Should the government enforce stricter gun control?
A-CAPS 4360: Capstone Paper
February 7, 2014/
Should the Federal Government Enforce Stricter Gun Control?
Gun control has been one of the most argumentative and controversial issues in America today. The media is constantly making the public aware of all the altercations regarding firearms and the enforcement of laws controlling firearms. When we see these issues on television we become accustomed to the fact that gun control is a political debate but it is also an ethical debate. Our founding fathers had very explicit beliefs in the right to own weapons and ensured that it waswritten in the U.S. Constitution. As we enforce guns laws and policies, we must not violate these rights that were given to us but continue with the beliefs this country was founded on. At the same time, it is our responsibility to take measures in the risk to safety and security by ensuring these firearms are used responsibly. The balance between our Second Amendment rights and how to guarantee the right of safety is where the long history ofpolitical and ethical debate begins.
As we hear more and more about mass shootings, huge debates regarding gun control escalate. There are many people whobelieve thatstricter gun control would prevent future violent crimes or mass shootings. On the other hand, others feel it would not affect the crime rate but only leave us unable to defend ourselves and our property.Our society should be concerned with gun control since this affects how the federal government controls our constitutional rights. If the right to bear arms is taken away,whatwouldhappen to the rest of ourAmendment rights? Would it allow the government to make changes to the whole Constitution? These Amendment rightsgive meaning to what it is to be an American. Should we not be able to preserve those rights? Should we not also be able to have rights to security and safety? If we do not allow the federal government to enforce stricter gun control what will happen to our society? Will we continue to live in fear that one day we may get caught in the middle of a mass shooting? If we can prove that our society would be a lot safer without weapons or with some restrictions on weapons, would this not be the best utilitarian outcome? Or do we just need to find ways to enforce the existing gun laws so we will not infringe upon the liberty of the people to possess firearms?
In order to fully understand the ethical debate, one must understand the history and meaning of the Second Amendment. As stated on constitutionlaw.com, The Second Amendment was developed as a result of the tyrannous rule of the British parliament. Colonistswere often oppressed and forced to pay unjust taxes at the hand of the unruly parliament (An Overview of the 2nd Amendment). As a result, Americans wanted an amendment that would guarantee them the right to bear arms and protect them from similar situations the British created. This amendment was created to provide for the common defense and the general welfare of the United States through the ability to raise and support militias (An Overview of the 2nd Amendment).Constitutionlaw.com states, There are two known versions of the Second Amendment: one that was passed by Congress, while the other is found in the copies distributed to each individual state and later ratified by them (An Overview of the 2nd Amendment). Congress version of the Second Amendment 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 (2nd Amendment to the U.S.). The State version can vary in terminology like the right of the people changed to the duty of the people. The Congress version will be the focus of this paper since the research is in regards to the federal government and not individual States. What does it mean to keep and bear arms? The term arms refers to weapons, to keep arms is to have weapons, and to bear is to carry which bear arms isthe carrying of weapons (2ndAmendment to the U.S.). The meaning to have and carry weapons seems simple butit does not justify the scope of limitations of who can carry a gun and what type of gun. Since it lacksthese details,it allows for the interpretation of the amendment to continuously bedebated.
