The Gun Control Debate
Gun control and whether to have stricter firearm regulation policies has become a debated issue in America. Media houses have taken this matter and ran with it since almost every news station appears to be reporting on the matter of gun control. For starters, gun control is used to refer to implementing control police to help manage the production, selling and the distribution of guns in the hands of the public. This topic has become so controversial to an extent that it splits the nation into two with each faction having a different point of view on the matter of gun control. This paper discusses the problem of gun control in the US and argues why there is the need to implement gun laws in the US. The paper, in supporting its argument, will present how Japan and Australia handled their gun troubles and how they have since enjoyed the policies they implemented.
The problem of gun policies
In the United States, the second amendment is used by anti-gun law proponents to defend their arguments. The second amendment allows citizens the right to own and store guns in their homes (Blocher, 3). Since the passing of the bill, people have embraced guns so much to an extent that statistics have shown the existence of approximately one hundred guns for every eighty eight people. So, it is safe to assume that there is a gun in circulation for every individual in the country: man, woman and child. This goes to show how dire the situation has become. In recent times, school shootings have become an almost common occurrence where students walk into school with guns and massacre their fellow students and teachers. These occurrences, if not anything else, are what makes gun control necessary. However, attempts to get this done have been met with fierce opposition from those who are against implementing gun regulation policies citing the violation of their second amendment rights as their major argument (Blocher,10). The topic has become political which has only served to make the nation even tenser. Democrats appear to be in favour of the implementation of regulation policies while those in support of the Republican Party coming out as bent on opposing regulation laws (Blocher, 10).
The need for gun control policies
The first and major reason why there should be gun regulation policies is the fact that more deaths in America are as a result of gun violence compared to those that come about from terrorist instigated situations (Hemenway, 2). According to Hemenway (2), the money spent by the government in anti-terrorist defences is more than what is spent in protecting citizens against gun violence. This makes one to wonder why the government has not made any steps to rectify the situation even after being aware of the statistics. The number of school shootings that have been reported, and the casualties left behind by the shootings should be a reason for implementation of gun laws (Siegel, Ross & Charles, 2100). The fact that school going children are able to access guns and even carry them around to school only proves that the existing laws are not strict enough to ensure the safety of the average person. Apart from schools, gun violence in the streets of America is also alarming (Siegel, Ross & Charles, 2100). The number of gangs that roam the streets, and are able to easily get guns to terrorize law-abiding citizens is on the rise and needs to be stopped. This can only be possible if there are stricter laws put in place to make access to guns hard.
The second argument for gun laws is that the existing policies are not being followed to the latter (Squires, 20). Background checks on individuals before they are allowed to own guns are not being done extensively as a result of the tension that is between federal laws and individual state laws as concern the second amendment. The irregular implementation of laws has resulted in a reduced number of people being screened for existence of mental health conditions thus resulting in mentally unwell individuals obtaining guns with ease (Squires, 22). When the individuals kill people with these guns and plead to be mentally ill in court, there is nothing that can be done. So, why not have policies that strongly emphasise the importance of extensive and thorough background checks to effectively handle the situation instead of allowing it to escalate and become unmanageable? Prevention is better than cure, and making policies that will reduce deaths from guns will in the long run benefit the nation.
The third argument for gun control is that the argument that people have guns for self-defence holds no water at all. If statistics are anything to go by, guns are rarely used by the owners to defend themselves. Statistics show that between 2007 and 2011, there were 29, 618, 300 crimes of violence were committed (Masters, 2). Out of these numbers, only 0.79% of the victims used firearms to protect themselves. So, why argue that ownership is for self-defence when numbers prove otherwise?
There should be stricter gun laws because the existing ones endanger the right to life of other human beings. If everyone argues based on the constitution, then people’s constitutional right to life should also be brought into the argument. By having laws that do not protect this right, the government is failing its citizens. Every individual has a right to security and life and it is the government’s duty to see to it that any dangers to this rights that can be prevented are not allowed to occur (Blocher, 7). How can the government therefore assure its citizens of safety citing anti-terrorism trainings and spending when it cannot protect them from internal threats which are easier to control? (Jacobs, 3). Individualizing gun ownership stifles the people’s right to free speech. The challenge posed by guns to people’s freedom and consequently, their liberty, is monumental. Liberty is the backbone of any strong democracy. Guns make this impossible since they limit people from expressing themselves due to caution over behaviour that may be viewed as threatening by gun owning individuals (Blocher, 7). When arguing with someone who has a gun and they wield it to one’s face, they are communicating the end of the discussion and trying to argue otherwise may result in unwanted repercussions. Free speech and liberty can safely exist only when people are assured that nonviolent methods will meet their arguments (Jacobs, 7).
Gun control in Japan
In japan, the weapons law starts by pointing out that no single individual is allowed to own or wield a sword, or a firearm (Kopel, 15). Exceptions to the law are minimal and people are only allowed to have firearms- usually a shotgun- after extensive application and a procedure for licensing that takes long. When allowed, the firearms are only for use in hunting. By controlling guns and their ownership, japan has had few gun related deaths. In 2008, the number of gun deaths reported in Japan was eleven compared to the 12,000 deaths reported in U.S.A. the framework to gun approach in Japan is the exact opposite of the approach in America (Masters, 3). In Japan, the laws starts by forbidding gun ownership while in America, the law enshrines ownership. The results of the differences are stark. In a nation with a 128 million population, only two gun deaths were reported in Japan in 2006 (Masters, 3). Japan based its laws on the protection of the public’s safety and everyone can see the results. America needs to borrow a leaf from this nation and change its laws. The argument for self-defence can be overcome by giving police officers more power. It can be viewed as a violation of individual liberty in America but then, it is a necessary sacrifice that has to be done to uphold the sanctity of the human life. Making the trade-off between ensuring the safety of the public and maintaining individual liberty is not an easy task but a worthy one.
Gun control in Australia
Australia is a nation that did not allow the problem of guns to manifest to an almost uncontrollable point. After the 28th April 1996 mass shooting that claimed 35 lives and wounded 23 others in Tasmania, Australia moved to nip the matter in the bud before it become more problematic (Chapman et.al, 367). The nation banned private owning of guns and moved to carry out a mandatory buy back of guns which saw half a million guns being returned to the state. In Australia, the law requires individuals to get a firearm license. While applying for said license, the applicant is required to demonstrate a reason for wanting a gun that is genuine. The law states that self-defence should not be cited as a reason (Chapman, 3). Those given the license have their firearm’s serial number recorded against the license to prevent cases of people obtaining guns for other people. The results of these laws are that in ten years, the number of gun suicides reduced in more than half the number. In 1995, the nation had 389 gun suicides while in 2005, there were 147 gun suicides (Chapman, 3).
In conclusion, all everyone wants is safety for them and theirs and lenient gun laws do not allow for this to happen. It is a shame that what can be termed as a significant step toward gun control occurred in 1993 when the Brady Handgun Prevention Act was passed. The difference in years since then and now should act as a wake-up call to raise up and add more voices to this unique course. The benefits of having strict rules should be looked at by policy makers and used as arguments for gun control laws: reduced unnecessary loss of lives that leads to a reduced work force thus consequently harming the nation. Activists should also reach out to people’s humanity and preach the importance of gun laws in helping preserve the sanctity of the human life. Also of importance is the need to remember that the second amendment protects people’s right to have guns. It however does not state that there should be guns in every home as has been passed by some states such as Georgia.
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