Crime and Violence inAmericaIn America questions of gun control have been evident. Beliefs varyfrom no infringement on a person’s right to own and bear arms shall bebrought about, to other’s ideas that guns should be eliminated from thepopulation to reduce crime and violence. Recently, with many of the highlypublicized atrocities evident in our culture these points have been the twomajor sides supporting the gun control debate. The simple fact is that theinvention of the gun provided a tool of progress, and has been influentialin our success as human beings.
In the United States this fact wasunderstood and adopted by making right to ownership a law. Though crime andviolence does exist, gun controls in America are not a solution to theproblem. Gun control laws are wrong and will have a negative impact onsociety and the successes observed over recent years.Since the inception of gun powder a method, or a tool for, firing aprojectile through a barrel with great force soon followed. Early in itsevolution this tool was utilized by people to acquire tangibles by force.This was counteracted by people using the same tool to defend theirproperty.
Throughout history this pattern has not changed significantly.Whether these actions are right or wrong does not matter, the gun is only atool applied for these purposes. Just like a hammer is used to build, it isequally beneficial for demolition. Our country, well known as the worldleader, was won under these pretences.
Though both sides needed, and usedguns, our past countrymen applied them in a more successful manner toacquire our freedom.The use of the gun was a key for early pioneers in America. Not onlydid the gun provide for protection from wild animals, but it granted easyaccess to food through hunting. For people on the move this tool was anecessity for survival, both for protection and promotion of life.The ability to hunt and protect has evolved into a sport. Just like abat and ball can showcase abilities of precision and athletics, the use ofa gun for sport exemplifies marksmanship and abilities to hunt and survive.Many people in the United States understand this and have embraced it. “TheNational Shooting Sports Foundation was established in 1961 to representthe shooting sports industry.
The Foundation recognizes that the shootingsports industry has been supported by 18 to 20 million Americans who engagein 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 theiruse, in the United States are too widespread and cannot be removed orexcessively controlled. Any advance towards this will result in rebelliousactivities similar to those exhibited during prohibition.Our founding fathers had the forethought to understand the importanceof the gun. They realized its necessity for protection from tyranny. Thisthought was realized through the constitution and ratified by the SecondAmendment of to Bill of Rights.
“This amendment states in typically laconicfashion, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of afree State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not beinfringed”” (Utter 268).This amendment has been analyzed and interpreted many times to suitmany arguments. In most cases the word “Militia” is the basis fordifference in interpretations. Whatever definition has been accepted for”Militia” is circumstantial. The Bill of Rights were not written toguarantee 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 inthese writings it would be best to take a literal look at its definition asgiven by Blacks Law Dictionary: “Militia: The body of citizens in a state,enrolled for a discipline as a military force, but not engaged in actualservice except in emergencies, as distinguished from regular troops or astanding army” (“Militia.”).This definition can clearly encompass any citizen willing to organizeoneself, or as a force, with motivation aside to serve alongside, or inopposition to, a regular standing army. In a simple sense any person canbe, or be part of a militia.It does not matter what definition, or interpretation, one decides tobelieve.
The Second Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights to providesecurity and protections from opposition that may conflict with what ourfounding 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 thatour past countrymen won the revolution, and utilized the gun as a tool, wasa testament to its importance.
The use of the gun did not go unnoticed, andit can be seen in its inclusion as the Second Bill to the ratification ofthe constitution. The gun is a tool that provides equality for all people.This ideal needs to be understood by the ignorant, as it accepted byopponents of gun control laws. A prominent spokesperson in opposition togun control laws stated this ideal well. Charlton Heston, a one time actorand now the president of The National Rifle Association voiced his opinionof the Second Amendment to put it best. “Heston refers to the SecondAmendment as “America’s first freedom” because, he claims, it protects allother freedoms contained in the bill of Rights: It is the first amongequals” (qtd. in Utter 137). This idea can be simplified and observed tosee how guns are used to promote progress through equality.
