Gun Control Legislation

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Gun control remains one of the most heated topics in the American political debate, and while some are looking to restrict gun rights, the second amendment of the constitution provides the American citizenry with an unalienable right to gun ownership (Klukowski). Each time a crime is committed with a gun, some on the political spectrum argue for tighter enforcement of existing gun laws or, most often, new gun laws. They argue for highly restrictive background checks in some cases. In other instances, these individuals advocate for outright bans of certain types of weapons. In extreme cases, individuals argue for a constitutional amendment designed to override the second amendment. These solutions are problematic because new gun restrictions would simply take guns out of the hands of those people who intend to use guns in a lawful manner. Likewise, gun legislation would do nothing to stop the real problems of violence, which occur not because of guns but because of other factors. Guns are just the avenue chosen by individuals who carry out crimes, and tightly restricting guns would simply encourage would-be assailants to choose other means of carrying out their crimes. Perhaps more importantly, tighter gun restrictions would likely increase the number of property or other crimes committed by would-be criminals, as these individuals would be free to operate without the fear of repercussions from a law-abiding gun owner. With these things in mind, no further gun laws or restrictions should be passed.

Gun legislation runs into a fatal flaw in the beginning, as it is ideologically faulty. The concept behind new laws is that they would keep guns out of the hands of criminals, thus making the streets safer and alleviating the problems associated with gun violence. The problem with this, though, is that would-be criminals already show that they do not respect the law. To a person who is planning on robbing a store or committing a murder, an existing gun law is just one in a large number of laws that must be broken in order to carry out the action (Utter). The would-be criminal has shown a willingness and ability to go outside the law, so it makes little sense to assume that the person would respect gun laws. What this means, then, is that the only people respecting gun laws would be those people intending to use a gun for lawful purposes. It would, in effect, create a situation where the only people carrying or purchasing guns in America are those people intending to do harm with them.

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America is currently under some level of gun saturation. Any gun legislation must necessarily take into account the guns that are currently on the market. While gun laws in theory could work, they run into major problems because of the mass of guns already on the market. By restricting or limiting the legal sale of guns to law-abiding citizens, the country would simply be empowering a massive black market, where criminals and other nefarious characters would still have access to guns. Good, honest people would be unable or unwilling to purchase guns through these markets. This would create something of an open season on property owners and law-abiding citizens, as would-be criminals would be operating with a new knowledge that homeowners do not have weapons (Simon). Given that property crime is already a major problem in many parts of America with legal gun ownership being allowed, it follows that property crime rates would spike in a version of America where guns were tightly restricted. This would be especially true in times when the economy was struggling, and given the economic outlook for the country, it is as important as ever to provide disincentives to this kind of criminal activity.

In addition, one should note that restricting guns would not necessary remove violent crime. A gun is just the vehicle that a person chooses in order to commit a violent crime. Violent criminals could also use knives or other weapons in order to commit crimes. Restricting guns would only shift or change the way that people commit their crimes. It would unnecessarily burden people who want or need to defend themselves while not fixing the root problems that many Americans see. The vast majority of gun-related crimes are not mass shootings where a person uses a high-powered weapon to take out multiple victims (Cornell & Florence). Most often, gun crimes are single-victim events where victims are killed at close range. In these types of crimes, a knife could very well be used to carry out the crime, and unless the United States is planning a ban or restrictions on any type of dangerous item, there exists little chance that the country will be able to completely suppress violent crime. With that in mind, the country would be infringing on constitutionally guaranteed rights with no clear purpose in mind.

Those in favor of tighter gun control argue that across the world, statistics show that cultures with fewer guns also have fewer gun crimes. This is the primary argument at the heart of the debate on gun control and legislation. What these individuals fail to comprehend, though, is that in other cultures around the world, gun regulations have been in place for many years. Likewise, many cultures around the world are more homogenous, so their crime statistics may have more to do with socioeconomic conditions than the presence of guns. In those countries, it is possible to have gun legislation because a critical mass of guns has not yet developed in those countries. In the United States, the number of present guns means that passing new gun legislation would only leave the streets filled with guns purchased on the black market by would-be criminals.

Ultimately, the constitution is quite clear on the question of guns (Cornell). It protects the right of individuals to own firearms. Restrictions and further legislation is wrong-headed for a variety of reasons. It fails to address the real causes of crime, which arise because of economic inequality and other environmental issues. Likewise, further gun restrictions would simply create a society where the only people carrying weapons are those who intend to carry out crimes with those weapons. Given the problem of property crime and the likelihood that property crime rates would dramatically increase with tighter gun restrictions, the country should abandon its seeming need for further restriction.

  • Cornell, Saul. “A New Paradigm for the Second Amendment.” Law and History Review 22.1 (2004): 161-167.
  • Cornell, Saul, and Justin Florence. “Right to Bear Arms in the Era of the Fourteenth Amendment: Gun Rights or Gun Regulation, The.” Santa Clara L. Rev. 50 (2010): 1043.
  • Klukowski, Kenneth. “Citizen Gun Rights: Incorporating the Second Amendment Through the Privileges or Immunities Clause.” New Mexico Law Review 39 (2009): 195.
  • Simon, Jonathan. “Gun Rights and the Constitutional Significance of Violent Crime.” Wm. & Mary Bill Rts. J. 12 (2003): 335.
  • Utter, Glenn H. Encyclopedia of Gun Control and Gun Rights. The Oryx Press, 4041 North Central Avenue at Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ 85012-3397, 2000.

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