Can Gun Laws Save Lives?
The issue of gun control is of immense significance to the United States for a number of reasons. Firstly, America is the only country in the world with 300 million firearms in circulation, which implies that virtually every adult possesses a firearm. This fact cannot but evoke deep concerns about an increase in homicide rates. Secondly, the point is that the murder rate in the U.S. is fifteen times higher than that in other developed countries, which have implemented stricter laws regulating the private ownership of firearms. As Major Michael Bloomberg mentioned, “We are the only industrialized country that has this problem. The only one” (“In Other Countries, Laws are Strict and Work,” 2012). Therefore, it can be reasonably argued that tougher gun laws will help to decrease the homicide rate, since it will be very hard to get any kind of weapons.
To see how strict gun laws work, it is essential to consider practices of other countries. Australia is the brightest example. When a gunman shot thirty-five people in 1996, the government needed several weeks to ban shotguns and assault weapons, tighten licensing and finance buyback programs and gun amnesty. Since then, the homicide rate in Australia dropped by 59 %, and there were no gun massacres causing people deaths. Likewise, the British government imposed stricter gun laws after the school massacre in 1996, in Scotland. The authorities have banned all automatic weapons and almost all handguns, so that a person could not easily get even a hunting rifle. Further, in Japan, with its very tough laws, only eleven deaths were caused by firearms in 2008, whereas the same rate in the U.S. constituted 12,000 (“In Other Countries, Laws are Strict and Work,” 2012).
According to other data, tougher gun laws are necessary, since weak gun control greatly contributes to an increase in justifiable civilian homicides, especially if combined with “stand-your-ground-laws,” implemented in the U.S. in 2005. Since then, as the Guardian analysis proves, the homicide rate has increased by 25%. What makes matters worse is that these measures encourage citizens to kill a potential enemy at once rather than try to escape or avoid threats first (Enten, 2012). It irreversibly leads to the fact that more people will carry guns in more places in order to defend themselves, which, in turn, cannot but cause a general increase in shootings. Besides, if more civilians carry firearms, it will be even easier for experienced criminals to steal weapons and kill people with their help.
Although the opponents of tough gun laws, including Sohn (2012), argue that the latter will not prevent offenders from committing homicides, since “criminals will find a way to access guns no matter what the rules are,” this argument seems rather week. Firstly, even if a criminal is an insane person and wants to steal a gun, he will simply have no way to do that, since ordinary citizens will not carry weapons, and it will be rather hard to steal them from a police officer or specialized shops. Secondly, the Sohn’s (2012) argument that “an armed citizen is one of the criminals’ biggest fears” does not necessarily imply that an offender will not shoot at an armed person. Thirdly, the belief of Sowell (2012) that “guns are not the problem but people – including people who are determined to push gun control laws” is false in essence: if there were no firearms, including other kind of weapons, there would be no murders.
To sum up, taking into consideration the above mentioned facts, it can be claimed that stricter gun laws are necessary to reduce the number of homicides. This conclusion is based on the real data proving that limited access to firearms or even the complete prohibition of weapons really works. The prevailing opinion that these are not guns but people, who are guilty of the overwhelming number of murders, seriously undermines the possibility of human survival. It is true that homicides are usually committed by violent or insane people, but violence cannot overcome violence. If more and more individuals possess firearms, homicide rates will swiftly go up. Moreover, easy access to weapons will only intensify the already existing tendency that people get accustomed to murders and approve them as a means of self-defence. They become completely incapable of solving problems without weapons, and this phenomenon cannot but disturb. “The wild west” system of defence and justice is unacceptable in the twenty-first century, if humanity wants to survive, and it is high time for every nation and country to acknowledge this.
Enten, H. (2012). 25% rise in homicides linked to weak gun control laws: Analysis. The Raw Story. Retrieved from http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/04/06/25-rise-in-homocides-linked-to-weak-gun-control-laws/
In other countries, laws are strict and work. (2012). The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/18/opinion/the-gun-challenge-strict-laws-work.html?_r=0
Sowell, T. (2012). The great gun control fallacy. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/18/great-gun-control-fallacy-thomas-sowell