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It is always puzzling to see a person released from prison repeat the crime for which he/she was convicted, or any other for that matter. Whether prison for such a person is paradise or not, is the big question whose answer is emphasized here.
Many argue that prisons are not stringent enough, but availability of the means of which these offenders commit the crimes; firearms, is a factor one cannot downplay. Others argue that crime has to do with psychology and the approach to this issue has to be from a psychological point of view.
Moreover, others still suggest genetic makeup of an individual has a role to play. Nevertheless, the degree to which each factor contributes to the whole issue is paramount; hence, the medium by which most of these crimes are committed is a critical issue.
The readily available firearms, which are easily accessible to both first time and repeat offenders arguably, constitute the biggest factor in the prevalence of crime. Lack of good gun control policies increases the prevalence of firearms. As will be illustrated, the rate of gun-related crimes involving repeat offenders and gun control regulations are closely related. Is it then possible to curb repeat offenders by enforcing strict gun control legislations?
Repeat Offenders and Crime
The current statistics in crime give shocking revelations. A tremendously high percentage of crimes are committed by a very small percentage of criminals. In fact, repeat offenders commit up to 90 percent of all crimes. It is a common trend that, over 60 percent of persons released from prison are re-arrested for serious crimes within a period of three years.
The justice system seems to defend the criminal and neglect the victim. Would it not be better for the system to keep a repeat offender off the streets, rather than allowing such an individual back into the society to repeat the same crimes? With a conviction rate of over 95 percent, one then begs the question why they go back to their crimes.
More shocking is the fact that some commit felonies while on probation. This indicates presence of some factors, which encourages such an occurrence. Of all crimes committed in 2008, 67 percent were committed using firearms. Therefore, the concept of their control is of great importance if the government is serious in combating crime.
In 2005 alone, around ten thousand people died of gun related violence with over four hundred and fifty thousand falling victims of crimes of similar nature. Most homicides, where guns are used, are related to arguments and other family issues.
Quite a high number is not preplanned, an indication that a person with poor anger management is more like to commit a crime, whether or not that individual has done it before, provided a gun is within reach. Moreover, homicide is not the only crime ‘easy’ to commit with a firearm; rapes, robberies and assault are more tempting for repeat offenders as long as one is armed.
Politics in states with high crime rates surround the issue of gun control, creating a perception that stricter regulations increase the rates. Nevertheless, Lester and Murrell argue that, “states with stricter handgun laws in 1968 were shown to have lower suicide rates by firearms both in 1960 and 1970” (131).
Gun control needs to be enforced comprehensively if it is going to be of any impact in mitigating crime. This would require an approach from all perspectives. The minimum age at which an individual can posses and own a gun should be specified. In addition, legislations on storage conditions are necessarily to minimize access of firearms to children.
A considerable number of repeat offenders are juveniles and such a step would be helpful. The manner in which the guns are sold is another critical aspect in their regulation. The owners need to be licensed after the issuance of firearms with the period before obtaining them extended. It would even be better if the licenses were to be renewed after a certain period, not long, after the owners profile for the period of possession strictly scrutinized.
This would force gun owners to adhere to such regulations, as it would be mandatory to be responsible in maintaining a firearm. Making records available would make it possible to restrict persons with criminal history from accessing firearms. Over 50 percent of firearms used in gun-related crimes are obtained from friends or family, a clear indication of how unsafe the guns are in the custody of those who legally own them.
This however, would not entirely be the solution since criminals can still access firearms from the black market. The idea is to block all the avenues through which guns can reach the wrong hands, strict regulations being just one of them. Safety training prior to any firearm purchase for the buyer will also come in handy. This would lower the risk of the guns getting on the wrong hands. Specifying who gets what kind of firearm is also vital.
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Whether or not gun control would lower crime rates, especially with repeat offenders, is out of question. School shootings need not to escalate any further for all to see the essence of gun control. It is clear that the prevalence of firearms in the society is directly proportional to the crime rates at any given instance.
It would cost less to enforce gun control regulations than to constantly convict repeat offenders and withstanding the worst of their crimes. However, gun control may not be the ultimate solution to reduce gun-related crime, neglecting other factors would obscure its benefits.
Lester, David, and Murrell Mary. “The Preventive Effect of Strict Gun Control Laws on Suicide and Homicide.” Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior 12.3 (1986): 131-40. Print.