Crime and Violence inAmerica
In America questions of gun control have been evident. Beliefs vary
from no infringement on a person’s right to own and bear arms shall be
brought about, to other’s ideas that guns should be eliminated from the
population to reduce crime and violence. Recently, with many of the highly
publicized atrocities evident in our culture these points have been the two
major sides supporting the gun control debate. The simple fact is that the
invention of the gun provided a tool of progress, and has been influential
in our success as human beings. In the United States this fact was
understood and adopted by making right to ownership a law. Though crime and
violence does exist, gun controls in America are not a solution to the
problem. Gun control laws are wrong and will have a negative impact on
society and the successes observed over recent years.
Since the inception of gun powder a method, or a tool for, firing a
projectile through a barrel with great force soon followed. Early in its
evolution this tool was utilized by people to acquire tangibles by force.
This was counteracted by people using the same tool to defend their
property. Throughout history this pattern has not changed significantly.
Whether these actions are right or wrong does not matter, the gun is only a
tool applied for these purposes. Just like a hammer is used to build, it is
equally beneficial for demolition. Our country, well known as the world
leader, was won under these pretences. Though both sides needed, and used
guns, our past countrymen applied them in a more successful manner to
acquire our freedom.
The use of the gun was a key for early pioneers in America. Not only
did the gun provide for protection from wild animals, but it granted easy
access to food through hunting. For people on the move this tool was a
necessity for survival, both for protection and promotion of life.
The ability to hunt and protect has evolved into a sport. Just like a
bat and ball can showcase abilities of precision and athletics, the use of
a gun for sport exemplifies marksmanship and abilities to hunt and survive.
Many people in the United States understand this and have embraced it. “The
National Shooting Sports Foundation was established in 1961 to represent
the shooting sports industry. The Foundation recognizes that the shooting
sports industry has been supported by 18 to 20 million Americans who engage
in hunting” (Utter 222).
Throughout history the gun has proved to be an influential tool.
Whether for good or bad it has uses to promote progress. Guns, and their
use, in the United States are too widespread and cannot be removed or
excessively controlled. Any advance towards this will result in rebellious
activities similar to those exhibited during prohibition.
Our founding fathers had the forethought to understand the importance
of the gun. They realized its necessity for protection from tyranny. This
thought was realized through the constitution and ratified by the Second
Amendment of to Bill of Rights. “This amendment states in typically laconic
fashion, “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”” (Utter 268).
This amendment has been analyzed and interpreted many times to suit
many arguments. In most cases the word “Militia” is the basis for
difference in interpretations. Whatever definition has been accepted for
“Militia” is circumstantial. The Bill of Rights were not written to
guarantee rights for only certain situations, so it can be assumed the term
“Militia” was used to cover every basis that the word defines. For use in
these writings it would be best to take a literal look at its definition as
given by Blacks Law Dictionary: “Militia: The body of citizens in a state,
enrolled for a discipline as a military force, but not engaged in actual
service except in emergencies, as distinguished from regular troops or a
standing army” (“Militia.”).
This definition can clearly encompass any citizen willing to organize
oneself, or as a force, with motivation aside to serve alongside, or in
opposition to, a regular standing army. In a simple sense any person can
be, or be part of a militia.
It does not matter what definition, or interpretation, one decides to
believe. The Second Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights to provide
security and protections from opposition that may conflict with what our
founding fathers believed were inalienable rights. It can be questioned,
why put the freedom of gun ownership second after the freedom of religion?
Freedom of religion was a major reason for our revolution. The fact that
our past countrymen won the revolution, and utilized the gun as a tool, was
a testament to its importance. The use of the gun did not go unnoticed, and
it can be seen in its inclusion as the Second Bill to the ratification of
the constitution. The gun is a tool that provides equality for all people.
This ideal needs to be understood by the ignorant, as it accepted by
opponents of gun control laws. A prominent spokesperson in opposition to
gun control laws stated this ideal well. Charlton Heston, a one time actor
and now the president of The National Rifle Association voiced his opinion
of the Second Amendment to put it best. “Heston refers to the Second
Amendment as “America’s first freedom” because, he claims, it protects all
other freedoms contained in the bill of Rights: It is the first among
equals” (qtd. in Utter 137). This idea can be simplified and observed to
see how guns are used to promote progress through equality.