Unfortunately the gun can be used as a tool to facet crime andviolence. Levels of crime vary from country to country throughout theworld, and even from city to city in Ohio. It can be assumed that mostpeople would like to see these levels at zero, but the simple fact is thatcrime and violence does exist, and always will exist, with or without theuse of guns.In the United States crime and violence is a major focus ofattention. Understandably, it is well conceived to be a major problem. Alarge part of the population believes that crime and violence is a resultof gun ownership in America. Others see it differently, hence a reason fordebate. It is obvious that America has an infatuation with the gun, and canbe observed by its exaggerated use in our movies and television shows.
Isthe gun the cause of crime and violence, or is it the easiest thing toblame? “The passion guns evoke strongly suggests that the debate is atleast as much about the symbolic meanings we attach to them as it is aboutguns themselves” (Dizard 1). The argument that guns result in crime andviolence is weak, and adopted by the population who watch too many moviesand are looking for a simple solution to the problem. The idea of guncontrol to reduce criminal and violent activities can be compared to aproposal for banning cigarettes to cure all cancers. Any deviation from theright to own and bear arms is pointless. Instead the root cause of crimeand violence needs to be understood and addressed.
The root cause stems from a difference in beliefs between humanbeings. The difference in beliefs between religious viewpoints, politicalideals, governmental dictations, social classifications, or the belief thatwhat is yours should be mine, etc., generates anger within people.
In theUnited States these differences have been observed throughout our history.In fact, its safe to assume that, due to the origins of our population, TheUnited States has endured a greater level of difference than any otherpopulation on Earth. The problem arises when that anger is generated intohostile actions. Whether planned or provoked these hostile actions lead todamage of someone else, or their property. The root cause of crime andviolence lies within the population that chooses to resort to hostileactions, and often results in crimes of murder, burglary, and rape, etc.The point that the gun is the favorite tool of choice for perpetrators isirrelevant.Let’s step back and analyze the recent history of crime in the UnitedStates. For now only the homicide rate will be observed.
“Homicide is ofinterest not only because of its severity but also because it is a fairlyreliable barometer of all violent crime. At a national level, no othercrime is measured as accurately and precisely” (U.S Department). Thefollowing data gives a trend for the rate of homicide over the past fiftyyears, and is presented on a per capita basis.The homicide rate doubled from the mid 1960’s to the late1970’s. In 1980, itpeaked at 10.2 per 100,000 population andsubsequently fell off to 7.9 per 100,000 in 1985.
It rose againin the late 1980’s and early 1990’s to another peak in 1991 of9.8 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 ofall serious violent crimes. “The definition of serious violent crimeincludes rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and homicide. Extrapolationsfrom graphical representations show that the total number of seriousviolent crimes fell from a level of just over four million in 1993 to wellunder two million by 2000” (U.
S Department). It should be noted this datais not per capita and does not take population growth into effect. Evenwithout 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 previouslystated root cause determination. It would be tough to blame these trends onthe lack of gun control in the United States. In the 1960’s social reformpertaining to ethnicity was prevalent. It peaked in the late 1960’s andcontinued into the 1970’s along with escalating protest against the VietnamWar. 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 notinfringe on the civil rights movement, and the drug culture continued toproceed. A great difference in beliefs was evident. These differencescontinued to evolve throughout the 1980’s and were compounded by gangwarfare 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 ofhomicide rate observed starting in the mid – 1990’s can be explainedthrough the following social reforms and changes; Equal rights for allpeople were realized and provided, the war on drugs was won througheducation and enforcement, and gang lore died with the “murder rap” whichglorified it. These occurrences proceeded, though sometimes throughviolence, and led to a progression of our society. At no time was the rightof gun ownership stripped.
Instead, it was used as a tool by both sides toprovide a greater outcome.Many supporters of gun control will look at the difference in crimeand violence compared to other industrialized countries. “One of the leastproductive lines of inquiry in the gun control debate has been to makepairwise comparisons of the U.