The first gun,called the Chinese fire lance was recognized by historians in the 10th century. It was made out of bamboo or metal tubes that projected shrapnel (Harder). Cannons then appeared in Italy around 1320 and were modified in Europe as they encountered many wars. As the 16th centuryapproached, weapons had become extremely advanced and deadly.Adams stated, Americans showed to have such great concern that in 1692, the Massachusetts colony passed the first gun control law that forbade the carrying of offensive weapons (960). By 1791, The Second Amendment was ratified,which some viewed as a guarantee as an individual right, others as a collective right tied to well-regulated militia (Jost 899). In 1800s,settlers walked around with rifles to hunt game and fend off hostile natives. But historians claim the role of firearms in this period has been greatly exaggerated andthat no more than 10 percent of Americans owned guns (Adams 960). Congressional Digest states that in 1871, the National Rifle Association (NRA) was founded by two Civil War veterans to promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis (2). By the 1930s,Adams claimed, the National Rifle Association (NRA) was the largest citizens group of firearms owners who began to influence federal gun laws (960). In 1934, the National Firearms Act was a concentrated attack on civilian ownership of machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, silencers, and other relatively rare firearms that had acquired reputations as gangster weapons (Zimring 4).The act required all gun owners to register their weapons even if they were illegally owned and it imposed a high tax on the manufacture or sale of machine guns and sawed-off shotguns (Mantel 243). The Federal Firearms Act of 1938 was the first attempt to impose federal controls on the commerce and possession of a broad spectrum of firearms (Zimring 4). Then in 1939, Jost states the Supreme Court took collectivist view of the Second Amendment and upheld the National Firearms Act and ruledthe Second Amendment applied to weapons with reasonable relationship to militias (899). Following Robert F. Kennedys assassination in 1968,Congress made a revision to theoriginal Gun Control Act andwas signed by President Johnson. This revision to the now called Gun Control Act of 1968 was designed to provide support to Federal, State, and local law enforcement officials in their fight against crime and violence (Zimring 1). As pointed out by Zimring, it had three major objectives:
(1) Eliminating the interstate traffic in firearms and ammunition that had previously frustrated state and local efforts to license, register, or restrict ownership of guns.
(2) Denying access to firearms to certain congressionally defined groups, including minors, convicted felons, and persons who had been adjudicated as mental defectives or committed to mental institutions.
(3) Ending the importation of all surplus military firearms and all other guns unless certified by the Secretary of the Treasury as particularly suitable for …sporting purposes (10).
In 1972,Congressional digest states, The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) is created and charged with control of the illegal use and sale of firearms and the enforcement of Federal firearms laws (2). Adecade later Congress passed the Armed Career Criminal Act in 1984, which enhances the sentences of those convicted of using firearms in crimes of violence (Gun Violence Prevention 2). If a felon is convicted more than twice for a violent act, the sentence of a maximum of ten years under the Gun Control Act becomes a minimum of fifteen years to a maximum sentence of life in prison. Then in 1986, The Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act made it illegal for anyone to manufacture or import armor-piercing ammunition, or cop-killer bullets, which are capable of penetrating bulletproof clothing (Gun Violence Prevention 2). President Reagan then signed the Firearm Owners Protection Act in 1986, legalizing interstate sale of rifles and shotguns which weakens the 1968 Gun Control act (Jost 467). Four years later in 1990, Congress banned import of assault weapons and immediately enacted the Crime Control Act (Jost 899). This act directed the attorney general to develop a strategy for establishing drug-free school zones that included criminal penalties for possessing or discharging a firearm in a school zone(Gun Violence Prevention 2). Three years later, President Bill Clinton signed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (1993), which requires a five-day waiting period for buying guns to allow background checks of buyers; unlicensed private sellers are exempt (Mantel 243). In 1994,the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act sometimes called the assault weapons ban, was signed by President Bill Clinton. This law banned military style assault weapons from being manufactured and sold for 10 years; it also banned ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds (Mantel 243). Then, Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia endorsed individual rights view of Second Amendment in 1997 (Jost 467).
Another important time in gun control history was in2004, which on September 13th the nations 1994 ban on assault weapons expired after President Bush and congressional leaders made little effort to extend it. Senator John F. Kerry responds: Today George Bush chose to make the job of terrorists easier and make the job of police officers harder (Adams 959). Finally in 2013,as stated in Congressional Digest, President Obama introduced proposals to tighten gun control laws. His plan includes universal background checks for gun sales, the reinstatement and strengthening of the assault weapons ban, limiting magazines to a 10-round capacity, and other measures (2).All these laws that I have mentioned are a few ofthetwenty thousand gun laws that the United States has written on the books.
