Public opinion on Gun Control

2585 Words11 Pages
Public Opinion on Gun Control
The twentieth century was a time of many political assassinations and violent shootings. A nation in shock mourned the deaths of President John Kennedy and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. At the end of the twentieth century the nation endured rising rates of violent crime, with young people frequently involved as victims and perpetrators and often armed with guns. Between July 1992, and June 30, 1999, there were 358 school-associated violent deaths in the United States, including 255 deaths of school- aged children, or about 51 such violent deaths each year. (Schmitt rot, 2003)
Time after time, public opinion polls have shown that crime and violence are among the most important concerns troubling Americans, if not the most important. But do these concerns translate to changes in public support for federal gun control measures? I will focus on public attitudes toward gun control over both the short and longer terms.

Some Americans are convinced that more federal regulation of firearms is necessary to reduce the number of murders that are committed with guns and to ensure a safer, more civilized society. Others who support private ownership of guns insist that the right to bear arms is guaranteed by longstanding custom and by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and that no cyclical increase in crime, no mass killing, nor any political murders should lead the nation to violate the Constitution and the individual rights it guarantees. What’s more, they say, knives and other instruments are used to kill people, and there is no talk of regulating or banning them.
The National Rifle Association generally believes that if more ordinary, law-abiding citizens carried weapons, criminals would not have a safe place to commit mass murders and other violent crimes.

Both supporters and opponents of gun control agree that some means should be found to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Not surprisingly, the two sides approach the issue differently. The two different strategies for gun control involve “deterrence” (discouraging by instilling fear) and “ interdiction” (legally forbidding the use of) Advocates of deterrence, most notably the Second Amendment Foundation and the NRA, recommend consistent enforcement of current laws and instituting tougher penalties to discourage individuals from using firearms in cr...

... middle of paper ...

...
8. Smith, Tom W : “ 2001 National Gun Policy Survey of the National Opinion Research Center: Research Findings, University of Chicago, Dec 2001. Primary source: National Gun Policy survey, 1996-1999 and 2001 and General Social Survey, 1996-2000.
9. Smith, Tom, W. Public opinion about Gun Policies. (Public Perspectives). The Future of Children, Summer-Fall 2002 v12 i2 p155(9)
10. Webster, D.W. Vernick, J.S.: “Support for new policies to regulate firearms.”New England Journal of Medicine(September 17, 1998) 339(12): 813-18
Web 1. : Sourcebook - Index, 1
... Attitudes toward gun control, by demographic characteristics, United States, 2001:http://www.albany.edu/sourcebook/1995/ind/PUBLIC_OPINION.Guns,_firear, accessed April 2004.
Web 2 “in a Relatively Issue-Less Election Year (So Far) Education and Health Care Top the List of Issues, Which People want the Government to address,” http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/ accessed april 2004
Web 3 “The Gun Control Enigma” http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll accessed April 2004.
Web 4 “Large Majority Continues to Favor Stricter Gun Controls” http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/ April 25 2001, accessed April 2004
Open Document