The gun policy controversy has been going on for decades, and the only way to start understanding the issue is to define what gun control means. In general, weapons control refers to “any type of limit on what types of guns can be sold and purchased, who can own or sell them, where and how they can be handled or transported, what responsibilities a seller has to vet a buyer, and what rights both the buyer and the seller have to report transactions to the government” (Pérez-Pea, Richard para.3). This implies that gun control is after ensuring that guns remain in safe hands and are used only when necessary. It also implies that those who distribute guns should act responsibly. A critical look at gun control issues dates back to the mid 20th century and every generational change comes with new problems that require unique solutions. However, the core debate in all the dispensation has been whether gun control can reduce violent crime. The truth of the matter is that gun control has the ability to reduce violent crime, but it may not really affect other forms of death and injuries caused by guns in the wrong hands.
To begin with, it is necessary to understand the Mecca of all these gun control issues. First, there is suicide, then homicides and various other forms of violent crime that over the ages have stimulated the much hyped debate on gun control. In 1979 there were 27200 suicides committed by the gun, and two decades later the number increased to 30500 deaths (Jacobs, James B 6). A casual comparison with similar deaths in developed countries such as Canada, France and Germany revealed that the figures were extraordinarily excessive with percentages less than 50 percent of those of the US (Jacobs, James B 6). A recent look at the numbers also shows that deaths from guns have remained stable with over 30000 deaths reported in 2013. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that among the deaths over 50 percent were as a result of suicides (DeSilver, Drew). This begs the question of whether gun control can reduce violent crime. The answer is yes- Gun control can reduce violent crime, but it cannot reduce the number of deaths cause by violent crime unless it is accompanies by social and legal mechanisms that promote both social responsibility and deterrence.
The Case for Gun control
As already seen, gun deaths account for more than 50 percent of all suicide cases in the US, and 7 percent of all homicides (DeSilver, Drew). The follow-up argument is that since suicides makes up most of the deaths from the use of guns, then a very small impact in terms of deaths as a result of guns is likely to be born. However, the independence of suicide as a death cause should not worry much. That notwithstanding, it must be acknowledged that however small the effect gun control is it is still necessary. Richard Pérez-Peña states that “Fewer guns, better records on who has them, and some restrictions on purchase, possession and storage, gun control advocates argue, would still allow law-abiding people to have firearms, while resulting in far fewer deaths” (par.28). The essence here is that not all people have the ability to handle the responsibility that comes with a gun. The threshold for owning a firearm must be leveled to that of a law enforcement officer such that individuals who own the firearms can exercise caution and avoid causing injury to others.
On the one hand, advocates for gun rights believe that a wholly armed society is safer than one in which fewer people own guns. They claim that allowing all people to own guns promotes equality and also acts as a deterrent from aggression against persons and also crime. on the flip side, opponents claim that having more people with guns promotes the social problem of people resorting to gun violence as the last resort to solving even of the simplest disputes. However, this debate is still wide open and social science has made no conclusion to show that either side has enough facts to carry the day.
The Case against Gun Control
In equal measure, the case against gun control is strong and has several points to ponder. However, the most important is the provision of the second amendment which allows an individual to acquire and bear a firearm. The deficiency of the second amendment is found in the fact that it does not explicitly define a firearm leaving the individual to decide. For instance, a nuclear weapon is a firearm, and therefore an individual can harbor such (McClurg, Andrew Jay 64). Legally speaking these individuals have rights to guns and no one should interfere.
The Way out
The arguments for and against gun control can never be conclusive, but looking at all the presenting facts in the lens of principle helps strike a balance between the gun problem and its benefits. This is a rhetorical conflict that can only be resolved through the practical application of the law in the current times. Clearly, the circumstances and problems of the 18th century when the second Amendment was passed have sublimed into the thin air. In the 18th century there were no cases of terrorism on the international scale as it is today. In those days, international conflicts were more rampant, and as a nation a people could tackle a common enemy. Today, terror activities have become bloodier and terrorists move around as common citizens going about their normal duties (Jenkins, Brian Michael 117-8). Therefore, no one really knows who the enemy is, including the gun issuing agencies.
It must be agreed that the Second Amendment in its letter and spirit is outdated and the 18th century context is no longer here. One possibility of refuting the provisions of the Second Amendment on the subject of firearms is to say that gun rights are only beneficial if they are in the interest of the society and not the individual. While proponents of gun rights argue that guns in every hand promote respect to other people, the act of giving larger and more sophisticated firearms to citizens contravenes the actual need for guns. Individuals should not have bazookas and machine guns, rather, they must only be allowed to hold smaller arms that act as self defense against aggression and maybe for hunting and related activities that preserve the right to human life. In addition, gun control laws must ensure that every individual that is allowed to own a gun is in the right state of mind and has no criminal record in relation to gun violence. Federal laws on gun use must employ serious vetting processes that should be in a position to single out terrorists and immigrants with suspicious character. Training on gun use should also be provided. That way, it will be possible to monitor how guns are issued and used so as to avert deaths that come from irresponsible use of guns.
DeSilver, Drew. “Suicides Account For Most Gun Deaths”. Pew Research Center, 2017, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/05/24/suicides-account-for-most-gun-deaths/.
Jacobs, James B. Can Gun Control Work?. 1st ed., New York, Oxford University Press, 2002,.
Jenkins, Brian Michael. “The new age of terrorism.” Terrorism and Political Islam (2006): 25.
McClurg, Andrew Jay. “The rhetoric of gun control.” (2010).
Pérez-Peña, Richard. “Gun Control Explained”. Nytimes.Com, 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/10/07/us/gun-control-explained.html?_r=0.