There is a problem with weapon development and use in the modern world. There is also a debate whether arm race contributes to the violence in the world. Some scholars, politicians and military representatives agree that the mere presence of weapon can increase violence and aggression in the world; however, there are contradicting opinions that state weapons serve as a calming device. Thus, guns can be seen as instruments of destruction or protection.
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From a psychosocial perspective, it is beneficial to understand that guns may not influence the aggressive behavior of those who use them, whereby, there is a possibility that guns can increase the aggressive nature of a human being. This paper will show that guns themselves do not increase aggression in people simply because weapons are in their presence.
Gun possession is not a cause of aggression in humans because several people across the world own guns and have never injured or killed anyone using a gun. If guns were the cause of aggression, consequently, most developed nations like the United States of America would have totally banned gun possession among the civilians.
Guns alone do not kill people instead people kill other people. Current statistics indicate that homicide is no longer the top cause of mortality in America (Webster, Doob, & Zimring, 2006). Although, some researches show that there is a correlation between gun possession and crime, this correction is not strong enough to be regarded as causal. The rationale in this argument is based on the understanding that guns alone do not cause death, and there are people who possess guns who do not kill other human beings.
Aggression in human beings is caused by physical, hereditary and emotional factor (Anderson & Bushman, 2002). Several studies have shown that aggression is triggered by thoughts that are conspicuous in the brain. These thoughts then make people act senselessly leading to adverse effect such as death.
People who experience irrational thoughts in their mind may cause harm to other people, and if they are in possession of a gun, they may be aggravated to kill, but not all people result to killing. This is an indication that the presence of a gun is not a cause of aggression rather a tool that aggravates aggression in some people. Most researches have highlighted hereditary and environmental factors, poor child rearing and exposure to hostility, economic and social aspects and the media as the cause of aggression.
Heredity and Environment Factor
Several researches done on infancy conduct disorder have shown that maternal and paternal genetics influence the behavior of the children. These researches concluded that offspring of belligerent parents are more prone to developing behavior disorders, as opposed to offspring of social parents, even if the children were nurtured in an adoptive household. This conclusion suggests that genetic is a cause of violence (Anderson & Bushman, 2002).
On the other hand, there are children who are raised in nurturing homes but turn out to be violent. In view of this, a child raised in a violent household does not necessarily become violent. Similarly, the risk of a child developing behavioral disorder is higher among these offspring if they are reared in a hostile domestic condition, signifying that ecological aspects also predispose a child to violent conduct.
Different aspects of childrearing may add to violent conduct in children. Some of the childrearing imperfections that cause aggression in children include poor guardianship, unreliable and punitive punishment methods, parental conflict and partial parent participation in the kid’s life (Anderson & Bushman, 2002). In view of this, guns do not lead to aggression rather, parents who show these activities engage in a parent-child relations pattern that involuntarily inspire and reward violence in their offspring.
Community and Economic Aspects
A diversity of societal and financial aspects can create environments that lead to aggression among children. These aspects may comprise traumatic family conditions such as a single parent childcare, divorce or separation of mother and father, maternal or paternal joblessness, poverty and acute deprivation (Anderson & Bushman, 2002).
However, this does not mean that a child who is exposed to these conditions automatically becomes violent, because mixes of factors lead to aggression. This point opposes the argument that gun possession is a cause of aggression.
Several researchers have found a negative link between violence shown in media and real-life violence. The results of a study done by Carnagey, Anderson, and Bushman 2007, revealed diminished psychological sensitivity to violence among participants who viewed violence on television, an indication that exposure to guns or violence does not automatically lead to aggression.
Guns in Learning Institutions
Gun possession at schools has become a norm, and in many cases, it is explained, not by the personal behavior of students, but by the surrounding school environment (Wilcox, & Clayton, 2001). Much investigation has been performed in this sphere; yet, a common opinion has not been reached.
The discussion has been divided into two points of view. Weapons are the supportive factor for aggression and violence, and weapon possession does not affect this aspect of human behavior. Adachi and Willoughby (2011) stated that weapons do not influence human aggression as video games do.
