Term Paper: Anti-Gun Control

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Anti-Gun Control

Gun control is an issue of passionate debate in the United States. In fact, the issue stirs almost as much passion as the abortion issue. Both sides are adamant about their beliefs and rights. Both sides believe that they are points are logical and true, the issue of gun control is not quite that simple, nor it is as cut and dry as many would wish. However, there is alarming evidence that supports those who wish to enforce tighter control of gun availability in the United States.

In a 2000 article, David Lampo, the publications director at the Cato Institute, points out that the surge of school shootings during recent years re-energized the gun control movement, which even led to a coalition of gun control groups organizing a "Million Mom March" in Washington, D.C. (Lampo). Lampo believes that events such as this are designed to stir emotions rather than promote rational thought, and that when facts are viewed, it is easy to understand why the anti-gun lobby relies on emotion rather than logic to present its case (Lampo).

First, Lampo states that more children die each year from accidents involving bikes, space heaters and drownings, than from gun accidents (Lampo). And that in 1997, 142 children under the age of 15 died in gun accidents, and although the total number of gun-related deaths for this group was 642, this number includes children up to the age of 20, the great majority of whom are young adult males who are involved in gang-related violence (Lampo). Lampo also states that gun shows are not responsible for the large number of firearms falling into the hands of criminals, because all commercial arms dealers at gun shows must run background checks, and the only people who are exempt is a small number of non-commercial sellers (Lampo). According to the U.S. Department of Justice, no more than 2% of guns used by criminals are purchased at gun shows, and the majority of those were purchased legally by people who passed background checks (Lampo). Lampo cites the fact that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the boys responsible for the Columbine High School tragedy, violated approximately 20 firearms laws in amassing their cache of weapons, therefore he claims that it seems rather dubious to argue that additional laws would have prevented the tragedy (Lampo).

According to Lampo, the states that have "shall issue" laws which allows private citizens to carry concealed weapons have, on average, a 24% lower violent crime rate, a 19% lower murder rate, and a 30% lower robbery rate than states that forbid concealed weapons (Lampo). In fact, claims Lampo, the nine states with the lowest violent crime rates are all right-to-carry states (Lampo). Moreover, according to all the studies that have been conducted on the effects of waiting periods, both before and after the federal Brady bill of 1993, consistently show that there is no correlation between waiting periods and murder or robbery rates (Lampo). Even the University of Maryland anti-gun researcher David McDowell, reveals that "waiting periods have no influence on either gun homicides or gun suicides" (Lampo). And finally, Lampo states that there is no correlation between gun control laws and murder or suicide rates across a wide spectrum of nations and cultures (Lampo). For example, in Israel and Switzerland, a license to possess guns is available on demand to any law-abiding adult, and that guns are easily obtainable in both countries (Lampo). Moreover, both countries allow widespread carrying of concealed firearms, yet they "have rates of homicide that are low despite rates of home firearm ownership that are at least as high as those in the United States," and a comparison of crime rates with Europe reveals no correlation between access to guns and crime (Lampo).

According to the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Statistics: Firearm Injury and Death from Crime, 1993-97, of serious nonfatal violent victimizations, 28% were committed with a firearm, 4% were committed with at firearm and resulted in jury, and less than 1% resulted in gunshot wounds (Firearm). Of all nonfatal firearm-related injuries that were treated in emergency departments, 62% were known to have resulted from an assault, and 44% were homicides that were considered firearm-related fatalities (Firearm).

The number of gunshot wounds from assaults treated in hospital emergency departments dropped from 64,100 in 1993 to 39,400 in 1997, marking a 39% decline, and homicides committed with a firearm dropped from 18,300 in 1993 to 13,300 in 1997, marking a 27% decline (Firearm).

According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, NCVS, in 2003, 449,150 victims of violent crimes stated that they faced an offender with a firearm (Firearms). Incidents that involved a firearm represented 7% of the 4.9 million violent crimes of rape and sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated and simple assault (Firearms). According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations' Crime in the United States, of the 16,503 murders that took place in 2003, approximately 67% were committed with firearms (Firearms). And according to the 1997 Survey of State Prison Inmate, among those possessing a gun, fewer than 2% came from a flea market or gun show, 12% came from a retail store or pawnshop, and 80% came from family, friends, a street buy, or an illegal source (Firearms). Concerning the offense that brought them to prison, 15% of State inmates and 13% of Federal inmates carried a handgun, and roughly 2% carried a military style semiautomatic gun (Firearms). State inmates possessing a firearm received, on average, sentences of 18 years, while those without a weapon received an average of 12 years sentence (Firearms). Among prisoners carrying a firearm during their crime, 40% of State inmates and 56% of Federal inmates received a sentence enhancement because of the firearm (Firearms).

Recent polls indicate that the public is in favor of stricter gun control laws, and while the pubic as a whole supports stricter gun control laws, differences in attitudes have been noted (Riedel). For example, past research shows that differences in attitudes towards gun control exist on several overlapping levels including region of country, gender, race, urbanization, familiarity with guns, and weapons training classes (Riedel). Research indicates that there are regional differences with Southerners more prone to opposing gun control than individuals from other regions of the country, although there is some evidence that suggests regional differences may be exaggerated (Riedel). Males are more likely to oppose gun control than females, and whites are more likely to oppose gun control efforts than African-Americans are (Riedel). Residents of urban counties are more likely to support gun control efforts, while those who live in rural counties are not (Riedel). Moreover, those who are familiar with guns are more likely to oppose gun control than those who are not familiar with guns, while those who have had weapons safety classes are more opposed to gun control than those who have not (Riedel). Specifically, those who are more likely to argue against gun control are: whites, criminal justice majors, people who own guns, people who have experience with guns, and residents in rural communities (Riedel).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, death due to injuries from firearms is an increasingly important public health problem (Fatal). In 1994, injuries from firearms were the ninth leading cause of death and the fourth leading cause of years of potential life lost before the age of 65 (Fatal). During the 33-year period covered by the CDC report, the total number of firearm deaths increased by 130%, from 16,720 in 1962 to 38,505 in 1994 (Fatal). If this present trend continues, firearm-related injuries could become the leading cause of deaths attributed to injury, surpassing injuries due to motor vehicle crashes (Fatal). The CDC report reviewed the descriptive epidemiology of firearm-related mortality in the United States from 1962-1994 (Fatal). The patterns of overall firearm-related mortality and of homicide, suicide, unintentional death, deaths occurring during legal intervention, and deaths of undetermined intent were examined by race, sex, and age group (Fatal). Throughout the 33-year period, suicide and homicide were responsible for most firearm fatalities, accounting for 94% of the total in 1994 (Fatal). According to the report, "the fluctuations and overall increase in rates of total firearm-related mortality most closely resembled the pattern of firearm-related homicide" (Fatal). Although the report found that suicide rates were high and were gradually increasing over time, they varied less than homicide rates, while rates for unintentional death from firearms, deaths during legal intervention, and deaths of undetermined intent were low and generally declined (Fatal).

The CDC report states that firearm-related mortality affects all demographic groups, however the greatest increases in recent years were found among teens 15-19 years of age, young adults of 20-24 years of age, and older adults aged 75 and older (Fatal). The rates of overall firearm-related mortality for young people aged 15-24 were higher from 1990-1994 than at any other time during the 33-year period, and for teens 15-19 years of age, increases in firearm-related homicide, suicide, and unintentional injury… [END OF PREVIEW]

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