6:35 p.m. : William Wallace had a very stressful day at work and is now driving home. As he is travelling along the I-10 freeway in Los Angeles, he suddenly comes to a complete stop. Gridlock traffic is not an unusual sight for any motorist that travels on this freeway, and William decides to exit the freeway in order to escape the madness. He exits on the next off ramp and comes to a red light at a busy intersection. As he patiently waits for the stoplight to change illumination he thinks about his wife and his two beautiful daughters. Suddenly the driver’s side window is shattered and glass disperses throughout the interior of the car. William looks over to find a brick resting on the passenger seat next to him. A hooded man runs up to the side of his car and violently opens the door. The man points a gun and shouts at William to get out before he gets hurt. As William struggles to unbuckle his seatbelt, the man hits him against the side of his head with the pistol. William is then forcefully pulled out of the car and thrown onto the asphalt in a manner of rage. William looks over and sees a man step out of the car behind him pointing a 9mm pistol with one hand and holding a police badge in the other hand. The off duty officer shouts for William’s attacker to stop. The hooded man panics and opens fire on the officer. William watches the officer take three bullets to his chest and fall to the ground. The hooded man then jumps into William’s car, slams on the accelerator and races straight into the busy intersection. The next sound that William hears is burning rubber, crushing metal to metal, and shattering glass. William is bleeding severely and barely conscious when the paramedics arrive several minutes later.
The story above is fictitious, but these kinds of horrifying crimes occur everyday in America and innocent people are being killed. Crime in America has become as common as a cold. Television, movies, and music have contributed towards desensitizing our outlook on violence. The children of today are growing up in a society that is full of violent crimes and other such atrocities. People are being killed while just taking a walk, driving on freeways, going to school, and even in their own homes with stray bullets from drive-by shootings. It should not be this way. Innocent people should not be persecuted by the hands of unstable arm-bearing people on angry power trips. Something terrible has happened in our society and the citizens of this once ‘great country’ have greatly lowered their moral and ethical values. The fact is that people are no longer taking responsibility for their own behavior. What once used to end with a harmless bloody nose is now resulting in blood baths. “With two hundred million guns in circulation and another fifteen thousand manufactured everyday, there are enough firearms to arm every man, woman, and child in the United States”(Bender & Leone 16).
Any ethical American would agree that gun related violence is a major problem in today’s society, and that gun control looks like a serious solution. The constitution states that every citizen in the United States has the right to own a gun. The second amendment in the Bill of Rights states, “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” (Miller 28). This bill was written over 200 years ago in 1791, and has been debated ever since. When our forefathers wrote the constitution, every man in every state was part of the U.S. militia and could be called upon at any time to help protect the country in a case of emergency or national threat. This is no longer relevant in today’s society. Today there are varied branches of the military that are separate from the citizens of the United States.
“Indeed, questions about the meaning of the
Second Amendment are at the heart of the
argument over gun control. Gun-rights
advocates maintain that the amendment
guarantees every individual the right to own
a firearm without restrictions. Gun-control
supporters contend that the Second Amend-
ment’s guarantee refers to state supported
militias, not to individuals” (Bender &
“Every 2 years, more Americans are killed by guns at home than were killed in all the years of the Vietnam War” (Safran 17). Gun control seems like an obvious answer to one of our country’s most serious and catastrophic problems. Yet the concept of gun control remains to be one of the most controversial issues in the United States today. There are only two sides to the issue: Those for gun control and those opposed to gun control. Although the 2nd amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear arms, there have been many laws passed for gun control in recent history. Gun control advocates and associations that promote gun control have fought numerous lawsuits in court trying to regulate the sales of firearms in our country. Advocates of gun control practice lobbying, which is a method of working to influence their local representatives and legislators. Years after James Brady was shot in 1981 trying to protect president Ronald Reagan, his wife Sarah Brady was successful in passing the Brady bill through congress in 1993. The Brady bill requires a seven-day waiting period to conduct background checks on all gun purchases. Other proposals that have been recently passed by congress are the ban on assault rifles in 1994 and the limitation of certain kinds of ammunition (Kelly 142). Handgun Control, Inc., an association for gun control, has proposed many laws to help keep handguns out of the wrong hands. Some of the proposed laws are the following:
“A waiting period and background check; convicted felons and drug users could not buy guns
A mandatory jail sentence for using a hand gun while committing a crime
A license-to-carry law; a special license would be needed to carry a handgun outside a home or place of business
A ban on the manufacture and sale of snub-nosed handguns; the Saturday Night Specials
A ban on the manufacture and sale of plastic handguns, which can get past metal detectors and other security screening devices
Mandatory safety training programs for people who buy handguns”(Miller 24).
