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Banning of the Guns
School shootings in the United States have shocked everyone the world over. In the unfortunate event that a school shooting erupts, students as well as school personnel within the vicinity of the school stand helpless. They either have to wait for the police agencies to respond quickly or in a worst case scenario wait for the shooter to end his or her streak of insanity. One such incident happened at a school in Newton Connecticut. Sandy Hook Elementary School became the scene of a tragic incident which resulted in the death of 20 school children and 6 adults in less than 20 minutes (Velez). The shooter was identified as Adam Lanza, 20 years of age and was armed with two guns as well as an assault rifle. January 10, 2013, a teenager aged 16 years entered a school possessing a shotgun fatally shot a student and seriously injuring another student. This happened in Taft within the state of California.
The fact that children and teenagers have easy access to both light and heavy weapons shows that the contemporary American society is currently faced with a rather grave problem. As much as violence related to guns affects most of the American society, school shootings are conscience disturbing and worse even cause fear among those in the education system more so in parents, guardians, students and the staff employed in these institutions (Velez). School shootings have shown that random killing of many innocent people both the young and the old by very young shooters has to be critically analyzed so as to recommend ways in which these incidences can be prevented beforehand. A public outcry has been the response to such incidences calling for tighter restrictions on assault weapons as well as guns (Velez).
The shocking shooting at the Sandy Hook school prompted President Obama to call for the reestablishment of the national ban on guns and assault weapons. However the American people are divided on this matter with about 49% calling for the need to protect their right to possess guns whereas 46% feel that there is the need to further control ownership of guns (Velez). It is important to understand the fact that the American population feels that there is a profound need to have some form of limits with regard to gun ownership. This essay seeks to illustrate why so many Americans are against a total ban on firearms and further champion for better gun control policies.
Banning guns does not solve the issue of crime
The state of Washington DC banned gun ownership in 1976, effectively making it illegal for anyone to possess whatever type of gun. The law passed required people not to leave guns at home unlocked. Unfortunately, Washington DC is regarded to as murder center of the United States. The City of New York has also had very tight gun control legislations dating as far back as 1911(Kopel and Wollstein). Apparently, New York is still ranked as having one of the highest gun related crimes in the United States. As such, a federal ban on guns cannot solve incidences such as that witnessed in the Sandy Hook school due to the simple fact that loophole in the current legislation are exploited by unscrupulous persons allowing for criminals to access guns in the American street in a matter of minutes (Kopel and Wollstein).
America is renowned for its precision machines. It also has over 12000 miles of coastline and boarders which cannot be continuously monitored on account of the resources required enabling such patrols. It is a well-known fact that a competent mechanic with the right precision tools can construct rifle assembly parts in a short period of time and actually have a working automatic assault rifle. This is illegal but an accepted state of events in the American society. The Bureau for Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms conducted a study that supported the fact that 20% of seized guns in the state of Washington, DC were actually home-made firearms (Kopel and Wollstein). Criminals in America will thus always be in a position to opt to smuggle in firearms, steal, buy or make them in their own backyards effectively defeating the need for a bun on guns.
Guns for self defense
In the unfortunate event that a criminal chooses to terrorize you at your place of residence it is folly to assume that one can have the patience composure to wait for police assistance to reach in time. That is assuming that you as a victim will have the composure and opportunity to dial 911 for police assistance. It is estimated that in ten minutes a criminal will have had the time needed to rape, murder, rob or cause bodily harm that can cripple you permanently. This implies that a federal ban on firearms can be viewed as a means with which to disarm and leave law abiding citizens vulnerable and defenseless (Kopel and Wollstein).
Los Angeles, California witnessed a shocking turn of events during the Rodney King riots back in 1992. During these riots, the LA police opted to abandon most of the neighborhoods experiencing social unrest and violence. Television stations broadcast live pictures of these events which brought to light how innocent civilians can be vulnerable to criminal activities. Criminals were seen torching businesses and homes, looting shops, forcing motorists from their cars and in some cases killing them (Kopel and Wollstein). What protected some neighborhoods from extreme and wanton destruction was the fact that some community members had the ability to cordon streets through the use of firearms thus effectively protecting families, homes and business establishments. It is estimated that thousands of American citizens use guns defensively to protect their property, families and homes from criminal threats. A study by Florida state university criminology expert revealed that by 1994, Americans use guns for self-defense two and a half million times annually.
Guns: an American tradition
A few European countries have been able to enforce gun control policies among their citizens. It is argued that redirecting a similar degree of success in within the American context would be next to impossible. Traditions dating back to the American’s fight for independence and the ardent need for self-defense capabilities outweigh peaceful gun disarmament of the over 80 million firearm owners all over the expansive country (Kopel and Wollstein). The American way of life is such that when offered the option of whether to abide by the law or to bear the ability to effectively defend property, family and personal life, an overwhelming majority of Americans would wholeheartedly break the law. At the moment many American are already breaking the law by possessing unregistered firearms.
