Not a popular view for a college paper on Gun Control
Hand guns. What are they good for in this world? It may seem like an easy answer but in reality the history and facts of this case are very complicated and emotionally charged. In a protectionist society it is easy to think that only law enforcement should have guns. That would be fine if everyone obeyed the laws and there were no outside dangers to consider. However in the world we live in, not just the United States, there are many dangers that an individual should always have the ability to protect one’s self from. Our basic right to be able to defend ourselves should never be in doubt.
A common one line joke, “gun control means never missing what you’re aiming at.” While this is a little joke with undertones of violence, it is truly an accurate way to describe the discipline needed when handling firearms. Like any tool that we have in civilization it is a tool that must be thoroughly trained in the operation, safety, and maintenance before handling.
At no time should a loaded firearm be handled in an unsafe manner and even one thought to be unloaded should be treated as if it has bullets in it. Many people have been seriously injured or killed believing that a weapon was unloaded. At the very least a person will receive a scare when an unexpected round suddenly fires from an “unloaded weapon.” “Oh, it’s not loaded,” are famous last words.
Someone expecting to handle a firearm should become familiar with the firing mechanism and be able to inspect the weapon for flaws that may prove to be endangering. One should also be in the practice of assembly, disassembly, and the cleaning of a gun as even what may seem as a small amount of dirt of built up carbon can create serious malfunctions.
Many weapons now come with a myriad of safety features and devices to attach to maintain that no one, like children for instance, are able to handle the gun if they should gain access to it, and be able to fire it. Knowing what is available for your gun of choice and using it may save your life or the life of someone you care about. For instance a Bersa Thunder handgun comes with both a safety tab and also a key that can lock out the trigger when not in active use. And of course no weapon should ever be stored loaded.
In regards to the National Rifle Association’s Eddie Eagle children’s training program for gun use. It can be argued and sustained that at no times should children be allowed to handle firearms. No amount of training or perceived maturity should be used in “treating children as miniature adults,” (Snapp, Willis, Hardy. 2002), and allow them to have hand guns. There should be no hurry at all to put the power of life and death in the hands of children. Howard (2005) states that in a survey of 230 elementary school parents, 22% reported guns in the home and 85% of those reported do not practice safe storage, even in the face of over 400 child deaths annually in the United States. There is no excuse for these deaths if they happen in a home. There is too much attention placed on these kinds of wholly preventable accidents for them to happen. Florida has made it a crime to have any gun within reach of children less than 18 years of age, (Florida gun laws. 2006), however, this is a law that cannot be enforced until after a tragic event has happened. It is a personal responsibility to ensure that if a person is to own a gun, that the gun is at all times in a safe mode and unattainable by anyone, child or adult.
Gun control as pertains to laws and the interpretation of the U.S. Constitution is a complicated matter and one that should be straight forward but have many different aspects. Many people believe that to have a safe society guns should be banned entirely and that only law enforcement should have them.
Any time there is a violent crime such as a lone gunman that attacks people or a child is killed when finding a gun at home or outside there are cries by some to blame the guns and even the manufacturers. Instead of people realizing that it is the human that is at fault, not the gun. People will cry for more laws, more restrictions, and more punishment. Yet those laws only punish law abiding citizens, the criminals will not care what laws are passed, they will still carry guns. But now the criminals will not to worry so much about potential victims having guns to defend themselves.
A very good observation on comparing the war on guns and the war on drugs in regards to criminal access: People who obey gun-control laws are less able to defend themselves against those who don’t obey those same laws. Moreover, there is no reason to believe that a war on guns will rid American society of guns any more than the war on drugs has eradicated drugs from our society. Those who wish to purchase illegal guns will be able to do so on the black market as easily as they purchase drugs. (LaRosa, 2002)
Statistics show that without a doubt that in states and cities with narrow laws limiting the ownership of guns by private citizens that the crime rate is higher than in areas that more loosely allow ownership.
However, authors of papers that are against the right to carry laws leave out data that shows crime decreases with carry laws, those writers are only critical of the law itself. They are very selective to leave out vital data which would support ownership:
One of the first states to make it easier for modern citizens to carry concealed handguns in public places was Florida. Prior to 1987, Florida had a county-level “may-issue” carry permit system that allowed county officials to deny carry permits if they believed the applicant lacked “good moral character” (Kleck, 1997:368). As of October 1, 1987, the state law was changed to a state-administered, nondiscretionary permit system with carry permits valid throughout the state. The law allows permit holders to carry concealed handguns anywhere in the state, except in “places of nuisance” such as courtrooms or schools. The applicant must be 21 years old, provide evidence of having satisfactorily completed a gun safety program, and cannot have a felony conviction, history of mental illness, or record of alcohol or drug abuse (Florida Department of State, 2003a). In practice, applicants are rarely denied permits. Of the 837,280 applications received from October 1, 1987 through February 28, 2003, only 3,914 or 0.47% were denied a permit due to a criminal history or incomplete application (Florida Department of State, 2003b) (Tomislav V Kovandzic, Thomas B Marvell. 2003)
Why does crime go down in regions with more gun friendly laws? The most accepted cause is that criminals, like any predatory animal, don’t want to risk injury to themselves in the attack on a victim. If there is a strong possibility of the victim having a gun to fight back with, that victim may be left alone.
Many people will not accept that idea. However, it has been proven time and time again in history that when the means to defend one’s self is taken away, crimes, genocide and humanitarian disaster is close behind. There are many cases throughout the world such as Rwanda, Sudan, and other regions in Africa where people have had their means of self defense removed and then been slaughtered by those that still have the power
People want to believe that if there are laws that everyone will follow those laws. However, that is just an illusion of safety and can be more of a threat to the well being of a family that any gun could be.
Another common saying is, “better to have one and not need it, than to need one and not have it.” This could be about as true a statement as they can come, imagine if someone at Columbine had been lawfully able to have a gun at the school, or at Virginia Tech or on September 11 if pilots or lawfully licensed and/or trained people were allowed to have their handguns with them at all times? Lives could have been saved if not for the Zero Tolerance rules. All these laws do really just make all the people in those areas easy targets. It is also these rare and tragic events that spark such emotional reactions to guns and the call for gun laws.
Finally as the facts clearly state throughout the paper it is that the ability of each individual to have the capacity to protect against harm of street crime or home invasion. There may not be time or even opportunity to contact authorities as a crime is being committed and life is at risk. It has been shown that if criminals believe there is a high probability that a potential victim may be armed they will not attempt the crime or go to other places where the personal risk is lower. Through education, laws that punish mishandling, not ownership, of firearms, and devices that can lower the risk or even eliminate all together the loss of life to accidental firings, can we have a better understanding on the use of handguns. Yet even then those die hard anti-gun people may never see the light demanding that we all live by their world view and not be allowed to have our own.