The National Rifle Association has been the biggest advocate in supporting AmericansSecond Amendment right. The National Rifle Associations CEO, Wayne LaPierre, believes the answer to gun violence is not stricter gun control but to enforce the thousands of gun laws that are currently in effect. The National Rifle Association today has been known to intimidate national legislation, which has made them one of the strongest lobbying groups in the U.S. In the past, they have shown to successfully alter gun restrictions or even terminate them to work in their behalf. Due to the huge support of well-known politicians like Dick Cheney, who has spoken at the NRAs annual convention,plus celebrities like Clint Eastwood, Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp, the NRA grows in popularity and power. There are other groups that support the Second Amendment, which consist of the Gun Owners of America (GOA), Second Amendment Foundation, American Legacy Firearms, United States Concealed Carry Association and many more.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has been a firm proponent for the federal government to enforce stricter gun control. They claim that without stricter gun control, the level of crime and gun violence will increase, thus causing our rights to safety and security to decrease. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence was founded in the eighties; founder Jim Brady, Reagans press secretary was shotduring the attempted assassination of the President. Jim survived the serious head wound and now works with his wife Sarah to fight for gun laws that will protect American families and the community. There are many other groups and politicians that fight for the same cause like the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Americans for Gun Safety Foundation, Childrens Defense Fund, Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, Violence Policy Center, President Obama, Senator John McCain, and celebrities like Piers Morgan, Michael Moore, Mia Farrow and Sarah Silverman. The Brady Campaign has been the National Rifle Associations biggest threat due to its huge supporters and they have continued to make it difficult for the NRA to remove or change any existing gun laws.
Before presenting main arguments on stricter gun control, here are some statistics pertaining to guns in the United States. Tchividjian, an ethics consultant, showed the following statistics on January 14, 2013:
1. There are 47 percent of Americans who have firearms at home.
2. About 300,000,000 guns are in the United States.
3. There are 129,817 federally licensed firearms dealers in the United States.
4. As of 2010, thenumbers of new firearms manufactured were 5,459,210 in the United States.
5. In 2008, there were 31,593 people killed by gunshot wounds in the United States.
6. Between the years 2008 to 2009, 5,740 children and teens died from gunshot wounds in the United States. (1)
The Congressional Digest showed that recreation use was themost common motivation for owningfirearms and thatthere were approximately fifteen million hunters by 1994, which is thirty five percent of gun owners in the United States (5). Bob Adams of CQ Researcher found that, Guns are the second-leading cause of death (after motor vehicle accidents) among Americans under age 20 and the leading cause of death among African-American men ages 15 to 24(952). Adams also states that gun violence costs the United States $100 billion a year (952). These few statisticspresented can give a better understanding of how many guns are in circulation, death rates and what it costs the United States.
In sec (101), the United States congress makes a declaration to support the Federal, State, as well as the local enforcement agencies in their efforts to fight violence and crime. The federal laws impose restrictions on law-abiding citizens with reference to possession, acquisition or the use of guns. Gun possession is allowed only for the purpose of personal protection, trapshooting, hunting, target shooting or any other lawful purpose. However, this provision is not meant to deprive law abiding citizens the right to ownership or use of private guns. Hence, the Federal regulation imposes strict measures to the United States citizens who use their personal guns for other purposes rather than the ones stipulated in this provision. According to sec (101) of the gun control laws, the federal regulations give the mandate on acquisition, use and possession of guns. To eliminate any element of ambiguity, the law describes the name firearm as any weapon that will, or designed to expel a projectile through an explosive action. Similarly, it defines the term short gun as any weapon made or remade, designed or redesigned with the intention of firing, or designed to make use of explosive energy to fire a single projectile or multiple shots once the trigger is pulled (Gun Violence Prevention 2).
Moreover, in an effort to prevent violence and crime, transportation of guns is only allowed for a licensed importer, licensed dealer, licensed manufacturer or licensed collector. According to US Federal laws on gun control, it is not in accordance with the law for any person knowingly to be in the possession of a gun that would affect interstate commerce at a place known to the person, or has a reasonable knowledge to identify the area as a school zone.
Additionally the law requires one to have a certificate of eligibility in order to purchase pistol, handguns, revolvers, ammunitions or long guns. Further, the applicant has to complete an official safety course and must pass a National Instant Criminal background check system before issued with a certificate (Mantel 240).
Besides enforcement of Federal laws on gun control,the long history of gun violenceis another reason why stricter gun control is being debated. Due to themass shootings, the public has demanded for the government to make changes to our gun laws.Butagain, this is a very controversial issue that causes huge debates. So to better understand the long history of gun violence,some historical mass shootings will be presented in chronological order. Kenneth Jostillustrates a timeline in CQ Researcher:
On May 18, 1927, a school board member in Bath, Michigan named Andrew Kehoe, killed forty children and several adults.
August 1,1966, a University of Texas student named Charles J. Whitman,armed with rifles and a sawed-off shotgun, wounded thirty-onepeople and killed fourteen.
