The issue of citizens owning guns in the United States is fast becoming a cause for concern. Death by gunshot is listed under unnatural causes, and in the United States of America, it is fast approaching the top position. The United States laws contain a law that has been amended twice to protect the citizens' right to possess firearms. Another bill, called the Brady law, also exists to prevent ex-convicts or people with criminal records from legally purchasing firearms. The history of gun-related killings in the United States is very concerning. The majority of the citizens in the U.S own guns that they claim are for their protection. Despite this, weapons have been used in a variety of different crimes, ranging from homicide to burglary and petty theft cases. The most resounding argument in support of gun possession is that people handling the guns are the ones irresponsible enough to commit a crime with them. Therefore, the need for stronger gun control measures to discriminate between who can be able to own a gun and thus decrease the rate of gun-related crimes each year is paramount
The Bill of rights has a provision for American citizens to bear and hold arms. The wording of the Act is straightforward and hence, the confusion on why the issue needs to be debated. The interpretation of this Act by different people can distort its meaning and even ascribe a different meaning to the Act. Some hold that the Act protects the gun owner's right to have the guns while others hold that the Act is misinterpreted and that it was meant to protect the states' right to maintain their military. The Second Amendment was passed at a time when guns were already rampant in the United States. American citizens previously owned guns in droves. The argument that American citizens need to be allowed to carry firearms for their safety is legitimate. However, gun control also makes for a factual and legal claim and will allow people to feel much more secure when they sleep in their houses at night. Guns have been rated as the leading cause of violence. The weapon itself is not the problem, though, it is the person who possesses the firearm. At the period when this Act was passed into existence, the state of crime-fighting in the United States was not as it is now. The justice system has evolved drastically, and currently, the people do not need to hold and own guns at all. However, since they already own them and have gotten used to them, giving the firearms up would be a hassle and hence, the gun control debate.
In the year of 2004, 210 million privately owned guns were recorded in the United States. At this point, making this many people give up their firearms should prove to be a challenging task. Even if the Second Amendment were to be amended a third time, it would not affect or change anything. People would still need to own guys for their protection against random crimes that can occur. Prevention is better than cure. It is better to prevent a crime from happening than to seek justice for a crime that has already happened with one or more casualties severely injured or dead. It is why America needs gun control. (Mount).
In February of 1994, President Bill Clinton officially signed the Brady Act, which resulted in crime rates decreasing by 25%. The Act contained several items to this effect, the most effective being the waiting time for every gun purchase. The waiting time was beneficial for several reasons: It provided a time window for the buyer to calm down and do away with their murderous thoughts; it also allowed for an in-depth background check on the buyer. If the buyer were flagged down as an ex-convict, felon, mental patient, juvenile, current drug, or recovering addict or had a prior criminal record, then the gun sale would not go through. This would result in safe streets and homes. The Brady law seeks to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals. It defines guidelines that will be used to either make an individual eligible or ineligible to own a gun or guns in the United States. Inappropriate individuals will not have the opportunity to commit a crime since they will not be able to own firearms legally.
Illegal possession of firearms is an offense on its own, and therefore, they have to resort to that route; their case will be straight forward without controversies. So far, the Act has been a staggering success. In its first year of implementation, 1994 to 1995, about 15,000 in over 400,000 applications for gun ownership were declined on account of ineligibility. Fifteen thousand potential criminals were denied the chance of owning guns legally in the U.S in that year, and fifteen years later, over 100 million background checks have been conducted, with 2 million of these screens resulting in denial cases. An analysis done in 2009 by the FBI showed that gun ownership applications in that year had 48% of denials slapped to felons while fugitives took 16%. The law would be instrumental in regaining control of American streets, a way to bring back the feeling of security back into the hearts of American citizens when they realize that day by day, fewer potential criminals are getting their hands on a firearm (The Brady Campaign to Prevent Violence).
While the gun laws help U.S control the possession and sale of guns, in California, all firearm sales must take place at a certified gun dealer with the buyers being over 18 years old to purchase a shotgun and 21 years old to buy a handgun (Vittes 828-831). For a handgun to be sold, the buyer must produce a safety certificate, with exceptions extended to military and law enforcement personnel. Without this certificate that proves that the individual can handle a gun and has received professional training on gun safety. There would then follow a waiting period lasting at least ten days, which gives the ammunition dealer to conduct a background check that ensures the buyer does not have prior criminal records. Also, in California, an individual is allowed to purchase a gun only once a month or 30 days and also to carry a firearm while hidden, an individual will require the Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) permit. To acquire the said permit, an application form will have to be filled and submitted for approval to the county sheriffs department, which could take up to 90 days. When the permit is approved, the individual can only carry the firearms indicated on the license and must always carry the permit with them at all times. California is just an example of how gun control laws can be useful in controlling gun-related crime. All these requirements are only for the safety of the ordinary citizen and to ensure only responsible citizens have access to guns (Kamala).
Apart from criminal elements possessing guns legally to commit a crime intentionally, there are other incidences of accidental death by gunshot. These types of accidents contribute to a more significant percentage of gun-related deaths every year in the United States. This all boils down to safe storage. When guns are stored safely, they cannot be accessed by children or other household members who do not know how to use them. Upwards of 50% of the American population owns guns, and of this 50%, 85% do not know or ignore the importance of safe storage of firearms in their homes. Studies show that over 3,000 children die due to guns being stored unsafely every year. This number also involves cases of suicide and homicide and undetermined cases among children. This massive number of deaths is preventable if the parents can try and exercise better gun storage safety practices. Some of the safety storage practices include pointing stored guns facing a safe direction, having the guns unloaded at all times when they are in storage, and keeping the firearms far away from children's reach (The Brady Campaign to Prevent Violence).
Guns can be a devastating instrument of destruction when in the wrong hands. It does not matter how much gun-control laws are passed; criminals will always find a way to acquire a firearm illegally. Even though people wat to argue that it's the people handling the guns that are at fault and not the guns themselves, the truth is that the situation is two-sided. The weapon and the holder are both necessary elements for the crime to happen. If this is the case, then regulating one should affect the other. In this case, since guns have already been owned by American citizens for a decade now, it would not make sense to call them back. Therefore, regulating the people who handle them is the best way to go. The current gun-control laws are good, but the law-makers can do better. It is imperative to ensure that gun-related deaths reduce as fast as possible and within the shortest time possible. It must trickle down to the individual having a sense of responsibility. The law-makers owe the citizens better and stringent laws that will curb gun possession among ineligible members of the society. As seen, criminals get guns, even if illegally. This is the next step in gun control. Make laws to capture illegal arms dealers. Rules to weed out and smoke out unauthorized dealers of firearms would undoubtedly go a long way in reducing gun-related deaths-a long way.
Kamala, D. Harris (2012) Bureau of Firearms. Department of Justice. Retrieved from www.oag.ca.gov/firearmsSteve Mount. (2012). U.S. Constitution." Retrieved from www.usconstitution.net/The Brady Campaign to Prevent Violence. (2012) "Gun Violence." Retrieved from http://www.bradycampaign.org/facts/gunviolence\Vittes, K. A., & Sorenson, S. B. (2008). Keeping guns out of the hands of abusers." American Journal of Public Health. Vol.98 Issue 5, PG 828-831. Doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2007.24115 Retrieved from http://web.ebscohos
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