America – land of the free, home of the brave and protector of Constitutional rights. The great nation of opportunity, where dreams and guns are both within reach, boasts higher levels of gun ownership than other developed countries. Independent research has shown that for every 100 people in America, there are 88.9 firearms, or around 270 million guns.
Here are three arguments for gun control and three more for gun ownership.
Arguments for Gun Control
Why does it matter that America has the highest total and per-capita figure in the world? Because decades’ worth of data indicate that guns and homicide go together like Halloween candy and cavities. More guns equal more homicides. True, guns alone don’t kill people. But where there are guns, the potential for homicide – and suicide – is statistically larger.
A bucket-load of research suggests that just a tad of gun control would keep Americans safer. It may even prevent future mass public shootings and death. How? First, let’s get a few things straight:
Gun control laws don’t diminish the Second Amendment.
Gun control proponents aren’t interested in taking away citizens’ guns. They cheer the Second Amendment, which states: “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.” They support the Supreme Court 2008 decision, which validates the interpretation of the amendment that protects an individual’s right to own a firearm unrelated to serving in a militia, and to use that arm for lawful purposes, such as self-defense within one’s home.
But this same Supreme Court decision also emphasizes that, in former Justice Antonin Scalia’s words: The Second Amendment is “not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for any purpose whatsoever.”
Gun restrictions prevent selling to the wrong hands.
If anything, they strive to make the world safer by limiting the wrong kinds of guns from getting into the wrong hands. This leads to fewer deaths. Universal background checks on private and gun show sales can help prevent criminals and the mentally ill from getting guns. Research asserts that federal checks could cut gun deaths by an estimated 56.9%. And let’s not forget about mandatory safety features. Installing safety devices on guns would minimize accidental gun deaths, especially of and by children. Think about it, we have child-proof caps on medicine bottles. So why not child-proof firearms?
Such laws help prevent selling the wrong guns.
High-capacity magazines enable a shooter to fire multiple times without reloading, turning murderers into mass murderers. An investigation into mass shootings found that high-capacity magazines were used in at least 50% of the 62 mass shootings that were analyzed. No, banning the purchase of such magazines or assault weapons won’t prevent gun crime from happening, but it will greatly reduce the carnage.
Arguments for Gun Ownership
There are tens of millions of American gun owners who just want to live their lives in the safest way possible. They’re not militant but impassioned by understandable and justified reasons for owning guns. Here are just a few:
An enhanced sense of safety.
Law enforcement agencies are constantly and unquestionably doing a heckuva job. Still, the police can’t always protect everyone everywhere all of the time. So firearms significantly contribute to gun owners’ sense of – and actual – safety. In a 1982-83 study, almost 2000 imprisoned felons in 10 states were surveyed about whether gun control prevented crime. More than half (57%) said that most criminals feared armed citizens more than the police. Additionally, 40% said they were deterred from carrying out their crime when they thought their potential victim was armed. It’s no surprise then that 57% of people feel that possessing a gun prevents them from being victimized.
Exercises civil liberties.
Gun ownership exercises a fundamental individual right under the U.S. Constitution. For most upstanding citizens, owning a gun is as important to them as maintaining freedom of speech, the press, and religion, among others. No wonder gun owners rightly take it personally when gun control laws infringe on their right to bear arms, thus impeding efforts to acquire firearms and protect themselves and their families. Plus, there’s the risk that certain proposed background checks may require government databases to keep gun owners’ personal information indefinitely. This could lead to future database searches unrelated to the information when it was first collected. Talk about an unfair invasion of privacy!
Unintended consequences of ineffective gun restrictions.
When the law meant to protect you is, instead, turning you into prey, it’s understandable to take self-defense into your own hands. In Chicago, where there are bans on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines and where gun shops were banned until 2012, gun control laws are not proving effective. Though the city has some of the toughest gun restrictions in place, it suffers from rising gun and gang violence. Chicago is just one example of many cities where law-abiding citizens are paying the price – with their lives – of ineffective gun control laws.
The bottom line(s): On the one hand, gun control laws keep people safer. And isn’t self-preservation why gun owners have guns to begin with? On the other hand, law-abiding gun owners have the Constitutional right to protect themselves against crime and should not be penalized for the action of others. Where do you stand?