Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Gun Control

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Gun Control

In a country riddled with apprehension of violent crime, the United States continues to embody the gun as integral to its’ protection and culture. While the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution grants the people the right to bear arms, the people must on the contrary protect themselves from those who bear them. In my view, guns give people a false sense of security and are more of a nuisance than a benefit. Guns are a threat to the peace and safety of society. Therefore, since it is unlikely that all guns will disappear in the United States, legislation must be enacted to ban and cease the further manufacture of the types of firearms involved in more violent crime than all others; handguns and assault-weapons.

Through the evolution of time, man has sought ways in which to facilitate hunting and warfare. Implements such as slings, spears, bow and arrows, etc., were effective in early history but all made obsolete by the gun. The irony today is that guns are often used to hunt for human lives rather than for gaming purposes and warfare is upon the United States itself, in the form gun violence. Since the founding of the United States, up until the early twentieth century, little attention was focused on gun control despite president Lincoln’s assassination and gun violence of the Wild West.

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The first real effort to control firearms came one year after Prohibition was repealed. According to Collier’s Encyclopedia, “ The National Firearms Act of 14 enacted in response to the gangsterism of the prohibition era was the first major gun control law passed by congress. It imposed taxes on the sale or transfer of certain firearms; such as machine guns, sawed-off rifles, and shotguns; required manufactures to put serial numbers of such weapons by the owner; and required sellers of such firearms to be licensed (C14). The 14 Firearms Act led to the decline of machine guns such as the “Tommy Gun” and other typical gangster weapons, but did not contain any provisions that covered the sale of handguns and did not prohibit anybody from purchasing a gun. The Federal Firearms Act of 18 made another important advance for gun control. According to Collier’s, “it provided for the licensing of all firearms manufactures, importers, and dealers required dealers to keep records of their transactions and prohibited the sale of any firearm to a convicted felon or to a fugitive from justice” (C14). Since the 18 Federal Firearms Act was established, it was still fairly easy to acquire a gun because dealers were not forced to investigate a purchasers’ eligibility. The assassinations of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert Kennedy in 168 became the driving force for new congressional action. According to U.S. News, “The Firearms Act of 168 placed restrictions on the interstate traffic in firearms and tightened eligibility requirements; persons under 18 years of age, drug addicts, and those who had been patients in a mental institution were among those legally barred from purchasing a gun.

I believe that in order for gun control legislation to work, it needs to be uniformly abided by every state in the U.S. Currently; there are some states that have strict gun control laws while others do not. If an individual is able to purchase a firearm in a state with lax gun control laws, it defeats the purpose of controlling firearms in other states. A potential criminal can easily purchase a gun in a state that has soft gun laws and commit a crime with it in any state regardless of the law. The impact of any gun legislation though will only be limited. Laws cannot stop violent crime and homicides from occurring. No Washington D.C. gun legislation prevented a gunman from attempting to murder President Ronald Reagan or the recent sniper attack that killed 10 people across five states. Guns need to be out of the hands people who are known to be a threat to society. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Muhammad bought the rifle when he was under a restraining order for domestic violence in his divorce case”(Fineman sat6,000 0).

How can we allow innocent lives to continually be sacrificed in the name of freedom? Children should have the freedom to play outdoors without having to worry about stray bullets killing them. These days, there are places in most urban cities where people will shoot you for looking at them the wrong way, wearing the wrong color, over one dollar, or mistaken identity. I attribute the high rate of violent crime in the inner cities to values that have broken down from prior generations. I believe that future generations tend to follow the same negative behavior and morals of their parents. Most often children live in single parent homes and are therefore more susceptible to becoming a menace to society.

The United States is currently more concerned with international terrorism even though we are daily being terrorized here. In many inner city neighborhoods we have violent gang/drug wars that affects the innocent as well as those involved. Los Angeles is a prime example of such problems. According to the Slater, “one of the most violent years in recent Los Angeles history. During the 10’s homicides in Los Angeles peaked at 10 in 1 and fell to a decade low of 41 in 18” (Slater thur nov 1 00 latimes A1 ) The government’s way of dealing with gun violence is to impose longer jail sentences, but that is not the solution. The availability of guns, jobs, poverty, lack of opportunities, parental guidance, and education is what needs to be focused on in order make any positive changes.

Having grown up in Los Angeles as a teenager during the turbulent years of the late 80’s - early 0’s I personally have been afflicted by gun violence indirectly and directly. From 18 to 17 I have lost thirteen close friends to senseless gun violence. I have been shot at twice for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. On another occasion I was walking home one evening from my girlfriend’s house and along the way I was approached by two men who pointed a gun at my head because they were out to avenge a death of their friend. Luckily I was not the person they were looking for, so I was permitted to walk away with my life. Apart from my friends who have been killed by firearms I know yet more friends, family and acquaintances that have been paralyzed, maimed, or wounded by gunfire. At times I feel as if I am incarcerated, even though I am a free citizen. I am apprehensive every time I leave my house because I figure if so many innocent children (who should be the safest of all) are continually being killed, my life is at a greater peril.

The only real solution to ridding gun violence is to get rid of all the guns. Since that seems farfetched, we need to make guns less accessible by creating federal legislation, applying it uniformly throughout every state. Easy gun accessibility is the reason why there are so many homicides because it is easier to pull a trigger than by attacking with a knife or other foreign object. I feel that handguns and assault weapons should be outlawed altogether because too many people misuse them. Desuka states, “For the most part, the victims of handguns know their assailants well. These victims are women killed by jealous husbands, or they are the women’s lovers; or they are drinking buddies who get into a violent argument; or they are innocent people who get shot by disgruntled (and probably demented) employees, or fellow workers who have (or imagine) a grudge. Or they are, as I’ve already said, bystanders at a robbery, killed by a storekeeper. Or they are children playing with their father’s gun” ( ) . It is a tragedy that the United States being the most highly advanced nation in all respects ranks number one in homicide deaths.

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