July 12, 1976, California State University custodian Edward C. Allaway,armed with a semi-automatic rifle, wounded two and killed seven.
July 18, 1984, James Huberty armed with an Uzi and a shotgun, killed twenty one people and wounded nineteen others at a McDonalds in Ysidro, California.
January 17, 1989, Patrick Purdy using an AK-47 assault rifle with a 75-round magazine, killed five children and wounded thirty others at a playground in Stockton, California.
September 14, 1989, Joseph Wesbecker using an AK-47 rifle and two MAC-11 pistols, killed eight people and wounded thirteen others at a Louisville, KY printing plant before committing suicide.
January 25, 1993, Mir Aimal Kasi used an AK-47 with a 30-round magazine, killed two CIA employees and wounded three others outside of the Langley, VA headquarters.
February 28, 1993,the shootout at the religious cult compound called the Branch-Davidian in Waco, TX took the lives of four ATF agents pluswounded sixteen others. This religious cult had assault weapons including 123 AR-15s, 44 AK-47s, two Barrett .50 calibers and an unknown number of MAC-10 and MAC-11s.
April 20, 1999, students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO killed 13 people and wounded 23 others before killing themselves.
August 16, 2007, Virginia Tech University student Seung-Hu Cho killed 33 and wounded 29 others before killing himself.
May 31, 2009, anti-abortion crusader Scott P. Roeder used a military style rifle to kill Dr. George Tiller, one of the few doctors in the United States who performed late abortions.
November 5, 2009, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, an army psychiatrist, killed 13 people and wounded 30 others with a semiautomatic handgun at a processing center in Fort Hood, TX (459-462, 911, 963).
Other recent gun violenceincidents mentioned by the Huffington Post:
In 2012, James Holmes killed 12 people and injured 70 others when he opened fire at anAurora, CO movie theater (Aurora Shooting 2012).
December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza went into the Sandy Hook Elementary School, killed twenty children and six staff members with a semi-automatic rifle (Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting).
January 25, 2014, Darion Aguilar armed with a shot gun, killed two people and himself at a mall in Columbia, Maryland (Darian Aguilar, Maryland Mall Shooter).
This timeline of mass shootings is only a small portion of a long list that has happenedin the United States. These were presented because they were the most publicized and debated occurrences in history. As you can see, mass shootings have risen as the years advance, choices of weapons are more extreme and the severity of killings are becoming more violent. This is why stricter gun control has been long debated between politicians, the community and concerned citizens.
One argument regarding stricter gun control would be the interpretation of the Second Amendment. Gun control opponents state that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed means we have the constitutional right to own a weapon to defend ourselves. Adams explains that we not only have a constitutional right to own a gun but also a natural right and states, You have a right to live, and therefore, a right to defend that life (957). Opponents would agree that we have the right to live but we do not need guns in order to protect ourselves since we have police enforcement. The National Rifle Association added that The Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting. It has to do with our God given right to defend ourselves (957). As stated on revolutionarywarandbeyond.com, opponents say the Second Amendment purpose does not only refer to the states need for security, but to individual self-defense (3). It backs this theory by adding the fact that James Madison originally proposed the second amendment to be inserted into the Constitutions Article I, Section 9, between clauses 3 and 4 (The Second Amendment). This section of the Constitution covers all the individual civil rights that are used by United States citizens to defend themselves against unjust government officials which limits the power of the government (The Second Amendment). Because Madison wanted this to be placed in this section of the Constitution,many believe that he interpreted the right to bear arms as an individual right. Madison intended for this Amendment to be inserted into the Constitution and not at the end, but Congress still made the change. Michael Chapdelaine, a Paleoconservative states,if the Second Amendment was collective then the rest of the Amendments like freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, and petition are not individual rights and therefore, there would be no question that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right (1).
