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Gun Control Essay, Research Paper

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Failure of Gun Control Laws

Americans are faced with an ever-growing problem of violence.

Our streets have become a battleground where the elderly are

beaten for their social security checks, where terrified women are

viciously attacked and raped, where teen-age gangsters

shoot it out for a patch of turf to sell their illegal drugs, and

where innocent children are caught daily in the crossfire of drive-by

shootings. We cannot ignore the damage that these criminals are doing

to our society, and we must take actions to stop these

horrors. However, the effort by some misguided individuals to

eliminate the legal ownership of firearms does not address the

real problem at hand, and simply disarms the innocent law-abiding

citizens who are most in need of a form of self-defense.

To fully understand the reasons behind the gun control

efforts, we must look at the history of our country, and the role

firearms have played in it. The second amendment to the Constitution

of the United States makes firearm ownership legal in this country.

There were good reasons for this freedom, reasons which persist today.

Firearms in the new world were used initially for hunting, and

occasionally for self-defense. However, when the colonists felt that

the burden of British oppression was too much for them to bear, they

picked up their personal firearms and went to war. Standing against

the British armies, these rebels found themselves opposed by the

greatest military force in the world at that time. The 18th century

witnessed the height of the British Empire, but the rough band of

colonial freedom fighters discovered the power of the Minuteman, the

average American gun owner. These Minutemen, so named because they

would pick up their personal guns and jump to the defense of their

country on a minute’s notice, served a major part in winning the

American Revolution. The founding fathers of this country understood

that an armed populace was instrumental in fighting off oppression,

and they made the right to keep and bear arms a constitutionally

guaranteed right.

Over the years, some of the reasons for owning firearms have

changed. As our country grew into a strong nation, we expanded

westward, exploring the wilderness, and building new towns on the

frontier. Typically, these new towns were far away from the centers of

civilization, and the only law they had was dispensed by townsfolk

through the barrel of a gun. Crime existed, but could be minimized

when the townspeople fought back against the criminals. Eventually,

these organized townspeople developed police forces as their towns

grew in size. Fewer people carried their firearms on the street, but

the firearms were always there, ready to be used in self-defense.

It was after the Civil War that the first gun-control

advocates came into existence. These were southern leaders who were

afraid that the newly freed black slaves would assert their newfound

political rights, and these leaders wanted to make it easier to

oppress the free blacks. This oppression was accomplished by passing

laws making it illegal in many places for black people to own

firearms. With that effort, they assured themselves that the black

population would be subject to their control, and would not have the

ability to fight back. At the same time, the people who were most

intent on denying black people their basic rights walked around with

their firearms, making it impossible to resist their efforts. An

unarmed man stands little chance against an armed one, and these armed

men saw their plans work completely. It was a full century before the

civil rights activists of the 1960s were able to restore the

constitutional freedoms that blacks in this country were granted in

the 1860s.

Today’s gun control activists are a slightly different breed.

They claim that gun violence in this country has gotten to a point

where something must be done to stop it. They would like to see

criminals disarmed, and they want the random violence to stop. I agree

with their sentiments. However, they are going about it in the wrong

way. While claiming that they want to take guns out of the hands of

criminals, they work to pass legislation that would take the guns out

of the hands of law-abiding citizens instead. For this reason the

efforts at gun control do not address the real problem of crime.

The simple definition of a criminal is someone who does not

obey the law. The simple definition of a law-abiding citizen is

someone who does obey the law. Therefore, if we pass laws restricting

ownership of firearms, which category of people does it affect? The

simple answer is that gun control laws affect law-abiding citizens

only. By their very nature, the criminals will continue to violate

these new laws, they will continue to carry their firearms, and they

will find their efforts at crime much easier when they know that their

victims will be unarmed. The situation is similar to that of the

disarmed blacks a century ago. Innocent people are turned into victims

when new laws make it impossible for them to fight back. An unarmed

man stands little chance against an armed one.

An interesting recent development has been the backlash

against the gun-control advocates. In many states, including Florida

and Texas, citizens have stated that they want to preserve their right

to carry firearms for self-defense. Since the late 1980s, Florida has

been issuing concealed weapons permits to law-abiding citizens, and

these citizens have been carrying their firearms to defend themselves

from rampant crime. The result is that the incidence of violent crime

has actually dropped in contrast to the national average. Previously,

Florida had been leading the nation in this category, and the citizens

of that state have welcomed the change. Gun control advocates tried to

claim that there would be bloodshed in the streets when these citizens

were given the right to carry. They tried to claim that the cities of

Florida would become like Dodge City with shootouts on every street

corner. These gun control advocates were wrong. Over 200,000 concealed

carry permits have been issued so far, with only 36 of these permits

revoked for improper use of a firearm. This statistic is easy to

understand. It is the law-abiding citizens who are going through the

process of getting concealed carry permits so that they may legally

carry a firearm. The people who go through this legal process do not

want to break the law, and they do not intend to break the law. The

people who do intend to break the law will carry their guns whether or

not the law allows them to do so.

Criminals will always find ways to get guns. In this country

we have criminalized the use, possession, sale, and transportation of

many kinds of narcotics, but it’s still easy for someone to take a

ride and purchase the drugs of their choice at street corner vendors.

Firearms and ammunition would be just as easy for these black-market

entrepreneurs to deliver to their customers. Today, criminals often

carry illegal weapons, including sawed-off shotguns, machine guns, and

homemade zip-guns, clearly showing their disregard for the current

laws which make these items illegal. And when they are caught, the

courts regularly dismiss these lesser weapons charges when prosecuting

for the more serious charges that are being committed with the


The gun control advocates have argued their case by demonizing

the gun itself, rather than addressing the people who commit violent

crimes. This is the main fallacy in their argument. They slyly attempt

to claim that possession of a gun turns average citizens into

bloodthirsty lunatics. This theory falls apart under close scrutiny.

If legal possession of a firearm caused this sort of attitude, then

why are crime rates highest in areas such as Washington, D.C. and New

York City which have strict gun control laws? And why are crime rates

dropping in states such as Florida where private ownership of firearms

is encouraged? Simply stated, legal ownership of a gun does not cause


The most recent efforts of the gun control lobby has been to

claim that certain types of guns and ammunition are inherently evil.

They assign emotional catch phrases such as “assault weapons” and “cop

killer bullets” to broad categories of firearms and ammunition in the

hopes that people will believe that some guns have an evil nature.

Most people who are unfamiliar with firearms do not fully understand

what these phrases mean, and they accept the terms being used without

question. What people do not often understand is that the term

“assault weapon” has been defined to include all semi- automatic

rifles, and “cop killer” has been defined to include any bullet that

can penetrate type two body armor. It comes as a surprise to most

people that a large number of simple hunting rifles can do both. Does

ownership of one of these weapons cause people to become mass

murderers? It does not, and we must not fall into the trap of blaming

the sword for the hand that wields it.

So I’ve shown that the act of making it illegal to own

firearms does little to prevent criminals from getting guns. These

laws only restrict people who respect the law itself, the people who

would only use firearms for legal purposes anyway. And when we give

people the right to defend themselves, we find that criminals start

looking for other victims out of fear that they will become the

victims themselves. We must work to reduce crime in America, but we

should look at the problem realistically, and develop plans that would

be effective. It is obvious that gun control laws are neither

realistic, nor effective in reducing crime. Therefore, we must direct

our efforts toward controlling crime, not controlling legal ownership

of firearms.


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