Gun Control Debate
The debate about gun control in the United States continues to gather momentum each day even as cases of fatal shootings continue to be reported across the country. Many people who are opposed to gun ownership in the country cite these incidences as good reasons to regulate or have at least some control over those who own a gun and when one is legally allowed to own a firearm. On the other hand, those who are for firearms argue that this is a constitutional right for all Americans stipulated in the Bill of Rights. The recent incident in Connecticut where dozens of school children were fatally shot by an assailant thought to have psychological problems fuelled more debates by anti-gun groups on the need to have regulation and control the way firearms are used in the country. Nevertheless, there seems to be little progress even as these groups face setbacks in the Congress over the control of firearms in the country. Some of the members of the Congress are openly opposed to control arguing that gun ownership as contemplated in the constitution is a matter of self-defense or defense of others who are attacked by criminals. Yet, records indicate that guns owned by citizens were used not with the purpose of self-defense but that of a criminal offense in a large number of cases, like the case in Connecticut. In this paper, it is argued that debate over gun control in the United States will continue until and unless the amendment is done on the constitutional clause that establishes gun ownership in the country.
Despite the fact that the right to own a gun is contained in the Constitutional Bill of Rights, not all people in the United States own a firearm. Some of the opponents of firearm ownership ignore the right to own a gun on the grounds of principles that define their course. According to Agresti (1), only 30-34 % of adult Americans with rights to own a gun have guns in their possession. The reason why some people do not have guns is because the Bill of Rights provides some limits to who should own a gun. For instance, people who are convicted or under indictment for felony misdemeanor, unlawful user of controlled substances, mentally ill persons, among many other groups have no rights to own a gun. Yet these safety nets for gun ownership have failed to control the way people access and use firearms in the country. The spiraling cases of criminal activities in the country stem from the fact that the law allows some people to own a gun and deprives others of this right. However, it is easier for those who are prohibited to breach the law and acquire a gun. Furthermore, it is not clear what happens when a person who is previously allowed to own a gun suddenly develops mental problems and goes on a rampage like the case in Connecticut in the recent past. Statistics indicate that 30-40 % of criminals who are serving jail terms in the United States for federal and state offenses carried firearms while committing crimes. This is in contrast with the number of law-abiding citizens who used the firearm for self-defense or while defending others under criminal attack during the same period that was reviewed. This is an indication that the noble idea of owning a firearm has been taken over by criminals who find more use for the gun than law-abiding citizens. In essence, gun ownership is more beneficial to criminals than to law obedient people whose intentions are good for the society (Agresti 2).
The debate surrounding gun control is founded on constitutional and statistical principles. Proponents of guns cite the Bill of Rights as the basis on which every American must be allowed to own a gun without State or Federal controls. On their part, the opponents argue that gun ownership is counterproductive to the country given a high number of victims who are fatally shot by criminals including school children. This is all done in the name of having the right to own a gun. As a reaction to the proposed amendments to gun ownership, there has been an escalation in the cases of people being shot by criminals (Webster et al. 10). The Congress, on its part, continues to procrastinate the much awaited changes to the Bill of Rights to control who owns a gun and provide stiffer penalties for those who illegally possess firearms. Whether gun ownership should be controlled is an issue that will take massive efforts from the anti-gun groups to come to reality given the high volumes of information generated from the debate. However, the essence of gun ownership as contemplated in the Bill of Rights is for the purposes of self-defense in order to prevent crimes. Yet, statistics indicate that guns in the hands of civilians continue to cause more harm to the country than good. The Government is also spending a lot of money keeping criminals in correctional centers thus doubling the cost of uncontrolled gun ownership in the country (Andres & Hempstead 98).
It is thus evident that gun control debate is a controversial issue that will not be finished any time soon. In the meantime, innocent people will continuously suffer because of the actions of criminals even as different factions continue to support their stance on the ownership of guns in the country. As it stands now, it is important for policy-makers in the country, including the Congress, to come to terms which can help avert the continued loss of lives of innocent people in the hands of gun-wielding criminals who abuse the right of gun ownership as spelt out in the Bill of Rights. As the debate continues, it is important that the opposing factions approach it from a sensible perspective with a view of promoting safe environment for all people living in the country as much as they would also not want to curtail constitutional rights as were conceived by the framers of the Constitutional provision which give a foundation of gun ownership in the country.
Agresti, James, Gun Control Facts, Web. September, 2010. <http://justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp>.
Andres, Antonio Rodr?guez, & Katherine Hempstead. “Gun Control and Suicide: The Impact of State Firearm Regulations in the United States, 1995–2004”, Health Policy, 101.1, (2011): 95-103. Print.
Webster, DW., Vernick, JS., Vittes, KA., McGinty, EE, Teret, SP, & Frattaroli, S. “The Case for Gun Policy Reforms in America”. Jonh Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, 2-19, 2012. Print.