In his article, Kristof states that the improvement of governmental gun regulation methods can help reduce the rate of gun homicide in the United States. He provides an example of how stricter controls over car ownership helped to decrease the number of vehicle accidents since 1921 by 95% (Kristof). Although his idea may be valid to some extent, it seems that the comparison of guns with cars is slightly inappropriate because these two things have different functions and are associated with distinct types of behavior.
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Supica claims that, throughout the history, weapons, and guns, in particular, were used “to put food on the table, to provide personal protection, to enforce or defy the law, to defend or acquire territory and treasure, and to liberate or to enslave.” Weapons can indeed be used in recreational activities, such as hunting or competitions, but, primarily, they are warfare tools. The first guns were nothing but the advanced and more compact versions of cannons (Supica). This fact only proves that they were designed merely to achieve greater military efficiency.
Nowadays, plenty of gun types exist and it is possible to say that most of them are currently available to US civilians. Masters observes that “several gun advocates consider ownership a birthright and an essential part of America’s heritage.” However, as statistical numbers show when gun availability is high, the number of mass shootings is big as well. Only in 2015, there were 372 mass shootings across the country (“Guns in the US”). These statistics make the United States a global leader in gun violence.
Although Kristof considers that it would be inadequate to confiscate guns and prohibit people to bear them, it seems the right thing to do. In such countries as Israel, Canada, and Japan, the government controls gun violence by banning the ownership of some types of weapons, e.g., semiautomatic guns; introducing mandatory licensing and governmental registration, and requiring individuals to complete instruction and education courses before granting them arms (Masters). In Norway, for example, people who want to own a gun are also asked to give a “valid reason” for this (Masters). The annual gun homicide rates of 31.3 in Norway and 30.8 in Canada demonstrate that these measures can be effective.
The background check procedure is another important activity in the process of gun ownership granting. The Brady Act passed in 1993 requires federally licensed firearms dealers to carry out extensive buyers’ background checks before every purchase (“Background Check Procedures”). Nevertheless, although many people were denied having weapons since the time the rule was enacted, this procedure alone is likely unable to prevent all dangerous individuals from owning a gun.
It is possible to say that by developing stricter weapon ownership regulations, the United States will be able to decrease gun violence. Nevertheless, the evidence for a favorable outcome of such actions is insufficient. Moreover, what can be effective in European and Asian countries, may not necessarily be as efficient in America because of local attitudes to weapons. In the United States, public opinion regarding gun ownership is controversial − some people are against it, and others advocate for it. Although Kristof seems to be on the side of the latter, in the objection to his comparison of cars with weapons, it will be valid to notice that while automobiles were created to travel and reach distant places, firearms were designed to kill. One may use such words as “protection” and “self-defense” to mask the reality, but the truth is that the result of shooting a gun is always the same. Thus, it is possible to conclude that the complete prohibition of gun ownership is the best guarantee for the prevention of homicide.
“Background Check Procedures.” Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Web.
“Guns in the US: The Statistics Behind the Violence.” BBC News. 2016, Web.
Kristof, Nicholas. “Our Blind Spot About Guns.” The New York Times. 2014, Web.
Masters, Jonathan. “Gun Control Around the World: A Primer.” The Atlantic. 2016, Web.
Supica, Jim. “A Brief History of Firearms.” NRA Museums, Web.