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Some Americans are inclined to accentuate their freedom provided in the democratic society with references to different aspects of the social life and legal policies. The possibility to have handguns to use them for protecting the property or life is also discussed in the context of stating the human rights and freedoms. However, the problem is in the fact that the real consequences of having handguns are in providing the threats for the other people but not in protecting themselves.
Gun assaults are typical for the American society, and they emphasize the controversial character of the question associated with appropriateness of providing the public with the open access to handguns. Today, many sociologists and politicians insist on developing the restricting laws for guns’ ownership or on the absolute control of the process.
Guns should be controlled or restricted in the country with references to the legal policies and laws because guns’ ownership is directly connected with the high rate of homicides in the USA, the availability of handguns affects the increase of suicide rates, provokes the growth of the children’s violence and intimate partner violence, and affects the increase of the violent attacks, using guns.
Homicides and Strict Gun Control
It is impossible not to pay attention to the fact that the rate of homicides in the USA is rather high. The problem is in fact that the causes of the phenomenon are not only in increasing the atmosphere of violence in the society but also in the availability of the methods to realize the violent intentions. From this point, gun ownership can be discussed as one of the most provocative aspects associated with the criminal situation in the country.
According to Stell, “gun assaults are 5-7 times more likely to result in death than non-guns assaults … 70% of American homicides are committed with guns”, and moreover, “other countries with assault rates similar to America’s but with lower gun prevalence and with a commensurately lower percentage of homicide committed with guns enjoy homicide rates 50%+ lower than America” (Stell 38). It is possible to speak about the direct correlation between the availability of handguns and their usage as the means to kill the other person.
The fact that 70% of homicides in the country are committed with guns can have the inverse dependence, and it is possible to affect the rate of homicides with controlling the access to handguns and their usage. Thus, Stell states that “reducing the percentage of homicides committed with guns is the key to reducing America’s homicide rate” (Stell 39).
That is why, the only way to reduce the rate of homicides is the provision of the restricted laws and policies to control the usage of handguns by the population. From this point, “carefully-crafted, well-enforced firearms control policies can contribute to marginal reductions in criminal violence” (Stell 38).
Thus, the rate of homicides depends on the fact of the spread gun ownership among the US population, and to affect the negative tendencies in increasing the rate of homicides, it is necessary to focus on the restricted laws with the help of which it is possible to control who uses the gun and for what purposes. The following figure demonstrates the correlation between the number of victims and the weapon used to murder. Thus, handguns are used more often than any other type of weapon in the USA.
Figure 1: Homicide by Weapon Type, 1976-2000 (Stell 43).
Dependence of the Suicide Rate on the Gun Ownership
The rate of suicides in the USA is also based on the fact of availability of handguns, and the problem can be solved with references to the gun control policies and laws. Stell claims that “more than 30,000 Americans commit suicide each year, putting suicide in the top ten causes of death. Guns’ “market share” in suicide is 50% – not as large as their market share in homicide…but the body count is nearly twice as high” (Stell 39).
It is rather difficult to determine from this perspective it is necessary to refer to the problem of committing suicide, and there is the question whether it is possible to control the rate of suicides with the help of restrictions in relation to gun ownership.
However, the correlation between gun ownership and committing suicides with the help of handguns exists, and people should pay attention to this fact. Thus, it is possible to expect that, restricting the gun ownership, the governors will contribute to the decrease of the suicide rate in the USA.
Suicides can be discussed as the reflections of the social situation in the country, but the suicides committed with using the handguns are also the reflections of the inappropriate laws operating in the country which allow people the minimally controlled access to the firearms.
Children’s Violent Actions and the Usage of Handguns
The next negative consequence associated with the lack of control in the sphere of regulating the access to handguns is the interdependence between having guns and expressing violence. It is necessary to pay attention to the fact that, realizing the availability of handguns and being affected by the violence in the media, children are inclined to perceive the violent actions as the ordinary situation in the real life.
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There are many ways to explain the actions of the children who shoot their classmates and teachers, and the lack of the strict gun control is discussed among the causes for the tragic events. Thus, in their research, Lawrence and Birkland discuss the causes and consequences of the tragic situation at Columbine High School in 1999. The researchers state, “in April 1999, two students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado shot and killed 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves” (Lawrence and Birkland 1193).
There were a lot of decisions made, and much attention was paid to the influence of the pop culture on children, to the availability of handguns, and to the necessity to develop school programs and security measures (Lawrence and Birkland 1196). The event shocked the public and made the society and politicians concentrate on the problem of gun control and the necessity of the restricted laws which should be stricter than the current regulations.
Strict gun control is the policy which is actively discussed by the politicians who take the opposite positions and cannot choose between the necessity to provide the public with the access to handguns as the way to protect themselves and the necessity to provide the strict laws and policies to control the usage of handguns in the society. To resolve the salutation and accentuate the necessity of control and restrictions, the tragic event at Columbine High School in Littleton was used as a trigger to intensify the discussions.
According to Lawrence and Birkland, when the tragic event opens a window of “opportunity for policy making, policy entrepreneurs can easily link a preexisting policy idea with a ‘‘new’’ problem”, and the situation at school in Littleton just provided such a possibility for the supporters of the restrictions to develop discussions and hope for adopting the necessary changes in laws (Lawrence and Birkland 1201).