Laws.com states that gun control proponents pose three main concepts regarding the interpretation of the Second Amendment:
First, they claimthe Second Amendment is now outdated and obsolete because the different interpretations cause confusion and should be changed to coincide with modern times by being more explicit or just written off. Second, the inclusion of regulated militia, arms are to be kept for the sole purpose of defense of tyranny attempt by the government to suppress the people. To that extent, firearms should otherwise be restricted from other uses with few exceptions. Third, this Amendment right is not absolute and is limited by reasonable requirements such as when the commonwealth may be possibly threatened. (2)
Proponents ask why in todays modern society United States citizen need to have firearms when we have the presence of professional police forces that represents the Amendments regulated militia. Adams states, the Second Amendment has always been mentioned in the context of a militia and the debate was purely about the role of armed state militia as opposed to national, standing army (957). Adams alsofound from his extensive researchthat the Second Amendment history showed no connection with the personal use of firearms for the purpose of hunting, recreation or protection (957). Revolutionarywarand beyond interprets the meaning that the right to bear arms is not an individual right, but a state right and for state purposes and is supported by the opening phrase in the Second Amendment, which says, A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State (3). Proponents of this interpretation say since the purpose is for the state to have the right for security then the right of the people is said to be collective and not individual.
Another argument would be the ban on assault weapons. Proponents like Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) states that, If twenty dead children in Newtown wasnt a wakeup call that these weapons of war dont belong on our streets, I dont know what is (Mantel 238). The Senator at a press conference stated that the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban that ended in 2004 was effective at reducing crime and getting these military-style weapons off our streets (Mantel 238). Many proponents claim that assault weapons are not only dangerous, but they are not needed for recreational use and that people should be able to protect themselves with standard weapons. Gene Voegtlin, Legislative Counsel of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, stated, Theyre designed to do one thing: kill a lot of people very quickly, and they have no place on our streets (Adams 963). Recent reports from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) stated, Attacks with these high-capacity guns results in more shots fired, more persons hit and more wounds per victim than do attacks with other firearms (Adams 965). The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence reported that assault weapon crime declined by sixty six percent when the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban was in effect and that the NIJ concluded that this ban was effective (Adams 965).
Opponents found independent studies, including one from President Clintons Justice Department, proved that the 1994 ban had no impact on lowering crime (Congressional Digest 25). Gun rights activists claim that if the government bans assault weapons,this will eventually lead to all weapons being banned. This will then violate the peoples right to bear arms to defend themselves from any potential threat. Gunlaws.com stated, It has already been proven that criminals can acquire semi-automatics as well as illegal automatic weapons, why should citizens settle to protect themselves with firearms that are not equally as potent for purpose of defense and survival?(3). NRAs spokesperson Andrew Arulanandam stated, Anyone who says assault weapons can kill a lot of people quickly is intentionally misleading people and with semiautomatic firearms, you have to depress the trigger every time you want a bullet to fire (Adams 963). The National Rifle Association also showed that these types of weapons were only involved in one percent of crimes- before, during and after the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban (Adams 965).
Stricter background checks have also been in arguments. Proponents want the federal government to extend background checks to all gun buyers.Recent polls conducted in March of 2013 showed that eighty three percent of the public was in support for expanding background checks (Gun Control 2).The Congressional Digest states the National Law Enforcement Partnership claimed, Background checks work. They stopped nearly two million prohibited purchases between 1994 and 2009. We already have a national background check system in place. Therefore, extending background checks to all firearm purchasers can easily be implemented- and should be, without delay (30). Garen Wintemute of the Violence Prevention claims:
Our current system is plagued by two major shortcomings. First, perhaps 40 percent of all firearm acquisitions, and at least 80 percent of those made with criminal intent, are made from private parties. No identification need be shown, no background check conducted, no record kept.
Second, licensed retailers keep their records to themselves. If a firearm is used in a crime and an effort is made to trace its chain of ownership, the trace ordinarily ends with the first retail purchaser. Yet 85 percent of the time, the criminal who used the firearm is someone else. Without an archive of transactions, the firearm cannot be traced and beyond its first purchaser (Mantel 249).
Background checks can be very effective by reducing approximately twenty five percent the risk of the buyer committing new firearm-related or violent crimes (Mantel 249).Proponents also claim we need stricter background checks because the current system has serious gaps which are the reason we had so many mass shootings, Virginia Tech being one of them. SeungHui Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter, passed several background checks when he purchased his weapons that were used to kill 32 people and himself (Mantel 244). Despite a judges decision that Cho was mentally ill, he was never placed in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NCIS). If stricter background checks were enforced, then once a judge or doctor claims someone mentally ill they would have been placed in the NICS system immediately. Again, the same thing happened with Jared Loughner, who shot Representative Gabrielle Gifford in the head, he was never reported to NCIS for his long history of drug abuse before he passed background checks to purchase his guns.
