimes will surely drop drastically.

Works Cited
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Bowman, Jeffrey, and Heather Newton. "Points of View Reference Center Home: Point:

Controlling Gun Violence Is More Important than Controlling Guns."

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Contemporaries on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms." GunCite: Gun Control

and Second Amendment Issues. Web. 15 Mar. 2010.

<http://www.guncite.com/gc2ndfqu.html>.

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Press, Books. Web. 15 Mar. 2010.

<http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/493636.html>.

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<http://www.guncite.com/journals/gun_control_markinvd.html>.
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Gun Control." EBSCOhost. Web. 15 Mar. 2010.

<http://web.ebscohost.com/pov/detail?vid=1&hid=105&sid=d4642c03-590c-

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