Many of us have encountered a bumper sticker stating, “Better Gun Control Means Using Both Hands.” If only gun control could be realistically summed up in such a simple statement. The question of whether or not the United States needs stronger gun control laws has been a heated issue for years as criminals use guns to carry out crimes, and children kill each other both purposely and accidentally. Gun violence is not an issue to be taken lightly, as innocent people are dying. While both sides to this debate agree that something must be done to eliminate gun-related deaths, they have very different ideas on how we should go about it. Most proposed laws will do nothing to keep guns out of reach of criminals and children, and will increase the confidence of criminals; therefore, stronger gun control laws are not the answer.
Some supporters of heftier gun control laws support the creation of a new gun-regulating government agency. They believe this agency should have the power to ban “certain” firearms deemed unnecessary for protection and any firearm that would be a danger to the public. This would give them the power to declare virtually all firearms unnecessary and dangerous. After all, it could be reasonably argued that any gun is a possible danger to the public, and a pitchfork is all that one needs for self defense. By creating a new government agency we would, once again, be expanding an already overgrown government. This agency would decide for us what we have the right to do and what we don’t. We may continue having the right to bear arms, but making gun ownership extremely difficult erodes away the very purpose of that right. This would be one step of many in a crusade to disarm the American public.
As if a new government agency isn’t enough, some supporters of stringent gun laws propose an increased retail sales tax on firearms and ammunition. They argue that there are “…external costs imposed on society by gun availability” (Hemenway). This includes medical treatment costs resulting from gun-related injuries, and licensing costs. Paying for gun-related injuries after the fact will not reduce gun crime or deaths. We need preventative action, not additional revenue directed toward the government. Besides, firearm licensing is already paid for by gun dealers and citizens who purchase permits from the federal government and/or state government. Finally, if we only increase the sales tax on guns and ammunition, we are leaving out knives, automobiles and matches, which have all proven deadly in the hands of both criminals and children. An additional sales tax is just another way to punish U.S. citizens for possessing firearms.
Access to other deadly weapons aside, proposed gun control laws will not keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and children. Criminals are criminals because they break laws, and more gun control laws won’t force them into compliance. They will obtain guns if they are determined. The war on drugs has been unable to thwart the trafficking of dangerous drugs and guns would be no different. Don B. Kates, criminologist, lawyer and professor, sums it up saying, “…criminals will neither obey gun bans nor refrain rom [sic] turning other deadly instruments to their nefarious purposes.” Also, children will continue their fascination with firearms as long as they are exposed to violent movies and video games. Mentally disturbed and bullied youths will search for ways to release their frustration, as long as we turn our backs on them. We have to ask ourselves, “Why are school shootings so popular only recently, when guns have been available for well over 100 years?” These problems are complex and simple “Band-Aid®” laws would be ineffective at best.
Another important matter to consider is that restricting firearm possession among citizens through tougher gun control laws increases the confidence of criminals. By restricting gun ownership, criminals recognize that their victims are less likely to possess the means to fight back. These crooks are more inclined to commit crimes, because there is less personal risk to themselves. Law-abiding citizens’ hands are gradually being roped tighter. For example, in today’s society burglars are breaking into homes and suing homeowners when they get injured. What’s repulsive is the fact that they are winning these cases. Our legal system is giving criminals the green light and then patting them on the back for a job well done. Law-abiding civilians must have greater rights than criminals in order to prevail. College professor, Steve Pudlo, states, “If he [the criminal] perceives that any target has an equal likelihood to oppose, resist or even damage him, then he would be far more likely to abandon that method of livelihood.” To illustrate, one study asked convicted felons what they feared the most while they were committing a crime, and the number one response was their fear of a victim producing a firearm. When we chip away the rights of lawfully-armed citizens, we give criminals the confidence to perpetrate their profession.
Given that many proposed gun control laws are riddled with wording designed to progressively pry guns from the hands of U.S. citizens, we should not impose stronger gun control laws. If we want to lessen gun crime, we can start by giving violent criminals a permanent address at the penitentiary. If we want our children to remain safer in society, we must take their developmental and emotional needs more seriously. Our culture is ultimately responsible for the escalation in violence – we are repeatedly reaping what we have sown.
Hemenway, David. "America Needs Stronger Gun Control Laws." Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center X3010140252(2007) 03 March 2007 .
Kates, Don. "Banning Handguns Does Not Reduce Crime." Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center X3010015209(2007) 03 March 2007 .
Pudlo, Steve. "America Does Not Need Stronger Gun Control Laws." Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center X3010140253(2007) 03 March 2007 .