S. with other nations” (Kleck 331). But tohumor the opponents, these writings will venture into that argument.Gun control advocates claim that crime is low in the UK becausethe British have fewer guns than Americans. But Europeancountries have always had lower violent crime rates than theU.S., even before strict gun control laws were passed.
Moreover,many violent crime rates in Europe and elsewhere are increasingfaster than in the U.S. right now. (Otero 54)These observances are well demonstrated through statistics. “Propertycrimes represent 9 out of 10 serious crimes, the burglary rate in Australiais 40% higher than that in the U.S., in Canada 12% higher and in Englandand Wales 30% higher. Sweden and the Netherlands, despite their reputationsas nearly crime-free, have burglary rates 35% and 84% greater than theU.
S.” (Morgan A14). Furthermore, lets just compare England to the U.S.
. “.. .
Most recently, the British Parliament has acted to ban all handguns andmay Britons have advocated a complete prohibition on all firearms” (Utter305). 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 higherthan America’s in 1981, but more than double by 1995.
The English burglaryrate 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 aswell as in other countries. There is still the question of why seriouscrimes in the United States dramatically declined beginning in the mid1990’s, besides the social occurrences that have already been mentioned.Another reason may be that legislation during that time period set forth toadd police officers to the population.
“Title I of the 1994 Crime Billintends 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 setforth for crimes committed with a gun. Still, no significant amount of gunswas taken off the streets.
Sticking with the argument that England has lesscrime due to stricter gun control laws, the following observances show thatour decreased level of crime is a result of increased rates of detectionand more severe punishment. “English conviction rates for rape, burglary,assault and auto theft plunged by half or more since 1981, while thelikelihood of serving prison time for committing a serious violent crime orburglary has increased substantially in the U.S.” (Morgan A14). Thefollowing statistics can be used to quantify this observance in the UnitedStates.Murder has dropped 30% as the probability of going to prisonhas risen 53%.
Rape has decreased 14% as the probability of imprisonment hasincreased 12%.Robbery has decreased 29% as the probability of imprisonmenthas increased28%. Burglary has decreased 18% as the probability ofimprisonment hasincreased 14%. (Morgan A14)Should we in the United States adopt the philosophy of gun control sowidely accepted in other countries? Or should our population continue tounderstand and enforce punishments on the population that converts theiranger into hostile actions.The removal of gun ownership would put a hindrance on the populationthat uses it as a tool for protection. Some people rely on their possessionof a gun for deterrence of crime and violence. This population has greatnumbers, and as previously described can be defined as a militia.
Ifcontrols were taken to limit gun ownership this population would be put atrisk and stripped of their liberty. They believe that possession of a gungives empowerment against the potential for crimes committed against them.This population is often well trained and educated on proper gun use, andthus do not often find themselves in situations were misuse could causeharm. “More than 90 percent of all uses of guns in self defense do notinvolve actually firing the weapon . .
.” (Sowell 69).There are others that keep weapons in their home strictly for useagainst invaders. The idea behind this is, once again, for protection. Avictim of burglary can be anyone, but the knowledge of a perpetrator thattheir potential victim is armed is a major deterrent to that criminal.
“Most burglars report that they avoid late night burglaries because “thatis the way to get shot”. . .
Gun ownership for home protection isconsiderably more beneficial to the entire community than many other anti-burglary measures” (Roleff 15). This idea is well understood by a huge partof our population, and is the point why many Americans choose to exercisetheir right to own and bear arms. The majority of time gun ownership isprobably not given a second thought, and most do not see it as a problem.”The tremendous degree to which widespread gun ownership makes Americanhomes safer from invaders is one of the great unreported stories of theAmerican gun control debate” (Kim 78). Just with this information it istime to state “let well enough alone” or “don’t screw up a good thing”. Nopopulation supporting gun control laws can take away, or limit, ownershipof another person’s well stated right to keep and bear arms.Besides all of this, any infringement on a person’s right to keep andbear arms will have further negative impacts on our structure of today’ssuccessful society.