Unfortunately the gun can be used as a tool to facet crime and
violence. Levels of crime vary from country to country throughout the
world, and even from city to city in Ohio. It can be assumed that most
people would like to see these levels at zero, but the simple fact is that
crime and violence does exist, and always will exist, with or without the
use of guns.
In the United States crime and violence is a major focus of
attention. Understandably, it is well conceived to be a major problem. A
large part of the population believes that crime and violence is a result
of gun ownership in America. Others see it differently, hence a reason for
debate. It is obvious that America has an infatuation with the gun, and can
be observed by its exaggerated use in our movies and television shows. Is
the gun the cause of crime and violence, or is it the easiest thing to
blame? “The passion guns evoke strongly suggests that the debate is at
least as much about the symbolic meanings we attach to them as it is about
guns themselves” (Dizard 1). The argument that guns result in crime and
violence is weak, and adopted by the population who watch too many movies
and are looking for a simple solution to the problem. The idea of gun
control to reduce criminal and violent activities can be compared to a
proposal for banning cigarettes to cure all cancers. Any deviation from the
right to own and bear arms is pointless. Instead the root cause of crime
and violence needs to be understood and addressed.
The root cause stems from a difference in beliefs between human
beings. The difference in beliefs between religious viewpoints, political
ideals, governmental dictations, social classifications, or the belief that
what is yours should be mine, etc., generates anger within people. In the
United States these differences have been observed throughout our history.
In fact, its safe to assume that, due to the origins of our population, The
United States has endured a greater level of difference than any other
population on Earth. The problem arises when that anger is generated into
hostile actions. Whether planned or provoked these hostile actions lead to
damage of someone else, or their property. The root cause of crime and
violence lies within the population that chooses to resort to hostile
actions, and often results in crimes of murder, burglary, and rape, etc.
The point that the gun is the favorite tool of choice for perpetrators is
Let’s step back and analyze the recent history of crime in the United
States. For now only the homicide rate will be observed. “Homicide is of
interest not only because of its severity but also because it is a fairly
reliable barometer of all violent crime. At a national level, no other
crime is measured as accurately and precisely” (U.S Department). The
following data gives a trend for the rate of homicide over the past fifty
years, and is presented on a per capita basis.
The homicide rate doubled from the mid 1960’s to the late
1970’s. In 1980, itpeaked at 10.2 per 100,000 population and
subsequently fell off to 7.9 per 100,000 in 1985. It rose again
in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s to another peak in 1991 of
9.8 per 100,000. Since then, the rate has declined sharply,
reaching 5.5 per 100,000 by the year 2000. (U.S Department)
Additionally, statistics show this trend of reduction for occurrences of
all serious violent crimes. “The definition of serious violent crime
includes rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and homicide. Extrapolations
from graphical representations show that the total number of serious
violent crimes fell from a level of just over four million in 1993 to well
under two million by 2000″ (U.S Department). It should be noted this data
is not per capita and does not take population growth into effect. Even
without this, the reduction in serious violent crimes fell by over 50%
during that time period.
The increases in homicide rate can be explained by the previously
stated root cause determination. It would be tough to blame these trends on
the lack of gun control in the United States. In the 1960’s social reform
pertaining to ethnicity was prevalent. It peaked in the late 1960’s and
continued into the 1970’s along with escalating protest against the Vietnam
War. A large population of protestors emerged and had a voice. With this,
an era of drug use was born. The death of anti-war protests did not
infringe on the civil rights movement, and the drug culture continued to
proceed. A great difference in beliefs was evident. These differences
continued to evolve throughout the 1980’s and were compounded by gang
warfare and the promotion of violence in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.
Throughout all of this there was a large population of angry oppressors,
and their actions often resulted in crime and violence. The declination of
homicide rate observed starting in the mid – 1990’s can be explained
through the following social reforms and changes; Equal rights for all
people were realized and provided, the war on drugs was won through
education and enforcement, and gang lore died with the “murder rap” which
glorified it. These occurrences proceeded, though sometimes through
violence, and led to a progression of our society. At no time was the right
of gun ownership stripped. Instead, it was used as a tool by both sides to
provide a greater outcome.
