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Gun Violence and Gun Control

The issue of gun control has been debated for a long time, probably ever since they were invented. The gun is a small, rather easy to obtain, weapon that is lethal if used in the right (or wrong) way. This makes the gun an extremely dangerous factor in our lives. If used improperly, a gun could be lethal to not only the target, but the user as well. The availability of guns has sky rocketed in the past decade or so, and the immense population of guns in our society make it a dangerous place to live. Gun violence claims approximately 38,000 lives in the U.S. each year, including 5,000 children and teenagers. In the past few years, many steps have been taken to help reduce the risk of fatal accidents or intentions. One of these steps was the ban of assault weapons. Several years ago, congress passed a landmark bill, banning the sale, manufacture and, importation of semi-automatic assault weapons and large capacity ammunition clips. Due to this ban, the number of crimes traced to assault weapons has decreased almost 20% from 1994 to 1996. This ban was repealed by the House of Representatives. On March 22, 1996 another big legislation in the fight against guns was the Brady bill, which demands a 5 day waiting period for all handgun purchases. These legislation's are somewhat effective and in different ways. The only real way to eliminate most gun violence is to eliminate the availability of guns. Surely making guns illegal would do this but this raises a very important issue. If you outlaw guns, only the outlaws will have guns. Simply put, no matter how many bans you put out, there will always be the black market to support the criminals in the U.S. Needless to say the law abiding citizens of our country would be defenseless. The NRA has made sure that this will never happen. What the United States needs is someone to pass a bill that will protect all our citizens. Some men and women in Washington think they are that someone. Some think that there should be more availability of guns. Let's see what they both think. In 1992, as I mentioned, Congress passed a ban on the sale, manufacture, and importation of all semi-automatic assault weapons. Soon after the 104th Congress resumed power, The House of Representatives repealed the ban as a pay back to the National Rifle Association (NRA) who had funded thousands of dollars to Congressional candidates through their Political Action Committee (PAC). According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the NRA has spent over $3 million in 1993 and 1994 alone on campaign commercials. The NRA is one of the major organizations and the biggest in the fight for pro-gun ownership. According to polls, 65% of Americans say they would be more likely to vote for a Congressman who would not vote to repeal this. 18% said they would vote for someone who would repeal this ban and 15% said it would not affect their vote. It is important for Americans to know how their Congressmen stand on the issue. In 1981, the president at the time Ronald Reagan and his assistant, James Brady, were both shot in an assignation attempt on Reagan. Brady was paralyzed and has been ever since. The man who shot them had bought his gun no longer than a day or two before the shooting. On March of 94' a bill, quite appropriately named The Brady Bill was passed demanding a mandatory waiting period on all hand gun purchases. The period is used to do background checks on the customer. Each state has the right to regulate restrictions as to what on this background check would prevent a customer from purchasing a gun. In Massachusetts, the restrictions are as follows: The person must be over the age of 18; the person must be a United States Citizen; the person must never have been convicted of felony; the person must never have been convicted of a drug charge, even a misdemeanor; and the person must not have any reported mental illnesses. In other states these laws are different but, they are very similar. This bill was signed by President Bill Clinton. Although this is a federal bill a problem arises with states not willing to accept this bill for some reason are using the 10th amendment to ignore the Brady Bill. The 10th amendment gives the powers, not given or prohibited by the constitution, to the states. It is a slim chance, if any, but some lawyers in these states are fighting the Brady Bill. Another restriction on the purchase and owner ship of guns is a mandatory permit or License to carry firearms. These permits are issued by a citizen’s local police department and must be presented when buying a firearm. These must also be shown when a police officer requests a gun owner to display his/her license. If you do not have a permit and carry a gun it is a mandatory sentence of one year. Politicians feel this bill will help prevent people from getting mad with someone and going out, buying a gun and killing them the next day. This also reduces the convicted criminal’s sources to the black market. Recently, there was a suggestion for an increase of 100,000 police officers. This is still being decided but it certainly couldn't hurt. What does the future hold for gun control? It all depends on who we vote for. President Clinton during his presidency signed two major bills for gun control. The Brady Bill, which I discussed earlier, and the ban on semi-automatic weapons. Both actions were criticized by the NRA and other pro-gun ownership organizations. In fact the NRA's lobbying efforts are the reason it took thirteen year to pass the Brady Bill and the why the ban on semi-automatic weapons was repealed. The NRA say's "Bill Clinton has had the most anti-Second amendment Administration in our history, and he's proud of it." They believed that if Clinton were to achieve his goal for another four years in the house, he would eventually license, tax, and ban the second amendment out of existence. President Clinton's administration believed that he would bring many pro-gun control supporters to the 105th congress. The NRA takes a direct approach to the second amendment: The Right to Bear Arms, period. Clinton, on the other hand, takes a different approach, that of a more complicated nature. He passed different bills with different regulations on buying a gun and has said to, by the NRA, the have created gray areas of the law. But if the NRA were president, then this country would bleed to death. We simply cannot let anyone and everyone have the power to kill another human being by twitching their index finger. On the other hand, the absolute ban of guns would not successfully disarm the criminals while it would disarm the civilians of the country. The NRA had sent many complaints to the Clinton administration about the destruction of