Term Paper: Gun Ownership and Gun Control

Pages: 15 (4682 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Law - Constitutional Law  ·  Buy This Paper

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] (Youth Violence Statistics, Pg 2) In 2002, gang members were responsible for over three hundred homicides. (City Declares War on Gangs, Pg 2)

Gang culture - much like militia culture - revolves around respect for firearms. Gang members take a great deal of pride in their guns and they take pride in their killing. Violence by gang members in big cities is equivalent to war. It is not uncommon for non-gang affiliated bystanders to be hit by stray bullets in gun battles perpetrated by those involved in gangs. Youth gang members use their guns mercilessly, and unlike war they don't tend to take prisoners.

If guns were not available so easily, gang members would have a much harder time participating in violent activities. If guns were outlawed, every gang member who was arrested would lose his weapon, so too would every other person carrying a firearm. Soon the supply of weapons would be down and the demand would go up. The result would be that kids trying to sell drugs on street corners would not have access to these types of weapons as easily as they do today.

School Shootings:

In 1998-99 academic year, 3,523 students were expelled for bringing a firearm to school. This is a decrease from the 5,724 students expelled in 1996-97 for bringing a firearm to school. (Gun Violence Statistics, Pg 2)

Many consider February 2, 1996 to be the official start to the modern era of school shootings. In 1996, a 14-year-old student went on a rampage at his school in Moses Lake, Washington. When the dust settled, two students and one teacher were dead. This was just the first incident to take place. From that point forward, mass attacks on schools by students in the United States have become almost commonplace. (Timeline of Shootings, Pg 1)

Between 1996 and 2003 there have been twenty-four major school shooting incidents in the United States. Casualties of these in-school shootings include five teachers and thirty-five students. Numerous bystanders were wounded in many of the incidents as well. (Timeline of Shootings, Pg 1)

Perhaps the most infamous of these school shootings was that which took place on April 20, 1999 at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, two local teenage boys, marched into their school on that morning armed with an assortment of guns, knives, and bombs. They subsequently killed twelve classmates and one teacher. They wounded twenty-three other students as well before turning their weapons on themselves. Investigations following the incident discovered that the two boys had been planning the attack for a year and were motivated in part by Adolf Hitler and Aryan Nations propaganda. (Reconstructing the Horror, Pg 1-5)

Klebold and Harris used an assortment of weapons in their rampage. The following items were used in the attack:

One TEC DC 9, modified semi-automatic pistol

One sawed-off double-barrel shotgun

One 9 mm semi-automatic rifle

More than 30 homemade explosives, including pipe bombs, crude hand grenades and a propane tank with explosives attached. (Weapons Used in the Shooting Pg. 1)

Though they carried explosives and knives, these items were not employed as frequently as the firearms. Indeed, though some of the bombs were effective, many of them simply didn't work. The carnage unleashed at Columbine was primarily due to the easy access these young men had to guns.

Robyn Anderson, a friend of Klebold and Harris, bought the shotguns and the Hi-Point 9mm Carbine at the Tanner Gun Show in December of 1988 from unlicensed sellers. Because Anderson purchased the guns for someone else, the transition constituted an illegal "straw purchase." Klebold and Harris bought the TEC-DC9 from a pizza shop employee named Mark Manes, who knew they were too young to purchase an assault pistol, but nevertheless sold it to them for $500. (Violence Policy Center, Pg 1)

In other words a seventeen-year-old and an eighteen-year-old with no other criminal connections had no problem whatsoever acquiring weapons which they wished to use on their classmates. The access that these two young men had to both weapons and ammunition (bought at the local K-Mart) is extremely disturbing. None of the weapons used during the Columbine incident had any function other than for use on human beings. These weapons were not designed for hunting or target practice, they were designed to be used as they were: to kill people.

The school shooting incidents reflect a disturbing trend among teenagers. There is a belief that guns and violence are the answer to their problems. On the one hand this belief has been built up by videogames and Hollywood. The Hollywood action hero - the person the audience is supposed to empathize with - routinely dispatches his enemies with extreme prejudice. On the other hand, politicians, police officers, and military veterans are often opposed to any type of gun control legislation. In other words, real world people, not movie heroes, support one's right to own a gun. To the teenage mind, this support of firearms often equates to the idea that "guns are good." And it doesn't take much for an immature teenage mind to redefine "guns are good" into "using guns to solve problems is a good as well."

Small Children:

In February of 2000, a scuffle took place on an elementary school playground. The participants were two first grade children, both six years old. One was a boy whose name has not been revealed. The other was a girl named Kyla Rolland. After the scuffle the school day ended like most school days do. However, the boy was still upset about his conflict with Kyla. So while he was home that night, he took a loaded.32-caliber pistol from the closet.

The next day when the six-year-old boy saw the girl in their first grade classroom, he shot her in the neck. The girl died in a hospital a half hour later. It is unlikely that the boy really understood what he was doing... (McDonald, Pg 1-2)

As American gun culture provides ample images of people who are "cool" using guns, children often seek out these weapons. They want to hold them. They want to play with them. They want to shoot them. In many cases they simply do not understand what they are holding. Following are some statistics about kids and guns:

On average, 4 to 5 children died every day in non-homicide firearm incidents from 1995-2000.

In 2001, there were 14,571 kids injured by a firearm - and an additional 13,572 kids were injured from BB or pellet guns.

The overall firearm-related death rate among U.S. children aged less than 15 years was nearly 12 times higher than among children in 25 other industrialized countries.

Forty percent of American households with children have guns.

Two thirds of students in grades 6-12 say they could obtain a firearm within 24 hours. (Kids and Guns, Pg 1)

There are few countries in the world which allow children such unencumbered access to firearms. There are few countries in the nation wherein parents concern themselves with whether or not their child should play with another child because of what the child's parents may or may not have. In the United States many parents are truly concerned about the access to weapons that their children's friends might have. (Kids and Guns, Pg 2)

The reality is that a responsible gun owner could easily prevent a child from attaining access to a gun. They could put it in a safe or put a gun lock on it, but as the preceding figures show many gun owners are far from responsible and their children pay the price for their own infatuation with firearms.

Acquisition of a Firearm:

One of the primary arguments made by the National Rifle Association and others who staunchly defend the second amendment is that if guns were taken away only criminals would have guns. This may be true, but the question is how did they get said guns? How easy is it to obtain a weapon in the United States?

The reality is that it is quite easy. Gun stores and pawn shops abound. Flea markets and gun shows are relatively unregulated places wherein almost anyone can buy a gun. In Michael Moore's excellent documentary on American gun culture "Bowling for Columbine," Moore exposes a bank which provides its customers with a free gun simply for opening a new account. In a country which worships firearms guns are simply not that hard to obtain.

According to government figures, 89% of crime guns traced have changed hands at least once.

Nearly 1 in 3 guns recovered in a crime are less than three years old.

Gun shows and flea markets are the second leading source for guns illegally trafficked.

A federal study found that almost 26,000 guns recovered in crime came from a gun show or a flea market - a typical investigation involved 131 illegal guns trafficked.

In gun show investigations, felons are associated with selling… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Gun Ownership and Gun Control."  Essaytown.com.  April 18, 2003.  Accessed September 15, 2019.
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