The Gun-Control Debate

“I have a very strict gun control policy: if there’s a gun around, I want to be in control of it.”

— Clint Eastwood

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Gun control has a history dating back to 1791, when the Second Amendment of the Constitution was ratified. However, more recently, the debate over gun control has escalated into a much more public issue to which many citizens can relate. After all, stories about incidents involving guns appear frequently today in newspapers and on television or the radio. One could say that the debate started with the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968, which banned ownership of guns by certain groups of people and regulated the sale of guns. Since then, two main groups have gradually appeared: people who oppose strict federal regulations on guns, and people who favor those federal regulations.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution 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.?1 Because the militia? is composed of ordinary citizens that may take up arms when the country needs, all Americans should be constitutionally able to own a gun. This is one of the beliefs that proponents of gun ownership, including the National Rifle Association (NRA), hold. They feel that most people”excluding certain groups of people, such as criminals should be able to buy a gun with little trouble and without a waiting period. Also, they think that limiting gun ownership would restrict law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves from criminals and violent crime, and that people need to be able to protect themselves and their families. An article from the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action actually reports that in 2017, gun ownership was at an all-time high, while violent crime was approaching a 30-year low. Since 1991, the violent crime rate has decreased 38 percent.

Supporters of restricting gun ownership argue exactly the opposite; they feel that if more people were to have guns, there would be more violent crime incidents and more accidents involving guns, especially among children and teens. More people in the United States die in a gun-related occurrence than in any other country, and gun attacks are five times more likely to cause death than attacks involving a knife.3 Those people who want more restricting laws have good reason to do so, because they want to protect themselves and the people they know from harm. On both sides of this issue, people feel that their ideas are the ones that will keep them from harm. Unfortunately, their ideas differ so greatly (gun ownership versus no ownership) that the issue is hotly debated today.

Between very limited gun control and very restricted gun control, there must be some medium that can somewhat appease both sides. More laws can be constructed that ban individuals that have a criminal background, mentally unstable individuals, or minors from buying a gun. Already, a background check is required for all individuals who wish to buy a gun; this comes from the Brady Law, passed in 1994, which allows law enforcement officials to check the qualifications of the buyer. This way, law-abiding citizens can own a gun for hunting or for self-defense reasons, while criminals would have a nearly impossible chance of legally receiving a gun. Laws should also ban the sale of military-style and assault weapons, but still allow other guns, including pistols and handguns, to be sold. Assault weapons are easily abused because they are often automatic or semiautomatic, but pistols and handguns are normally used more responsibly when sold to the law-abiding citizens. Even though a majority of states give their citizens the right to carry a gun, guns are not tolerated in certain areas such as school grounds, so children are often protected in this way.

Although there are great differences of opinion between the two sides of the gun control debate, there are certain laws and regulations that can be made by taking a few ideas from each side. No particular side will be completely satisfied, but in a compromise each party must give a little. By making a law that compromises the ideas of each side, gun control can be regulated without being overwhelming to gun-owning citizens. Many people own guns and use them for important things, such as hunting for food or even self-defense. Taking guns away from gun owners could force them to change their lifestyles by varying degrees. In a debate as important as this one, it is necessary to develop an arrangement on which both sides can agree.

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