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Video games are aimed at increasing competition, and in case a person loses the game several times, the feelings of aggression and the desire to act violently affect human behavior. Still, this opinion is more likely to be personal without being supported with the opposing facts.
The fear-and-victimization hypothesis by Wilcox, May, and Roberts (2006) has shown that the primary purpose of students’ gun carrying is the fear of aggression and violence at school. Therefore, the weapon is used for protection. As a result, students are not afraid, and it negatively affects their consideration of the surrounding world and danger perception. Thus, students are more presupposed to appear in the risky situations when they are to act more aggressively as would in case of weapon absence.
Nagtegaal, Rassin, and Muris (2009) have conducted a research based on human opinion that those who work in the military sphere are more aggressive than people who do not vocation in the military. The research has shown that those who use guns are less aggressive than those who do not use guns.
Additionally, Myers, McGrady, Marrow, and Mueller (1997) have shown that adolescents themselves consider gun possession as the protection necessity dictated by the environment rather than by the desire for aggressive behavior.
The analysis of 2,000 accidents with the purpose to understand the relation between gun possession and the ability to conduct a crime shows that the gun possession does not influence profoundly the desire to conduct an act of crime. However, the opposite effect is observed when people are intended to conduct a crime and in this case, they search for a gun (Wells, & Horney, 2002).
I categorically disagree with the opinion that gun possession affects human behavior and makes those who use guns more aggressive. This point of view may be easily contradicted if to consider the discussed research from the critical point of view. Most of the data used to conduct researches on gun possession and aggression is often based on the points of view presented by the public.
Thus, the previously mentioned research by Nagtegaal, Rassin, and Muris (2009) shows that there is nothing in common between shooters and aggression. Therefore, it may be easily concluded that people in most cases base their opinion on their prejudice, and researchers try to present this information as the research results.
Moreover, video games as the reasons for aggression may be considered only when violent games are played. When people possess guns, they aim at protect themselves and it is in most cases the prejudiced opinion that those who carry guns are aggressive.
Further literature review of previous researches is needed to show that aggression is aroused by the particular situations and actions and is not the cause of gun possession. It is essential to substantiate the public opinion for comparison and contrast purposes.
Further research should be based on the discussion of the criminal cases with the use of the weapon and the personal analysis of those who committed crimes.
Their personal characteristics are important, along with their friends and relatives reflections. Other factors that should be considered include the time the gun was bought and the time of the crime. In addition, conditions should be considered, and the reasons for the crime to confirm that all the pieces for drawing conclusions are gathered. The cases should be randomly chosen.
Adachi, P. C., & Willoughby, T. (2011). The effect of video game competition and violence on aggressive behavior: Which characteristic has the greatest influence? Psychology of Violence, 1(4), 259-274.
Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2002). Human Aggression. Annual Review of Psychology, 53, 27-51.
Carnagey, N. L., Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2007). The effect of video game violence on physiological desensitization to real-life violence. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 43(3), 489-496.
Myers, G. P. McGrady, G. A., Marrow, C., & Mueller, C. W. (1997). Weapon carrying among Black adolescents: A social network perspective. American Journal of Public Health, 87(6), 1038-1040.
Nagtegaal, M., Rassin, E., & Muris, P. M. (2009). Do members of shooting association display higher levels of aggression? Psychology, Crime & Law, 15(4), 313-325.
Webster, C. M., Doob, A. N., & Zimring, F. E. (2006). Proposition 8 and Crime Rates in California: The Case of the Disappearing Deterrent. Criminology & Public Policy, 5(3), 417-448.
Wells, W, &Horney, J. (2002). Weapon effects and individual intent to do harm: Influences on the escalation of violence. Criminology, 40(2), 265-296.
Wilcox, P., & Clayton, R. R. (2001). A multilevel analysis of school-based weapon possession. Justice Quarterly, 18(3), 509-539.
Wilcox, P., May, D. C., Roberts, S. D. (2006). Student weapon possession and the “Fear and Victimization Hypothesis”: Unraveling the temporal order. Justice Quarterly, 23(4), 502-529.