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Like every other good ol' boy, I am concerned about being the victim of a random shooting, but at the same time, I want to be able to take down a nice10-point buck during hunting season. Guns effect every one of us every day. They fill us with fear or they make us feel protected. My point is this: guns are a problem, but using gun control to abolish them isn't necessarily the best solution. In gun control I mean laws that keep firearms off the street by preventing their purchase. I agree that some form of gun control is needed, butwhat we really need to concentrate on is gun licensing and more gun safety. I believe in my constitutional right to keep and bear arms, and I don't feel that legislators should be allowed to take away that right. Gun control can be a good thing, but if it leads to gun prohibition I will fight it until the day I die.
Our country was founded on the basis of guns. The wars were won with guns and the people were protected by guns. Guns were so important that they were placed in the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. Amendment II
From this amendment it is apparent that the founders of our country knew in 1791 that guns did and would continue to play a role in the lives of Americans. Things haven't really changed that much.
Gun control was brought into play to protect citizens from criminals and lunatics who shouldn't have guns in the first place. But only 27 percent of the criminals who are in prison for crimes involving guns have obtained them legally (Henderson 23). If criminals can find guns illegally now, how is more gun control going to stop them from getting them later? Groups against gun control,the most dominant being the NRA (National Rifle Association), are afraid gun control is the first step in outlawing guns.
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It is the average citizen, after all, who is going to go out and buy a firearm legally. When it comes to handguns, most are just looking for protection for themselves and their loved ones. Robert Dillon writes, "Yeah, I armed myself two years ago. Why? Because like a lot of other Angelenos, I was scared. My 26-year-old son was shot in his car on Crescent Heights, near Pico..." (Dillon53). People are frightened. If we don't allow guns, we are denying people their right to protect themselves and taking away their sense of security. They don't want to be killed due to lack of protection.
If one were to stop and think about it, the old saying that "guns don't kill people, people kill people" is truly valid. Groups for stricter gun control,such as Handgun Control Inc. (HCI), argue that guns do kill people. They think that it is the gun that makes people feel they are in the right and have the power to take someone's life and control a situation (Kriegel 818). In reality, one cannot place the blame on the gun. Guns aren't animate objects that can pick their victims. Guns require people to pull the trigger. For this reason it is my belief that the emphasis of gun control should be placed on teaching gun safety and keeping the criminals from getting their hands on firearms.
On the topic of ideal gun control, Karl Simon writes, "...the 'ideal' gun control program [is] one that does not pose serious barriers to the possession of handguns for legitimate purposes, but does effectively inhibit the use of handguns in crime by a method which has low cost to the criminal justice system and to society at large"(Simon, 17)
The Brady law, which was passed in February 1994, is a good step towards keeping guns out of the wrong hands. The law was named after Jim Brady who was shot and crippled during an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in1981. This law requires a background check on any person purchasing a handgun,which allows merchants to deny sales to convicted felons, drug or alcohol addicts, non-U.S. residents, and people who are mentally incompetent. The Brady law also requires a five day waiting period for the sale of handguns. This allows time for the background checks and a "cooling off" period for the customer. The"cooling off" period gives the gun buyer a chance to think about why they arepurchasing the gun, and quite possibly could prevent them from doing something rash (Davidson 193).
The Brady law is a good idea, but fails in a few ways. The most obvious problem is that there is not enough federal funding for the law. The cost of the computer systems and people required to run the checks runs into the hundreds of millions. In an article on the Brady law in Governing magazine, Andre Henderson reports, "Although $200 million is likely to be budgeted over the next four years to help states automate and update computer records, federal officials admit more will be needed" (Henderson 24). If the problem with funding is not solved the law will be inefficient and could possibly be overturned (Henderson 24). Another problem with the Brady bill is it only effects the people trying to purchase their guns legally. Nothing can be done about the criminals buying guns on the streets. In Los Angeles magazine, Daniel Foster writes, "I also considered the possibility that criminals, whose only waiting period consists of the 15 minutes it takes to score a $50 shotgun on Crenshaw, are indeed the greatest proponents of strict gun-control measures" (Foster 56).
More important than gun control is gun safety. People need to learn not only how, but also when to use a gun. Most of the people who go out and buy gunsdon't have proper training. This is dangerous for them and the people they come across. Too many people treat guns as toys rather than the killing machines they are. Gun owners need to learn that having a gun is a tremendous responsibility. If that responsibility is taken lightly, people could die.
One incident that comes to mind is the Collin Ferguson shootings. On a train to Long Island, Ferguson opened fire on innocent people. Laura Koss, who watched six people killed and seventeen injured by the gunfire states, "It strikes me as odd that a person has to take a test and get a license in order to drive a car,but doesn't have to do the same to buy a gun. Maybe if such enforcements were inplace, Collin Ferguson wouldn't have been able to buy his pistol." (Koss 12). It is strange that a firearm made specifically to kill requires no training while a car does. Every gun owner should take classes and be awarded a license to have their weapons. Some types of licensing are being used currently, but not to the extent they should be. For example, every hunter knows that come November they better have ahunting license or they're going to receive a serious fine. True this isn't a license on their guns, but it is a license that requires a hunting safety course or some previous knowledge of gun safety. There are also states like Florida and Arizona which allow concealed handguns to be carried on one's person, BUT they must have the appropriate license and training (Dillon 60).
Overall, gun control is a necessary idea to continue gun use in our country, but not as important as its advocates believe. True, gun control lessens the amount of guns on the streets, but it takes the guns out of the hands of responsible owners, not the criminals. Illegally purchased firearms can't be regulated and they are the guns that are doing most of the killing. By placing a block on legal purchases the government is denying the common citizen the ability to protect themselves. It seems such a shame that one would have to die because the government wouldn't allow them to have a gun. The emphasis of gun control should be placed on teaching gun safety to those who haven't already had any experience and licensing those wishing to use their firearms. By doing so, the government would be helping the average gun owner learn what his or her mistakes might be, and keep some of the deaths from occuring.