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While the Founding Fathers of this country were developing the system of government, as set forth in the Constitution, many feared that a standing army controlled by a strong central government would leave them helpless. The federal Constitution contained no provisions to prohibit a standing army or allow states to create their own militias. The Constitution was signed by thirty-nine men from the twelve states represented at the Constitutional Convention on September 17 1787; three delegates refused to sign because of the absence of a bill of rights. Two years later, the First Congress agreed on twelve proposed amendments to the Constitution. During this time, debate focused on a standing army versus a state militia and citizens' rights, and even obligations, to carry arms. Before addressing arms and the militia in the Bill of Rights, however, two militia clauses were included in the U.S. Constitution. The militia clauses say that Congress shall have power to provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions; to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.
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In the past people were raised by conservative parents. It is only natural for people to have the right to own a firearm. It has been a tradition in this country since the constitution was written. Americans have the right to defend themselves. Liberals basically want to outlaw handguns or restrict the sale of weapons that can easily be concealed. Thousands of citizens die accidentally from firearms every year. Firearms are the most deadly instruments of attack. State constitutions of forty-three states guarantee citizens the right to use weapons in self-defense. Most states with this law believe that every citizen has the right to bear arms in defense of himself or the state. A study by the National Safety Council shows that accidental death by firearms is near the bottom of the scale among causes of accidental death. Accidental deaths involving firearms has decreased from three thousand in 1967 to eighteen hundred in 1986, and is still decreasing (Gottlieb 16).
Gun control would not really reduce the rate of violent crime. Firearms kill Sixty percent of all murder victims in the United States. Firearms injure another seventy thousand per year. Medicare paid out 14 billion dollars last year for injuries involving firearms (Lindermann 1). Professor Donald B. Kates said that a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin said, "Gun-control laws have no individual or collective effect in reducing the rate of violent crime. The study considered economic, demographic, and racial variables. Congressman Bill Goodling says that the willful criminal is the real cause of most violent crime, not the gun (Gottlieb 18).
If a handgun ban were issued, there would have to be citizens that would comply with such a law. In robberies and assaults, victims are far more likely to die when the perpetrator is armed with a gun than when he or she has another weapon or is unarmed (Gottlieb 22). Handguns are the most popular weapons used in robberies and assaults, because they are so easily concealed. Their own gun shoots Sixty-five percent of homeowners, who own guns that are robbed. If a handgun ban were issued, there is evidence that citizen would not comply with the law. A report to the governor of Massachusetts's states that a minimum of one hundred thousand people would defy the handgun ban in that state alone. Another reason a handgun ban would not work is because homemade zip guns made from pipes and wood, are produced by the hundreds every day (Goldstein 94).
Strict gun control does not reduce homicide rates. In 1993 there were eighty-five thousand offenses involving guns. Current gun control laws have reduced homicide by eighteen percent. Seventy-five percent of homicides involving guns have been under the age of twenty-four. Areas that want stricter gun laws will not reduce their homicide rate. Twenty percent of homicides have occurred in only four cities, New York City, Washington D.C., Detroit, and Chicago. All these cities have the toughest gun control laws in the country (Gottlieb 44).
There should not be stricter gun control laws. Even though, since 1968, more than three hundred thousand Americans have been murdered by guns. Today, only cars cause more fatal injury. Recently, the average number of people killed by a handgun per year is twenty-four thousand. The U.S. Congress and state legislatures have debated restrictions on gun ownership for some time. Efforts to fight crime are best served by focusing on the criminal element and not with gun control legislation. Criminals should know that when they break the law there will be swift apprehension, prosecution, and punishment. Research is beginning to prove laws do not reduce the amount of violent crime in our society. Gun laws have only succeeded in disarming the law-abiding and making the criminal's work environment safer (Unfocused 1). Executive Director of the National Rifle Association Neal Knox told the subcommittee on criminal law of the United States Senate, "Gun laws fail because they do not address the issue. The Issue is not possession of firearms, but misuse of firearms. We cannot expect criminals to abide by gun laws when they have already shown a disregard for law and order by their criminal activity. The only people ever affected by gun laws are peaceful, law-abiding citizen, who never abuse their firearm right (Gottleib 104)."
Congressman Owens of New York says guns in America are a major problem and that people are demanding stricter gun control laws (Kleck 34). This is one of the largest myths of gun control. When polls are presented in Congress they can be slanted by carefully worded questions to achieve any desired outcome. It is a fact that most people do not know what laws currently exist; therefore it is meaningless to assume that people favor stricter laws when they do not know how strict the laws are in the first place. In 1993, Luntz Weber Research and Strategic Services found that only nine percent of the American people believe gun control to be the most important thing that could be done to reduce crime. By a margin of three to one people who responded said mandatory prison would reduce crime more than gun control. A more direct measure of the public's attitude on gun control comes when the electorate has a chance to speak on the issue. Public opinion polls do not form public policy, but individual actions by hundreds of thousands of citizens do. In 1993, the Southern Police Benevolent Association conducted a scientific poll of its members. Sixty-five percent of the respondents identified gun control as the least effective method of combating violent crime. One percent identified guns as a cause of violent crime (Kruschke 14).
