Gun Control: Informative Essay

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Guns are innovative and versatile tools that have found many uses in various aspects of our lives. In rural communities, it is used as a tool to hunt and eliminate pests, as well as to protect against attacks from wild animals. Guns are also found to be used as recreational tools through their use in various competitive sports. In the urban setting, gun ownership is a means to protect an individual’s property as well as human lives.

In the United States, gun ownership is a fundamental aspect of the American identity and an expression of individual rights and freedom. The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. However, the right to gun ownership and the relative ease of acquiring guns contribute to the prevalence of gun-related violence in the United States. Gun-related violence includes accidental injuries, assaults, homicides, suicide, and mass shootings. For example, there is strong evidence that an increase in gun ownership is followed by an increase in the number of homicides (Cook et al., 2011).

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Everyday occurrences of gun violence like accidents, assaults, homicide, and suicides may not elicit a sense of urgency like in mass shootings, but cumulatively these incidences have a higher death toll than mass shootings. These different types of gun-related violence affect different population demographics. With homicide, guns are a problem in cities, particularly the minority communities, as compared to other areas (Cook et al., 2011). According to the CDC’s statistics, suicide is the driving force behind the increase in overall gun deaths in the U.S. Out of the 40,000 gun-related deaths in 2017, 60% are attributed to individuals committing suicide using a gun. The popularity of guns used in suicides is because of the availability and the relative ease of acquisition in the U.S. and their higher efficacy compared to other methods of suicide. These gun-related suicides largely affect elderly and middle-aged white men. (Gajanan, 2018).

Like many issues, gun control has become one of the battlegrounds of different political ideologies. Major gun control measures started with the Gun Control Act of 1968. This was after the assassination of Martin Luther King and President John F. Kennedy. The National Rifle Association (NRA), a non-profit group that defends the interest of gun owners, had taken a more active political stance in counteracting the restrictions introduced by the Act.

Through the collective effort of the NRA, the Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986 was passed. The new Act modified the Gun Control Act to allow the legal interstate sales of rifles and shotguns, eliminate specific recordkeeping requirements for ammunition dealers, and increase ease private sales of guns without a license. Even today, the NRA is still active in protecting the interest of gun owners by adding the use of mass media to its arsenal (Waxman, 2018 Gray, 2018).

In 1993, Kleck and Patterson studied and compared various gun control policies to determine their effectiveness. They determined that effective gun control policies revolve around gun owner licensing, stronger controls over illegal carrying, stricter local dealer licensing, bans on possession of guns by unfit people (criminals and mentally ill people), and discretionary add-on penalties for committing felonies with a gun. These policies are not only effective, but also relatively moderate, popular, and inexpensive. Policies like waiting periods and gun registration don’t appear to affect rates of gun-related violence (Kleck & Patterson, 1993).

The success of proposing better gun control policies and effectively enforcing them is highly dependent on the predominant public opinion. Mass shootings have become the poster child of gun control advocacy due to both the sensationalism given to it by mass media and the sense of urgency offered by the advancement and accessibility of mass media. Though public discourse is the first step toward policy change, using mass shootings as a gauge to create effective gun control policies is flawed and harmful (Fox & DeLateur, 2014 Kleck, 2009). Normal gun restrictions like restrictions on gun shows, child access prevention laws mandating locking up guns, and bans on assault weapons will unlikely prevent or deter the occurrence of mass shootings.

For example, gun control measures enforced in schools like locker searches or the use of metal detectors at school entrances will not be effective against mass shootings – a single instance of planned gun-carrying into the school is enough to bring down large numbers of victims. Mass shootings are characterized by premeditation and planning. There is a persistent desire to acquire guns as tools of murder. The gun control measures enforced merely delay gun acquisition, like waiting periods, which merely place minor obstacles in the mass murderer’s way (Kleck, 2009).

This gauging undermines the merits of existing gun control policies and makes them seem ineffective and a waste of time. Some advocacy groups, particularly the NRA, use this to their advantage to discredit the effectiveness of gun control policies and silence those who have different opinions. A notable example is the NRA advocates that gun control laws are not the answer to gun-related violence during the wake of the mass shootings in 2018 (Gajanan, 2018).

Gun control and other initiatives may not stop the next mass shooting, but they can still improve the well-being of millions of Americans. However, effective reduction of gun-related violence will involve extreme steps that the public will be unable or unwilling to take, which as the abolishment of the Second Amendment (Fox & DeLateur, 2014). It is an essential reform – the removal of semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns and rifles from civilian possession making it illegal to purchase them.

The effectiveness of reform like this can be seen in the gun control reforms that the Australian government passed after the 1996 gun massacre in Tasmania. Chapman et al. 2006 studied Australia’s 1996 gun law reforms to investigate its effectiveness with regard to the reduction of the prevalence of gun violence. They found that by comparing the 18 years before the gun law reforms with the 10.5 years afterward, there were 13 mass shootings in Australia before the reform and no incidents in the 10.5 years afterward. The rate of total gun-related deaths, homicides, and suicides improved the existing rates declined by at least twofold (Chapman et al., 2006).

Effective removal of guns in the possession of civilian owners is essential in order to ensure the efficacy of gun control policies. In the case of the Australian Government, 643,726 of the prohibited semi-automatic and pump-action rifles were bought from gun owners through the 1996-1997 Australian Firearms Buyback Policy. Public support for the policies was also a major contributor as thousands of gun owners voluntarily surrendered non-prohibited without compensation from the government (Chapman et al., 2006).

Guns are merely tools but have a great impact on our lives. Reducing gun-related violence is a complex issue that cannot be effectively solved by using just one approach. Significant reduction can be achieved through the effective enforcement of various gun control policies and the cooperation of the general public. Addressing the primary reason for owning a gun, the threat of violence may effectively eliminate the personal need to own a gun. It is essential that the public understand the importance of activists, professionals, and volunteer groups in changing and shaping the culture and norms with regard to gun control and ownership.

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Gun Control: Informative Essay. (2024, January 04). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 19, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/gun-control-informative-essay/
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