Gun Control: To Shoot Or Not To Shoot
The Gun Control conflict is a deep-rooted debate in America. Although an individual has the right by law to own and possess a firearm, the fight goes on. On June 26th 2008, the Supreme Court gave Americans this right. There are many major social debates in America right now; such as Abortion laws, Immigration, and Gay Marriage. With these extensive topics, the debate on Gun Control can easily be swept under the rug. However, this is a mistake because it does not matter if an individual is Republican, Democrat, Religious, Atheist, and Immigrant, or a Natural born citizen the laws on Gun Control will affect some part of their life. In this brief overview, I will attempt to explain two opposing opinions.
In this article, two opposing sides will be presented. On the con side of the argument are Philip J. Cook of Duke University and Jens Ludwig of the University of Chicago. On the pro side, there is Gary Kleck who is a professor at Florida State University.
The first issue at hand is the argument over murder rate. According to Philip J. Cook and Jens Ludwig, "Increased gun use will result in a higher murder rate. When an assailant uses a gun instead of a knife or club, it greatly increases the chance that the victim will die. Guns do not cause violence, but they intensify violence." Cook and Ludwig are trying to convey the point that violence will exist with or without the presence of guns. However, violence will be taken to a higher degree or level when guns are present.
Secondly, Gary Kleck supports an American's right to bear arms. His first order of business is to make clear that he does not support a convicted criminal the right to bear arms. He clearly tries to convey that he supports non-violent, non-criminals right to bear arms for their own protection. He does not believe that murder rates will rise, but decrease.
On April 9th 1981, former Senator Edward Kennedy, made a statement about unsuccessful crime-control. In this statement he says, "The question is not whether we will disarm honest citizens...The question is whether we will make it harder for those who break the law to arm themselves..." In this cleverly worded statement Kennedy tries to bring home the point that if guns are made available for safety they will also be used for harm. Kennedy spoke from personal experience on this topic. Two of Kennedy's brothers had been assassinated.
On May 6th 1983 former President Ronald Reagan made an address at a National Rifle Association convention in Phoenix, Arizona. IN this speech he proclaimed, "Guns Don't make criminals; hardcore criminals use guns. Locking them up and throwing away the key is the best gun-control law we could ever have." He stated this after he had survived an assassination attempt. He realized through that incident that no amount of laws can hold a true criminal back. He basically states, all or nothing, in the realms of gun control; that violent people will continue being violent people with or without a gun, and that a victim should have some form of defense. Even after looking death square in the face he continued to be a supporter of the National Rifle Association.
IN the argument of, "Will wider availability of handguns increase public safety?" Cook and Ludwig reiterate many times that if gun regulation are relaxed, crimes such as assault, robbery, and rape will become more prevalent. However, this type of information cannot be proven until such acts are committed and acts such as that should be prevented at all costs. To prove this point, they brought up the evidence that the percentage of suicides that involved guns fluctuate with the amount of gun stored in households.
Kleck responds to this question. He talks about gun ownership and that higher availability to non-criminals will improve public safety. That if criminals acknowledged that their victim might have a form of defense it will deter them from taking part in a crime. However, according to Reagan no amount of laws will deter a true criminal.
Cook and Ludwig are trying to nip the risk at the bud and ban any use of handguns. To summarize, they believe that handgun ownership will lead to higher suicide rates, common occurrences of crimes, and heightened intensity of already existing violence. Former Senator Edward Kennedy speaks from a deep personal tragedy against arming or disarming any citizens. The complete ban of guns in his opinion would alleviate the majority of the problem. They have a strong argument, but does it combat the opposing opinion well enough to change the Constitution?
To summarize the pro gun use argument, I will hit on the main points. Reagan makes clear that people should be as armed and ready as possible. Kleck shares that gun ownership will increase public safety and that he agrees with a non-violent, non-criminals right to bear arms. Although fair points were made in this argument, how do their points stand against Cook and Ludwig's argument?
In the 2008 Supreme Court case: District of Colombia vs. Heller clears up the vague meaning of the Second Amendment. This new provision 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." Although this provision excites the National Rifle Association, those for strict gun control could not be more disappointed. Cook and Ludwig make clear that their view of the Heller decision saddens them and they worry that gun prevalence will become more dominant. Kleck is happy for the decision; however, he believes it will not drastically increase teh number of households that own a gun.
There is debate on this topic that usually gets overlooked. The debate is on the rise and should be paid careful attention to, because it does not matter if you are for, against, or sitting on the fence on this subject it will affect you. It is better to be informed than to be in the dark.