The available literature material provides statistics showing that almost 99% of citizen in Boston and Denver have not complied with legislation requiring that all semi-automatic weapons to be duly registered (Kopel and Wollstein). In New York alone, notwithstanding its attempt to implement stringent gun control policy and legislation, it is estimated that over three million firearms are unregistered. It is therefore not feasible to even contemplate a federal ban on firearms in America. The commissioner of prisons for the state of New York contends that in the event that the state was able to successfully prosecute only 1% of the illegal firearm owners the prison system would breakdown as it would not be able to accommodate such high numbers of convicted felons (Kopel and Wollstein).
An appropriate gun control measure
President Obama has mobilized state resources to rigorously control increasing cases of random shooting and violent crime through a number of newly proposed firearm control initiatives. Obama for America a precursor to the Organization for Action (OFA) has been active in trying to mobilize human capital as well as financial resources to get officials from all parts of the nation to support the President’s proposed gun laws (Basile). Through the use of social media networks as well as a myriad of other tactics at the grass root levels the team seeks to urge government officials and legislators to support the proposed gun laws.
Politics aside, the core reasons behind the continued increase of gun violence are apparently being sidelined. When it comes to issues concerning gun control, politician will opt for solutions that are easier as opposed to policies that are effective. It is important to recognize the fact that the upsurge in gun related violence is essentially not due to the ineffectiveness of gun control measures (Basile). The real issue arising is that America has been experiencing a rather tenacious economic crisis. This has been brought about by an unfavorable business environment as well as a culture of dependency which has troubled the inner cities in American states for generations now (Dunham and David).
Apparently the government and its bureaucratic institutions do not look into the statistics of gun violence in the perspective that ensures that root causes need to be addressed conclusively (Wodarz and Natalia). It is a well-known fact that economic inequalities create a negative atmosphere which results in negative change to a number of human behaviors. Cases of domestic violence, divorce and crime and more so gun crime increase in times when a country’s economy is in recession (Basile). A trend that has gone on for a number of decades in the American urban population has been attributed to policies that have resulted in most of the minority communities utterly dependent on state programs. Substandard housing, rising cost of basic commodities, failing school programs and neighborhoods where gainful employment opportunities are not forthcoming have led to increases in crime more so to increases in loss of life (www.nraila.org.).
Recent reports show that gun violence cannot be solely attributed to mentally challenged individuals as the media so often suggests. The prevalence of gun violence and increased cases of mentally unstable individuals has both been linked within the socio-economic conditions affecting communities (Basile). As such the available literature suggests that there has been a continuous and rather consistent trend closely associating gun violence with key indicators of socio-economic disparities. These include rising poverty levels, low income, failing education systems, social class and racial profiling. These are more prevalent in center cities such as Los Angeles and New York where heavy concentrations of socioeconomic disparities are increasingly being experienced (Basile).
The close correlation witnessed between rising cases of unemployment and gun violence at the micro level of cosmopolitan cities should be addressed through political will rather than from retrogressive gun control measures (Basile). Politicians should be at the forefront in accepting that poor socio-economic conditions will in most cases compel otherwise good people to engage in criminal activities further eroding the moral fiber of the community at large (Basile). This situation is not only being witnessed in America but it is also being felt in the Muslim world where socio-economic conditions deny the youth economic freedom as well as personal freedom. Such young people are easily coerced into joining terror groups at the detriment of peace in the world.
Rather than proposing laws to curb gun violence, it would be better if the government could redirect state resources and human capital to alleviating the culture of hopelessness which begets violence. This culture has continued for quite some time in the American context and time and more so resources will have to be incorporated. This can essentially be eliminated through an education system which will ensure the devolution of power away from the capital city, Washington and essentially inculcate basic skills as well as offer training to children towards enhancing competitiveness in the market through innovations and talent growth. Incidences such as those witnessed in Sandy Hook Elementary School can only be fully addressed through the improvement of socio-economic status of the population. Disarming Americans is not the way forward as loopholes will always exist thus will only strain the already stressed financial position of the American economy with no effective policy in place.
Basile,Thomas J. “The Best Gun Control Measure Is Always A Job.” (2013) Accessed from http://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbasile/2013/02/27/the-best-gun-control-measure-is-always-a-job/
Dunham, Will and Brunnstrom, David. “Gun groups: Push to ban assault weapons will fail.” (2013)Accessed from http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/13/us-usa-guns-congress-idUSBRE90C0DK20130113
Kopel, David and Wollstein Jarret B.” Will You Be Safer If Guns Are Banned?” (1995) Accessed from http://www.isil.org/resources/lit/guns-safer.html
Velez, Mark A. “Guns, Violence, and Schools: Policies to Prevent and Respond to School Shootings.” (2013). Accessed from http://works.bepress.com/mark_velez/1/
Wodarz, Dominik, and Natalia L. Komarova. “Calculating effective gun control policies.” arXiv preprint arXiv:1301.7332 (2013). Accessed from arxiv.org/pdf/1301.7332v3.pdf
www.nraila.org. “Stop Feinsteins’ gun ban.” (2012) Accessed from http://www.nraila.org/legislation/federal-legislation/2013/stop-the-gun-ban.aspx