A child lies on his parents bedroom floor with a gunshot wound in his chest. His best friend stands over him, gaping. The nine-year-old boys eyes dart from the blood oozing from his friend to his own shaking index finger, still clutched on the trigger of the gun. It was not supposed to happen this way. The gun was not supposed to be loaded. They should not have been snooping in the first place. But this scene has happened before, in countless different settings, with countless different children. It must be stopped, and the best way to do this is with stricter gun control laws.
Guns are instruments of death, and there is no pleasant way to put it. For instance, it is three times more likely that someone will be killed in the home if there is a gun there, and it is more likely that the someone will be a friend or family member rather than an intruder (Kim 159). It is frightening how many people die yearly from guns. In 1994, 38,505 people died from gun-related injuries. Of these deaths, 17,866 were homicides and 18,765 were suicides (Squyers 77). Guns especially harm young people. In 1992, 1,468 children and teenagers were killed by handguns, and the number of injured is estimated to be about one hundred times that (Kruschke 16). The news informs the public of kids finding guns and killing each other on a regular basis, especially during the recent school massacres. In 1996, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that fifty people die violently in American schools each year (Just Some of the), and today the number is probably more. Guns are a danger to American society.
However, the government is not ignoring the problem of gun violence. Several laws have been passed in an effort to protect the people from each other. The Second Amendment says that 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 (Squyers 4). The key word in this Amendment is the word militia, meaning that this right is meant for a controlled army made of citizens (i.e.: the National Guard), not single people (Kruschke 4). Another important law concerning gun control is the Brady Law. Sarah Brady, wife of former presidential press aid Jim Brady, started the law after her husband was wounded during an assassination attempt upon President Reagan. The law requires a five day waiting period and background check before anyone can purchase a gun (Krushke 103). However, there is a loophole in this law stating that background checks at gun shows are voluntary (Goldstein 56). This is simply an outrage, considering that any criminal with a terrible background who wants a gun can easily go to a gun show and get a deadly weapon without hassle, defeating the purpose of the Brady Law. It is clear that there are gun laws, but they are obviously not strong enough.
Also, the government has made other efforts to restrict gun use that do not include passing laws. For example, in September of 1999, President Clinton offered $15 million to cities to buy back and destroy about 300,000 guns (Shalal-Esa; par 16). Furthermore, the U.S. government plans to file a lawsuit against the gun industry to make them change the way they market and distribute guns because of the 600,000 gun crimes committed yearly (Shalal-Esa; par 1, 7). These efforts are not enough, though. Strict, serious gun laws must be passed. Why is this so hard for our government to do? Australia banned the selling of assault guns and pump-action shotguns within two weeks of a shooting in Port Arthur in which one mentally unstable man killed thirty-five people (Kim 23). The U.S. government is trying, but they need to try harder, since their efforts are certainly not enough.
Laws such as the one passed in Australia work, and there are statistics that show this. For instance, two years after Massachusetts passed the Bartley-Fox law, homicides in Boston dropped 39%. Also, in 1975, the murder rate in South Carolina declined 28% after their handgun laws were strengthened (Kruschke 22-23). In 1998, the 7% drop in homicides was clearly caused by a decrease in gun murders. The rate had fallen to 6.3 homicides per 100,000 peoplethe same as it had been in 1967, when the first wave of serious crime hit. Robberies had also dropped 6% that year (Butterfield; par 1,3). This is proof that gun control laws do work.
If no gun control laws can be passed that would heavily restrict or ban gun use, there are other ways of dealing with crime. One method is to reduce violence shown on TV and in video games so children are not as desensitized to seeing blood and gore (Kim 166). Then there is community policing, a method of putting officers out on the streets to meet and work with the people, has also worked in many communities (Kim 164-65). There is also bullet control, which would add heavy taxes onto bullet prices and discourage their purchase, or simply put strict control on who buys bullets (Kim 165). Finally, the best and most common way of crime reduction is putting locks or safety switches on guns that would make them harder to work. There are also technologies in development that would make it impossible for guns to be fired when not in their owners hands. This is done by placing a chip in a ring or wristband that the owner would wear on his or her finger or wrist. The chip would allow the gun to go off (Kim 167). These are all fairly decent ways of controlling violence, but true gun control is still the best way.
There are many other arguments for stronger gun control. The cost of health care for firearm-related injuries in 1995 was $4 billion (Just Some of the). Also, two-thirds of U.S. citizens favor stricter gun control laws (Kim 153). In a democracy such as ours, this usually means that gun control laws would easily be passed, but they are prevented by powerful groups such as the National Rifle Association and the debate over the Second Amendment. In America, the freedom to live and pursue happiness is very important, yet the government violates that by allowing more potential killers to buy guns every day (Squyers 134). House Majority Whip Tom Delay said in a recent letter, Clinton and the anti-gun lobby are using the tragedies at Columbine High School and Georgia to stop you exercising your right to own a gun and protect your family! (The Pro-Gun Congress) but if the you he talks about cannot own a gun, neither can a potential killer. The problem of school shootings and hundreds of thousands of people being killed yearly is a bigger danger than single families not being protected. These are just a few of the endless reasons for gun control.
There is absolutely no reason why there should not be stricter gun control laws. The controversy over the Second Amendment is what keeps about 40,000 people from living each year. Twenty-seven words cause 40,000 people to die yearly. It must be stopped, and gun control is the solution.
Butterfield, Fox. F.B.I. Study Finds Gun Use in Violent Crimes Declining. New York Times. 18 Oct. 1999, late edition: sec. A, National Desk, 19+.
Goldstein, Andrew. The Victims: Never Again. Time. 20 Dec. 1999: 53-57.
Just Some of the Facts to Consider 1998. http://www.paxusa.org/info_set.html (16 Dec. 1999).
Kim, Henny H. Guns and Violence. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1999.
Kruschke, Earl R. Gun Control. Santa Barbara, CA: ABS-CLIO, Inc., 1995.
The Pro-Gun Congress. The New York Times. 27 Oct. 1999, late edition: sec. A, Editorial Desk, 26.
Shalal-Esa, Andrea. U.S. Plans to Sue Gun Industry. 1999.
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/19991208/ts/guns_lawsuit.html (8 Dec. 1999).
Squyres, Suzanne, et al. Gun Control Restricting Rights or Protecting People?. Wylie, Texas: Information Plus, 1997.