Opponents like Stephen P. Halbrook; attorney for the Second Amendment,made this statement, Your papers are not in order! Its five years in prison for not registering to exercise a constitutional right. Unthinkable for any other right, but not the right to keep and bear arms just ignore the shall not be infringed part of the Second Amendment (Mantel 249). He also states that criminals do not register guns, and this is the reason why police do not check registration records before responding to crime scenes (Mantel 249). Proponents conducted a survey of state prison inmates who committed handgun crimes and found that eighty percent of them purchased their guns from either friends or family members or the black market, ten percent stole their guns and ten percent purchased a gun from a licensed dealer (Mantel 240). As for the issue of gaps in the current background system, opponents say that they fear stricter background checks because they feel people will not seek treatment or will not reveal their true feelings in therapy, knowing they will be placed on the NCIS system. Last but not least, mental health groups warn that extensive background checks reporting people with mental health illness,would expose them to discrimination and prejudice and possibly deter some people from seeking treatment altogether (Jost 464). Honberg, at the National Alliance on Mental Illness states, We have real grave concerns about people with mental illness being a population thats singled out. Even if someone was severely disabled 30 years ago, we have plenty examples of people who have gone on to recover and are living independently and are working, and are upstanding citizens, do we want to include all those people in the database (Jost 464). Another example would be veterans who have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan that was diagnosed with post traumatic stress syndrome (PTS) would be barred from owning guns. According to the National Rifle Association, around 114,000 veterans and their families have been denied the right to possess a firearm based on their mental health history because when they file for disability, the Department of Veterans reports them to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. This just seems ironic to opponents because we are taking away rights from those who have risked their lives to protect those same rights. And just because they have PTS does not necessarily mean they are dangerous to the public or to themselves.
Proponents for stricter federal gun control claim that it is the governments duty to protect citizens. By doing so, the government needs to keep firearms away from those who should not possess them. Though stricter restrictions placed on people, like ex convicted felons or the mentally ill, prohibit them from purchasing guns or carrying them may impose on their rights, the cost will be worth the price since guns will be kept out of their hands. Proponents state that the Second Amendment is a collective right and that the utilitarian perspective, the greatest good for the greatest number, is the answer in protecting our society from gun violence.
Opponents agree that the government has a duty of protecting citizens, but in a different way. They feel the government should give each individual the inalienable right to life, liberty and the moral right and obligation to defend oneself. Opponents claim that the utilitarian perspective should be interpreted differently by not allowing stricter gun control. They claim that the, greatest good for the greatest number, would be allowing the rights of citizens to own weapons to defend themselves, and by not allowing them, would decrease the utilitarian outcome.
Therefore, the federal government should not enforce stricter gun controls since there are many prevailing gun laws in the United States of America. The gun laws regulate the possession, use, and sale of ammunitions and firearms. The US government needs only to enforce these existing gun laws to reduce the crime levels. These gun laws are independent of the prevailing federal gun laws and vary from state to state. There are several federal guns laws in existence.
Firstly, the National Firearms Act of 1934 which imposes a tax on the production, registration, and transport of particular firearms. These firearms that are legally controlled are of various categories. For example, Class III Weapons include machine guns, rifles, shotguns, and explosive munitions of massive destruction such as mortars, grenades, large projectiles, and rocket launchers. Worthy to note a Mac-10 with a suppressor or silencer is treated as class 3 Weapons. Secondly, the 1968 Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act which was enacted after assassination of John Kennedy in 1963. This law prohibited a person less than 21 years of age to engage in handguns trade. Thirdly, another gun law (Gun Control Act) was enacted in 1968. It enabled the interstate trade in firearms only among licensed dealers, importers and manufacturers (Gun Violence Prevention 2).