Many gun control advocates believe that having guns in the home is not an effective means of self-defense against intruders or other criminals. “…a study by Arthur Kellerman, a doctor and researcher, found that a gun in a home is forty-three times more likely to be used to kill a member of the household than to be used in self-defense”(Bender & Leone 99). There have also been studies that found that having a gun in the home can lead to gun related accidents involving children as well as contributing to suicides in the household.
Gun control advocates may propose many effective means towards ending gun violence, but anti-gun control advocates believe that these proposals restrict them of their constitutional right, the right to bear arms. Opponents of gun control do realize that there is a big problem with gun related violence in America, but they believe that putting restrictions on firearms will not change anything at all. These opponents say that violence is a social disease, and that putting limitations on guns won’t change anything, as people will find other ways to kill each other and themselves. The largest organization of gun advocates is the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA’s slogan, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” sums up the beliefs of most gun advocates. The NRA was founded in 1871, and today they have nearly 3 million members. Most of these members are gun collectors, gun dealers, gun manufacturers, hunters, and sports shooters (Miller 31). The NRA claims that gun control would set restrictions that would interfere with legitimate sports and hobbies. In America, there are 33 million people who use guns for hunting, 7 million for target shooting, and 2.5 million gun collectors (Gottfried 55). The NRA has been very successful with lobbying and persuading politicians to vote against gun control legislature. Gun advocates firmly believe that American citizens have the right to own guns as a method of self-defense. A study conducted by a professor at Florida State University found that handguns used in self-defense kills 1,500 criminals annually (Gottfried 48). With the mass uprising in crime over the last few decades, gun advocates believe that owning guns reduces crime. Another key position for those opposed to gun control is that guns reduce violence, and that guns are also used to stop criminals from causing any violence (Gottfried 54). Gun advocates also believe that by putting restrictions on gun purchases would only hurt the honest citizen, as criminals could still purchase them on the black market. They say that anti-gun laws would be a spur to the black market in firearms. If guns were to be banned, gun advocates believe that the same thing that happened in the 1920’s with the prohibition of alcohol would just happen again. Honest law abiding citizens would find themselves buying guns from the black market to protect themselves.
Gun control sounds like a very wise step towards ending gun related violence and crime in our country. “Every year, more than 24,000 Americans are killed with handguns in homicides, suicides, and accidents” (Safran 22). But the fact is that in America, no matter how many great ideas that gun control advocates come up with, gun advocates will always come up with just as many justifiable opposing viewpoints. Many other countries do not share the same laws on guns as the United States and they have found lower rates in crime, murder, or even both. Canada, Switzerland, Great Britain, and many other countries across the globe all have different gun laws. In many of these countries, in order to possess a handgun the person must have a special license. Before they can get the license, they must pass a background check and have a good reason for wanting to own a gun. In these countries, self-defense is not considered a legitimate reason for wanting to own a gun (Miller 34). In Japan, the only people that are allowed to hold firearms are government security workers. Japan also has one of the lowest criminal violence rates of all countries. “In 1990, 37,155 people died from firearm wounds in the U.S. compared to 13 firearm deaths in Sweden, 91 in Switzerland, 87 in Japan, 68 in Canada, and 22 in Great Britain” (Safran 22). These statistics above show that by setting a standard for gun control will lower the death toll in our own country caused by guns. There is no reason for the senseless massacre on our streets to continue.
Bender, David L., and Bruno Leone, eds. Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego, Ca: Greenhaven Press, 1997.
Gottfried, Ted. Gun Control : Public Safety and the Right to Bear Arms. Brookfield,
CT: Millbrook, 1993.
Kelly, Raymond W. “Gun Control Will Reduce Violent Crime.” Opposing Viewpoints.Ed. David L. Bender and Bruno Leone. San Diego, Ca: Greenhaven Press, 1997. 139-44.
Miller, Maryann. Working Together Against Gun Violence. New York: Rosen Publishing Group, 1994.
Safran, Claire. “Private Ownership of Handguns Leads to Higher Rates of Gun Violence.” Opposing Viewpoints. Ed. David L. Bender and Bruno Leone.
San Diego, Ca: Greenhaven Press, 1997. 17-25.