Many supporters of gun control will look at the difference in crime
and violence compared to other industrialized countries. “One of the least
productive lines of inquiry in the gun control debate has been to make
pairwise comparisons of the U.S. with other nations” (Kleck 331). But to
humor the opponents, these writings will venture into that argument.
Gun control advocates claim that crime is low in the UK because
the British have fewer guns than Americans. But European
countries have always had lower violent crime rates than the
U.S., even before strict gun control laws were passed. Moreover,
many violent crime rates in Europe and elsewhere are increasing
faster than in the U.S. right now. (Otero 54)
These observances are well demonstrated through statistics. “Property
crimes represent 9 out of 10 serious crimes, the burglary rate in Australia
is 40% higher than that in the U.S., in Canada 12% higher and in England
and Wales 30% higher. Sweden and the Netherlands, despite their reputations
as nearly crime-free, have burglary rates 35% and 84% greater than the
U.S.” (Morgan A14). Furthermore, lets just compare England to the U.S.. “.
. . Most recently, the British Parliament has acted to ban all handguns and
may Britons have advocated a complete prohibition on all firearms” (Utter
305). The effects of this can be shown through the following observances:
“The English robbery rate was about half the U.S. rate in 1981, but was 40%
higher than America’s in 1995. The English assault rate was slightly higher
than America’s in 1981, but more than double by 1995. The English burglary
rate was half America’s in 1981, but nearly double by 1995″ (Morgan A14)
It is obvious that gun control laws have minimal effect in England as
well as in other countries. There is still the question of why serious
crimes in the United States dramatically declined beginning in the mid
1990’s, besides the social occurrences that have already been mentioned.
Another reason may be that legislation during that time period set forth to
add police officers to the population. “Title I of the 1994 Crime Bill
intends to add 100,000 police officers nationally by the year 2000. . . .
100,000 more would be an increase of 18.4 percent” (Dizard 291).
Additionally, with this idea, a more strict set of punishments were set
forth for crimes committed with a gun. Still, no significant amount of guns
was taken off the streets. Sticking with the argument that England has less
crime due to stricter gun control laws, the following observances show that
our decreased level of crime is a result of increased rates of detection
and more severe punishment. “English conviction rates for rape, burglary,
assault and auto theft plunged by half or more since 1981, while the
likelihood of serving prison time for committing a serious violent crime or
burglary has increased substantially in the U.S.” (Morgan A14). The
following statistics can be used to quantify this observance in the United
Murder has dropped 30% as the probability of going to prison
has risen 53%.
Rape has decreased 14% as the probability of imprisonment has
Robbery has decreased 29% as the probability of imprisonment
28%. Burglary has decreased 18% as the probability of
increased 14%. (Morgan A14)
Should we in the United States adopt the philosophy of gun control so
widely accepted in other countries? Or should our population continue to
understand and enforce punishments on the population that converts their
anger into hostile actions.
The removal of gun ownership would put a hindrance on the population
that uses it as a tool for protection. Some people rely on their possession
of a gun for deterrence of crime and violence. This population has great
numbers, and as previously described can be defined as a militia. If
controls were taken to limit gun ownership this population would be put at
risk and stripped of their liberty. They believe that possession of a gun
gives empowerment against the potential for crimes committed against them.
This population is often well trained and educated on proper gun use, and
thus do not often find themselves in situations were misuse could cause
harm. “More than 90 percent of all uses of guns in self defense do not
involve actually firing the weapon . . .” (Sowell 69).
There are others that keep weapons in their home strictly for use
against invaders. The idea behind this is, once again, for protection. A
victim of burglary can be anyone, but the knowledge of a perpetrator that
their potential victim is armed is a major deterrent to that criminal.
“Most burglars report that they avoid late night burglaries because “that
is the way to get shot”. . .Gun ownership for home protection is
considerably more beneficial to the entire community than many other anti-
burglary measures” (Roleff 15). This idea is well understood by a huge part
of our population, and is the point why many Americans choose to exercise
their right to own and bear arms. The majority of time gun ownership is
probably not given a second thought, and most do not see it as a problem.
“The tremendous degree to which widespread gun ownership makes American
homes safer from invaders is one of the great unreported stories of the
American gun control debate” (Kim 78). Just with this information it is
time to state “let well enough alone” or “don’t screw up a good thing”. No
population supporting gun control laws can take away, or limit, ownership
of another person’s well stated right to keep and bear arms.