A removal of our right guaranteed under the SecondAmendment will give rise to greater control of the U.S. government over itspopulation. This is a major reason why our founding fathers found thisamendment to be so important and supported its inclusion second only tofreedom of religion. Without the use of a gun for our protection against atyrannical government, who is to say that further control progressionswould not lead to communism or martial law? Additionally, what will happento the market for gun production and every other industry that provideresources to it? Eliminating gun ownership eliminates a large number of newpurchases; in fact it can be assumed that this would be a huge blow to alarge part of the manufacturing sector. This, in turn, would reduceincoming taxes to governments thus a raise in taxes would be necessary, andjob 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 failto see how that thought could impact their life.With the use of the gun as a tool, our society is moving more towardsa vision of equality and people are learning to settle their differences ina non-violent manner. As a result crime and violence in the United Statesis in decline, and gun controls have nothing to do with this. America needsto continue to educate and punish perpetrators that channel anger intohostility, and steer away from the idea of that our “right to keep and beararms” should be removed. Works CitedDizard, Jan E., Robert Merrill Muth, and Stephen P. Andrews, Jr..
Guns inAmerica:A Reader. New York: New York University Press, 1999. 1, 291.Kim, Henny H.
, ed. Guns and Violence: San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999.78.Kleck, Gary. “International Comparisons and the Killias Research.” The GunControl Debate:You Decide. Ed.
Lee Nisbet. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2001.331.
“Militia.” Blacks Law Dictionary with Pronunciations, 1979 edOtero, Glen. “Gun Ownership Does Not Contribute to Violent Crime.
” GunViolence:Opposing Viewpoints. Ed. James D. Torr. San Diego: GreenhavenPress, 2002. 54.
Reynolds, Morgan O. “Europe Surpasses America in Crime.” The Wall StreetJournalNew York 16 Oct 98 Eastern: A14.
Roleff, Tamara L., ed. Guns and Crime: San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2000.15.Sowell, Thomas. “Gun Ownership Increases Personal Safety.” Gun Violence:Opposing Viewpoints.
Ed. James D. Torr. San Diego: GreenhavenPress, 2002.
69.U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of JusticeStatistics.
30 Jan 04Utter, Glenn H. Encyclopedia of Gun Control and Gun Rights: Phoenix: TheOryx Press,2000. 137, 222, 268, 305.OutlineThesis: The invention of the gun provided a tool of progress, and has beeninfluential in our success as human beings. In the United States this factwas understood and adopted by making right to ownership a law. Though crimeand violence does exist, gun controls in America are not a solution to theproblem. Gun control laws are wrong and will have a negative impact onsociety and the successes observed over recent years.Introduction: Gun Control Laws; an Illegal Drug for the Cure of Crime andViolence in America I.
A history of gun useA. Its evolution into a toolB. A tool used for hunting, survival and sportC. A tool of progress that is here to stay II. Gun control is an infringement on a person’s rightsA.
Statement of the Second AmendmentB. Interpretation of Second Amendment1. Definition of “Militia”2. “Militia” related to the individualC. Inclusion of the Second Amendment to protect and promote equalityIII. Analysis of crime and violenceA. The root cause of crime and violenceB. Current trends in America1.
Decline in homicide and serious crime rates2. A root cause explanationC. Trends in America versus other countries1. Statistics for those with strict gun control laws2. America’s success without themD. Increased enforcement and punishment instead of gun control IV.
Social impacts of gun controlsA. A loss of self defenseB. A loss of home protectionC. A loss of protection from tyrannical governmentsD. A loss of industry, source of taxes, and employmentConclusion: With the use of the gun as a tool, our society is moving moretowards a vision of equality and people are learning to settle theirdifferences in a non-violent manner. As a result crime and violence in theUnited States is in decline, and gun controls have nothing to do with this.
America needs to continue to educate and punish perpetrators that channelanger into hostility, and steer away from the idea of that our “right tokeep and bear arms” should be removed.