Research Proposal: Gun Control as a Social Problem

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Gun Control as a Social Problem

A recent report in the Washington Post states the following:

More than 4,000 children and teenagers are killed by guns every year in the United States. That tragedy is drawing thousands of marchers to Washington this week. The organizers, who are calling the Mother's Day event the Million Mom March, want stricter gun laws. They say new laws would mean that fewer children -- and adults -- would be hurt or killed ( Shen).

In this context, the calls for stricter gun control laws are therefore not seen as an individual problem but as a social issue that threatens the safety and well-being of the community and which requires action from the leadership and governance of the society.

However, the issue of gun control is one that has raised heated debate in American society. There are many who disagree with gun control, and who see gun ownership as a social, cultural and individual right that is inherent in the constitution and in the very ethos of the country, as a free and democratic nation. The rationale put forward by that not in favor of gun control is that they have the right to defend themselves.

But this debate goes much deeper. It is in fact an argument that reveals a deep rift in the country. In sociological terms it is a disagreement between those in favor of social control and those who value individual freedom above social norms and collectivism. There are many there sociological dimensions to this problem that will be explored in this paper.

2. Definition and statement of the problem

The call for gun control is in essence an urgent call to stop the extremely high rate of gun crimes in the country.

Gun crimes -- or firearms offenses -- are never far from the headlines in the United States and other countries with high levels of gun ownership. Incidents such as the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007 & #8230;and the Columbine High School shootings in 1999 are all high-profile examples of what some have called "the firearm epidemic (Qvortrup).

The view that gun control is directly related to a reduction in violent crime in the country is supported by many studies. In The Global Gun Epidemic From Saturday Night Specials to AK-47s by Cukier and Sidel (2005), the authors make the case for a strong link between the availability of guns and gun-related death and injury throughout the world. The statistics tend to support these views."Firearms are the second leading cause of traumatic death related to a consumer product in the United States and are the second most frequent cause of death overall for Americans ages 15 to 24…" (lintelman). It is also shocking to note that since 1960, "…more than a million Americans have died in firearm suicides, homicides, and unintentional injuries ( lintelman).

( Source: http://livingtextblog.andosciasociology.net/2009/01/29/dj-dylan-lintelmanfgcu-gun-control/)

On the other hand there is the opposing standpoint which states that the ability to own guns in fact reduces crime through deterrence. But what this debate is really about is the high rate of violent gun-related crime in a modern, first -- world country like the United States. It is therefore a debate that revolves around the issue of social violence and the need to end or reduce violence in society; as well as the need to find ways and means of reducing the increasing number of crimes attributed to the availability of guns.

This view is expressed by sociological commentators. For example;

Gun control is a serious problem in the U.S. And we need to find solutions to this problem before more innocent lives are taken. There is a big difference between political parties on this issue. Republicans want less gun control and less government altogether. They believe the right to own a gun is an inherited right and think that it should have little regulation. Democrats on the other hand, favor more gun control in order to prevent school related incidences and unnecessary homicides ( lintelman).

3. The debate

The debate about gun control in the United States revolves around the interpretation of the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution declares 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" (Lintelman).

There are various interpretations of this Amendment. Some interpret the wording to refer to the right to defend oneself in times of attack or invasion -- which is linked to the history of the country. While the Amendment suggests the right to bear arms, other are of the view that this right is subject to laws and restrictions and should not be interpreted too openly.

The debate is summarized succinctly as follows:

More gun control will make our streets safer, but without guns how would we protect ourselves and our families from violent crimes? Guns are one thing that you can't live with and you can't live without, and right now the debate goes back and forth with no resolutions in sight ( Lintelman).

4. The sociological dimensions of the problem

There are as number of sociological theoretical perspectives that can be applied to this debate. One view that has become prevalent is that the rise of gun crimes is as a result of "cultural scripts." These are norms and values in popular culture that are promoted in the media and which inculcate or socialize the acceptance of violent behavior and crime -- which in turn is exacerbated by the access to guns. As one sociological commentator notes;

… in the U.S. today there are cultural scripts that are violent in nature and have been popularized by the media and the entertainment industry. Boys in particular adopt these scripts -- boys who are socially marginalized, deeply disturbed and troubled -- as a way of restoring their masculinity. If you look at the history of school shootings in this country, many of them have this character. The images themselves seem to come out of popular culture (The Sociology of School Shootings).

This view is line with many other sociological concepts. The issue of social stratification is also noted in the above quotation. This refers to the view that those in the lower economic strata of society feel most threatend and would be most likely to oppose any forms of gun control.

The above is also related to the important concept of socialization. The issue of the socialization into a culture of violence through the media and entertainment has become one of the critiques of American society. The use of guns in mass-shooting incidents, which is a phenomenon that is becoming more prevalent in our country, has also been explained in terms of the gap between practical and possible levels of achievement in the county. In other word, there is a certain level of frustration when the 'American dream' cannot be achieved and which may lead to violence. Many sociologists see as central to the need for gun control.

The theory of anomie, propounded by Durkheim, also serves to explain the causes of the high rate of gun crime. This theory refers to the concept of 'normlessness' or a lack of meaning and direction in modern societies. The theory states that there is a link between loss of meaning and a breakdown of social cohesion and unity and the increase in violent crime. As Colin Wilson states; "If man is deprived of meaning beyond his everyday routine, he becomes disgusted and bitter, and eventually violent. A society that provides no outlet for man's idealist passions is asking to be torn apart by violence" (Egger et al.: 19).

This theory is refers to the lack of integration and regulation within a society. When a situation of 'imbalance' exists in any society, there is an increase in the measured rate of deviance. The situation in which there is a lack of regulation in a society is termed anomie. Durkheim's theory of anomie is therefore" & #8230; based on the twin concepts of egoism (lack of integration) and anomie (lack of regulation)…" (Deviance and Social Control). This theory can therefore be applied to the problem of gun control and gun killing in a way that enables us to see deeper into the sociological dimensions of the issue.

Confect theory also provides insight into this problem. This refers to the Marxian analyses of societal conflict, which views conflict as symptomatic of sociological dysfunctional and a sign of bias and error within the nature and structure of the system. In terms of this theoretical perspective, the possible resolution of the gun control issue lies with the understanding of the deeper forces and divisions that exist in the society and in the individual.

5. Conclusion: possible solutions

The issue of gun control is on many levels a sociological problem. It is a problem of dissention and conflict in the society as well as an issue that pertains to normlessness and anomie in American… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Gun Control as a Social Problem."  Essaytown.com.  November 21, 2009.  Accessed September 15, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/gun-control-social-problem/44209.