Besides all of this, any infringement on a person’s right to keep and
bear arms will have further negative impacts on our structure of today’s
successful society. A removal of our right guaranteed under the Second
Amendment will give rise to greater control of the U.S. government over its
population. This is a major reason why our founding fathers found this
amendment to be so important and supported its inclusion second only to
freedom of religion. Without the use of a gun for our protection against a
tyrannical government, who is to say that further control progressions
would not lead to communism or martial law? Additionally, what will happen
to the market for gun production and every other industry that provide
resources to it? Eliminating gun ownership eliminates a large number of new
purchases; in fact it can be assumed that this would be a huge blow to a
large part of the manufacturing sector. This, in turn, would reduce
incoming taxes to governments thus a raise in taxes would be necessary, and
job losses would increase significantly and have no source of replacement.
These are some of the most severe problems evident in our society today,
and the point that some people think gun control would be beneficial fail
to see how that thought could impact their life.
With the use of the gun as a tool, our society is moving more towards
a vision of equality and people are learning to settle their differences in
a non-violent manner. As a result crime and violence in the United States
is in decline, and gun controls have nothing to do with this. America needs
to continue to educate and punish perpetrators that channel anger into
hostility, and steer away from the idea of that our “right to keep and bear
arms” should be removed.
Dizard, Jan E., Robert Merrill Muth, and Stephen P. Andrews, Jr.. Guns in
A Reader. New York: New York University Press, 1999. 1, 291.
Kim, Henny H., ed. Guns and Violence: San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999.
Kleck, Gary. “International Comparisons and the Killias Research.” The Gun
You Decide. Ed. Lee Nisbet. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2001.
“Militia.” Blacks Law Dictionary with Pronunciations, 1979 ed
Otero, Glen. “Gun Ownership Does Not Contribute to Violent Crime.” Gun
Opposing Viewpoints. Ed. James D. Torr. San Diego: Greenhaven
Press, 2002. 54.
Reynolds, Morgan O. “Europe Surpasses America in Crime.” The Wall Street
New York 16 Oct 98 Eastern: A14.
Roleff, Tamara L., ed. Guns and Crime: San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2000.
Sowell, Thomas. “Gun Ownership Increases Personal Safety.” Gun Violence:
Opposing Viewpoints. Ed. James D. Torr. San Diego: Greenhaven
Press, 2002. 69.
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice
Statistics. 30 Jan 04
Utter, Glenn H. Encyclopedia of Gun Control and Gun Rights: Phoenix: The
2000. 137, 222, 268, 305.
Thesis: The invention of the gun provided a tool of progress, and has been
influential in our success as human beings. In the United States this fact
was understood and adopted by making right to ownership a law. Though crime
and violence does exist, gun controls in America are not a solution to the
problem. Gun control laws are wrong and will have a negative impact on
society and the successes observed over recent years.
Introduction: Gun Control Laws; an Illegal Drug for the Cure of Crime and
Violence in America
I. A history of gun use
A. Its evolution into a tool
B. A tool used for hunting, survival and sport
C. A tool of progress that is here to stay
II. Gun control is an infringement on a person’s rights
A. Statement of the Second Amendment
B. Interpretation of Second Amendment
1. Definition of “Militia”
2. “Militia” related to the individual
C. Inclusion of the Second Amendment to protect and promote equality
III. Analysis of crime and violence
A. The root cause of crime and violence
B. Current trends in America
1. Decline in homicide and serious crime rates
2. A root cause explanation
C. Trends in America versus other countries
1. Statistics for those with strict gun control laws
2. America’s success without them
D. Increased enforcement and punishment instead of gun control
IV. Social impacts of gun controls
A. A loss of self defense
B. A loss of home protection
C. A loss of protection from tyrannical governments
D. A loss of industry, source of taxes, and employment
Conclusion: With the use of the gun as a tool, our society is moving more
towards a vision of equality and people are learning to settle their
differences in a non-violent manner. As a result crime and violence in the
United States is in decline, and gun controls have nothing to do with this.
America needs to continue to educate and punish perpetrators that channel
anger into hostility, and steer away from the idea of that our “right to
keep and bear arms” should be removed.