guns. Clinton's gun buyback program destroyed countless firearms including collector’s items and valuable guns that had never been fired. They complain that historians, collectors and, target shooters are not happy. They claim the reckless destruction of historical artifacts is inexcusable. However, it is said that the rate of gun violence has gone down since the passage of the Brady Bill and the gun buyback program. This program however was very costly but, not as costly as 38,000 American lives each year. Maybe a different approach to the gun control question is that of Canada. Canada's crime rate and gun violence are impressively lower than the U.S. Let’s take a look at how they do things. Aside from just guns, bow and arrows, crossbows, and just about any harmful projectile is subject to licensing in Canada. Any .25, .32 caliber pistol, or guns with barrels shorter than 4.14" are completely banned. Everyone must buy their own gun, meaning not to give them as gifts or anything. Bill Clinton praised Canada's system of gun control highly. All guns there must be registered by make, model, and, serial number. A new law in Canada will soon ban 58% of their guns, even non-firing replicas of these particular weapons. (I don't think this is necessary). This maybe extreme but registering your gun is not difficult to do. A study conducted by two Ohio coroners and two professors from Case Western Reserve University conducted a study proving the ineffectiveness of a gun for protection. Their result was surprising. It is seventy percent more likely for a gun in the home to kill someone you know than an intruder. They came out to the fact that for every one intruder killed by a gun, four family members are killed. To put it simply, if you come for a large five person family and you shot a burglar coming into your house, statistically, you have killed your entire family. Another study has proven that seventy percent of murders in the U.S. were committed by family members or acquaintances. People allegedly get so angered they use the protection gun to shot a family member. This contributes to the percent of family members killed. Would people think twice before killing or committing if they had to use a knife or a bat? Some people think so. I agree. Researchers have proven also that areas of the country that have high gun control, have lower crime rates. If no one has a gun, you need not protect yourself with one, true? Toledo, OH used to be the highest gun populated gun city in America, they passed a gun control law and successfully dropped the crime rate 22%. Countries with gun control as liberal as the United States' are hard to come by. This may contribute to the nearly 85 times more gun deaths per year than England, who have a strict gun law. Japan has the lowest murder rate of all. Standing at a low, .02 percent per 100,000 people Japan is a country to learn from. In 1972, Japan suffered a astoundingly low 28 gun deaths. The U.S. on the other hand incurred 10,017 deaths. Japan has completely outlawed the possession of hand guns for civilians. This may not be as bad of an idea as I though. Although Japan holds the idolized lowest rate, they are closer to the rate of other countries than the U.S. They, in fact, are not at the extreme end of the spectrum the U.S. is. England, France, and the Netherlands are all examples of major countries with low murder rates. They all have one thing in common; they require citizens to register all guns. Point being, if you want protection, protect yourself by keeping guns out of the house. My practical thoughts on gun control in the U.S. are this, one cannot follow the Second amendment literally and give the country complete freedom to bear arms or, completely take away a citizen’s right to protection. Because not all citizens are fit to own a gun and, not all guns are fit to be owned by common citizens. My thoughts one the matter lies in the middle, most near the ideas of the Canadian system of gun control. I think that a mandatory waiting period for the purchase of a gun is an extremely good idea in that it will not allow minors, criminals, drug users, or mentally ill people to buy guns. A permit is good idea so that police may check to see if a gun owner is legally certified. Since protection and hobby are the main (and should be the only) reason for a civilian to buy a gun, guns that are made for killing, for example all assault weapons, should be banned. There is simply no need for them. This would put only protective guns into the hands of law abiding citizens. Now what about criminals; they get guns by making them, buying imports or let's not forget stealing them. First off, in my opinion it should be illegal to import guns or gun related material to anyone accept the U.S. government. The black market would surly suffer. For those who make guns, there should be a restricted supply of materials to make guns. This supply should be government regulated. All firearms should be registered by make, model, and serial number, and police should be able to run checks on this mass catalog of guns and owners. While I am on the topic of police, the number of police should be increased to help increase the number of confiscated guns. Not much in my opinion can be do about stolen guns. If a criminal takes a gun from a citizen who should have a gun, there is no way any bill or law can stop him. Since it is obviously already illegal, the only way to stop that is more police. Simply put, an intense amount of regulation should be put on guns. It's like having a fire. If you keep it in your fire place, know exactly where it is, and control it, it will heat your house and cause no danger. If you randomly spread fire everywhere forgetting where you placed it, lighting it where it doesn't belong, you then have a problem and you may get hurt. Well, the fire is spreading fast and people are burning everywhere. The government has no idea where the guns in this country are or where the next piece, of what once was our home, will burst into flames. If we don't act quickly, this country will burn to the ground. We need a giant fire extinguisher and a responsible person operating it. We have to put the fire back in its place. My personal views on gun control are a bit different. Ideally I would become the Japanese as far as gun control and outlaw guns for private citizens. I think that if you want protection, get a security alarm. 1 out of every 4 burglaries occur when the home owner is not even home, and in no danger. A toddler looking around in her daddy's bedroom however should not have to be. If you want a gun for leisure or hunting that is a different situation but take my word for it, getting a gun for "protection" is a false sense of security.…...

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