Another widespread belief is that firearm ownership causes increased violence. Areas with high firearm ownership suffer less violence than demographically comparable areas with lower ownership. Studies have found that high crime rates have stimulated purchasing of guns rather than high gun ownership stimulating crime. Less than two percent of owned handguns are ever misused. Despite fears that homicide would greatly increase, the adoption by over half the states of laws under which police must issue law-abiding, responsible applicants licenses to carry concealed handguns has not been accompanied by increased homicide (Kleck 38). The National Institute of Justice funded at the Social and Demographic Research Institute a comprehensive analysis of the role of firearms in violence. To their surprise, the researchers' review of the entire corpus of criminological literature yielded the following summary: There appear to be no strong causal connections between private gun ownership and the crime rate…It is commonly hypothesized that much criminal violence, especially homicide, occurs simply because the means of lethal violence are readily at hand, and thus, that much homicide would not occur were firearms generally less available (Wright 10). There is no persuasive evidence that supports this view. Gun laws fail because they do not address the issue. The issue is not possession of firearms, but the misuse of firearms. We cannot expect criminals to abide by gun laws, when they have already shown a disregard to law and order by their criminal activity. The only people ever affected by gun laws are peaceful, law-abiding citizens, who never abuse their firearm rights (Wright 12).
In general, gun control advocates appear to be reflecting the mood of the American public (Bijlefeld 2). In survey after survey, respondents strongly support governmental attempts to ban gun ownership or at least limit it. Congressman Jack R. Kingston of Georgia wants these people to take a careful look at Jamaica in 1974. In 1974, Jamaica enacted very strict gun control laws, which include house-to-house searches randomly, secret trials, detention, incommunicado, mandatory life sentences for possession of a single bullet, very strict gun control laws. Within six months violent crime dropped significantly. Within a year, it went back up to the level it was before the gun control laws, and in fact it has been increasing ever since (Bijlefeld 95). What is most important is that one-third of the murders in Jamaica were perpetrated by the police. Kinston wants gun control advocates to think in terms of the second amendment people who are saying, "You have to worry about the government, not just the burglar." "Why is it that police can have guns, but you and I and the average American citizen cannot?" says Kingston (Bijlefeld 96).
Congressmen James M. Collins asked a committee of gun control advocates why they think stricter gun control laws or even banning private ownership would decrease crime (Kuschke 17). No answer they gave satisfied his question. His response to a barrage of incoherent answers made a major impact on their view on proposing new gun control legislation. To avoid leaving the conference in one piece, he proposed legislation designed to reduce crimes committed with weapons by instituting mandatory, strict sentences for any person convicted of using a gun during the commission of a crime and prohibit the granting of a suspended sentence or a probationary sentence for any Federal felony committed with a firearm. He proceeded to explain how gun control laws could actually increase crime (Kruschke 20). Aside from the obvious, criminals who already have broken the law would not abide by a new one by showing a disregard for others. He told them how gun control laws would only result in a large criminal network of illegal firearm sales, thereby denying guns to all but criminals and even making criminals out of law-abiding citizens. He explained that Americans must maintain the right to own guns for the defense of their families, homes, property and for sporting purposes. Without this right, our country would be a virtual police state with arbitrary control tights vested in the government (Kruschke 21).
It has been proven by studies and polls that gun control does not reduce violent crime and in some cases it can increase. It is also a violation of the United States Constitution. If the Government is allowed to control the sale of weapons to the ordinary law-abiding citizen, then what will stop it from violating other aspects of the constitution?
Bijlefeld, Marjolijn. The Gun Control Debate: A Documentary History. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1997.
Goldstein, Steven. A Case for Gun Control. New York: The H.W. Wilson Co. 1994.
Gottlieb, Alan. The Rights of Gun Owners. Bellevue, Washington: Merril Press, 1991.
Kleck, Gary. The Great American Gun Debate. San Francisco, California: Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, 1997.
Kruschke, Earl R. Gun Control. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 1995.
Lindermann, Kennith. "Issue In Focus: Gun Control." Chicago Tribune. (21 April 1992): 1.
"Unfocused public lets gun control foes fire at will" Chicago Tribune. (15 May 1993): 1.
Wright, Stuart A. Violent Crime. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1995.