Fourthly, the 1986 Firearm Owners’ Protection Act was codified to provide to provide revisions in provision of 1968 Act. Fifthly, there was yet another act of gun law that was enacted in 1988 to prohibit the import, manufacture, ship, sell, deliver, transfer, or possess those firearms that could not be detected at the airport. Lastly, other examples of the gun laws include the 1990 restriction of individual from possessing firearms in any place perceived as a school zone, the Brady Law which was enacted by the president Bill Clinton (based on an attempted assassination of Regan), and restrictions of manufacturing and transferring of semi-automatic firearms fondly known as assault weapons. Eventually, the opponents of stricter gun control affirm to the full enforcement of the existing laws as they believe would reduce the crime levels without infringement of the rights to own guns by the law abiding citizens (Mantel 240).
However, the existing gun laws are not fully enforced. Firstly, President Obamas government has failed dramatically in the enforcement of existing gun laws. In 2007, almost every being on earth remembered the strong and promising speech of the candidate Obama. Candidate Obama promised to enforce the existing gun laws by strengthening background checks to increased efficient crack down of unscrupulous and unauthorized firearm dealers. However, Obama has not managed to fulfill enforcement of the existing gun laws. The Newton shootings serve as good evidence (Zimring 3).
Secondly, the failure to fund the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) is an indication of a failed system to fully enforce gun laws. Thirdly, the US government is reluctant in prosecution of those victims who fraudulently misrepresent information at NICS. The Federal Bureau of Intelligent (FBI) has reported thousands of cases of misrepresentation of information, but only less than a hundred cases have had prosecuted. Lastly, illegal gun traffickers and straw man supplies get away with existing gun laws (Zimring 4).
Another contentious issue is allowing those with medical illness to enjoy gun rights. However can we say human rights activist are always, right? It is a question of a yes-or-no answer. It needs critical thinking and evaluation of cases where human rights are exempted, because right to live surpasses all other rights. For example, the assassinator John Hinckley suffered from mental illness (as he was found later) and shifted his assassin motives from president to president, including President Reagan. He was found not guilty by essence of temporary insanity and taken out of prison custody. Therefore, mentally ill people should not be given right to own and bear guns as they are dangerous as seen before in American history. Their evil motives range from assassination to massive shooting (Congressional Digest 26). Therefore, existing gun laws on mental illness requires to be enforced to the letter.
In an effort to reduce gun violence without stricter gun control,our federal government needs to take the responsibility in enforcing the current laws. Organizations like the NRA and the community, who value gun ownership, needs to put the pressure on the federal government. In doing this, citizens have the right to file petitions to the state legislature, or place a ballet to be voted upon by voters, or just voting for those who have the power to make changes. In taking these actions, we can see that Congress willprovide more funding, like grants for our current background check system (NCIS), ensuring it has enough money to run properly. Gun rights advocates may petition that Congress enforces prosecutions of people who falsify information on their gun background checks.Or, ensure that our current laws like requiring all manufactured guns or imported guns contain serial numbers which helps law enforcement with forensic work and finding who committed the crime more quickly. Gun rights advocates mayrequest that Congress start new long-term gun violence programs which could help those who may have symptoms of underlying social and psychological issues that may lead to violence. They may request the federal government to find a course of action in reducing poverty in order to reduce violence because studies have found direct correlation between deep poverty and escalations of violence (Should the country…. 1). Or, find ways in funding community outreach programs andgiving U.S. citizens easy access to mental health services. These steps and many more are the first steps in reducing gun violence without having to spend more money in additional laws.Again, society just needs to take the effort in seeing that they are being enforced by becoming more aware of our laws, request laws to be changed or enforced by filing petitions to the state legislature or placed on a ballet to be voted upon by voters and voting for those who have the power to make changes.
After presenting a strong argument against stricter gun control, there is confidence in asserting that gun rights promote the good of the society. The society with these gun rights feels more secure against regular crimes such as burglary and robbery with violence. The American people are given freedom and rights to protect themselves as enshrined in the constitution of the land. The moral responsibility lies with the American citizens to comply with the existing gun laws.
Gun violence is certainly a huge epidemic and has been an issue for a long time, but stricter gun control may not be the answer. The things we need to consider are other factors as apossible key in reducing violence. For example, cultural factors like poverty, unemployment, the spread of gang violence, celebrity and sensationalized violence which recently was said to be the motive of Darion Aguilar, at the Columbia, Maryland mall shooting. All of these factors may be far more convincing in why we have such a huge spike in gun crimes. But all in all, the only way Americans are going to make any progress on any stricter gun control debate is to relinquish the commonheld fallacies that gun lawswill stop criminals from killing.