Argumentative Essay: Gun Control Does Not Reduce Crime


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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-

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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 weapons.

 

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 crime. 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, the people who would only use firearms for legal

purposes. 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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