Shootings at schools are the controversial events which make the public rethink the approaches to handgun policies. Nevertheless, the active reactions of the public subside, but the problem remains to be unsolved. Nevertheless, it is necessary to provide the strict gun control and restrict the usage of handguns to guarantee the secure environment for children.
Homicides and Violence at Home
The public’s violence is the problem of the American society, and it is also correlated with such an issue as the domestic violence. Children suffer from the violent actions of their classmates at school, and many persons suffer from the violent actions of their partners at home. The question becomes more controversial when its discussion is supported by the evidences and statistics related to the rate of the homicides performed with the help of handguns.
Thus, Vittes and Sorenson state that intimate partner violence results in 1500 deaths in the country and intimate partner assaults “involving a firearm are 12 times more likely to result in death than those involving other weapons or bodily force”, and moreover, firearms “are the most common weapon in intimate partner homicides” (Vittes and Sorenson 828).
The problem can be discussed from the perspective that, understanding the availability of handguns, people are inclined to forget about the limited situations when it is possible to use the handgun legally.
All the problematic situations, conflicts, and discussions cannot result in using handguns as the main argument in the negotiation process. Vittes and Sorenson accentuate the positive impact of restrictions on the considerations of people about the possibility to have and use handguns.
Thus, those persons who are under some restraining order are not inclined to buy handguns because they are prohibited to have such an opportunity, “they may have been aware that they were legally prohibited from doing so; the prohibition is clearly stated on the restraining order itself” (Vittes and Sorenson 830).
This example can be discussed as the evidence to support the statement that definite restrictions and laws can become effective methods to change the situation in the society and prevent the active usage of handguns. Today, a lot of people are at risk to experience the threat of being killed with a handgun because of the lack of restricted laws. The US population should be disarmed, and only specific groups of people (e.g. police officers, military officers, and private security guards) should be allowed to carry licensed guns.
The Opposite Opinion
However, there is also an opinion that restricted laws and policies cannot be discussed as the effective means to control the rate of homicides and suicides in the country, and it is important to pay attention to the other social causes of the problem instead of developing the strict gun control policies.
Thus, Kates and Mauser state that “if the mantra “more guns equal more death and fewer guns equal less death” were true, broad based cross-national comparisons should show that nations with higher gun ownership per capita consistently have more death” (Kates and Mauser 661).
The researchers focus on the example of the Continental European nations and claim that the homicide rates in these countries are not dependent on the fact of the gun ownership that is why it is impossible to accentuate the parallels between the gun ownership policies and rates of homicides and suicides (Kates and Mauser 661).
Thus, the authors pay attention to the fact that the controlled gun ownership as the ultimate solution to diminish the guns’ misuse remains a debatable issue. Moreover, the absence of the access to handguns cannot be discussed as the effective measure to prevent criminals from committing violent crimes.
Nevertheless, it is necessary to look at the problem from the other perspective. The lack of the government’s actions to restrict the gun ownership and provide the definite control can contribute to the increase of the homicides’ rates in the future. The absence of the actions toward the problem’s resolving affects the situation in the society negatively.
It is important to guarantee that the persons at risk are in the list of those ones banned from holding the licensed guns. The problem is in the fact that carrying a gun does not necessarily mean that a person will use it for self protection only as it is initially intended by the licensors or the gun owner.
Moreover, losing control due to the circumstantial confrontations, persons may use their handguns to kill the others because of the impossibility to resist the emotions. Violent attacks are causes for many homicides with the help of handguns among children and the family members.
The situation can be resolved only with references to implementing the definite laws that is why the gun control can be realized successfully only at the government level. The United States government can impose controls on gun manufacturers and licensing organizations, indicating the procedures to be followed when providing guns to the public. Controlling guns policies mean that only definite people are able to have the access and own a handgun.
Definite restricted policies and strict gun control are necessary for the US society to regulate the problematic situation and make all possible to prevent the rate of homicides and suicides committed using handguns. Controlling gun ownership policies also mean that only police officers, members of the armed forces, private security guards, and the limited number of the other people can receive the ability to possess handguns legally.
It is important to use the complex procedure in order to determine the persons’ suitability to possess weapons because of the risks of such a decision. Thus, the absence of the necessary control is the first step to increasing the rate of homicides because of the violent attacks. Furthermore, it is important to focus on the correlation between the gun ownership and rates of suicides.
Moreover, the tragic events involving children at school are also the results of the extended availability of handguns. Thus, the gun ownership is among those reasons which are discussed in relation to the US homicide and suicide rates. In order to reduce the probable causes of such deaths, it is necessary to develop and implement the policies and laws which control or restrict the gun ownership in the USA.
Kates, Don, and Gary Mauser. “Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide? A Review of International and Domestic Evidence”. Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy 30.2 (2007): 649-694. Print.
Lawrence, Regina, and Thomas Birkland. “Guns, Hollywood, and School Safety: Defining the School-Shooting Problem Across Public Arenas”. Social Science Quarterly 85.5 (2004): 1193-1207. Print.
Stell, Lance. “The Production of Criminal Violence in America: Is Strict Gun Control the Solution?” Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 32.1 (2004): 38-46. Print.
Vittes, Katherine, and Susan Sorenson. “Keeping Guns Out of the Hands of Abusers: Handgun Purchases and Restraining Orders”. American Journal of Public Health 98.5 (2008): 828-831. Print.