Gun Control in the US: Laws and Public Opinion

Introduction

Gun control refers to restrictive efforts to control sales, ownership, distribution and use of guns among Americans. Gun control issue has divided the Americas into three groups with proponents, opponents and neutral people. People who support strict and tough measures on guns claim that the laws would restrict access by criminals and children and limit injuries and deaths from guns.

On the other hand, people against gun control laws believe that such laws will not have any meaningful effect on criminals, but rather violate their constitutional right. Many critics have noted that increased lawful access to guns would result in few cases of crimes and shooting. Gun control issue has become extremely difficult to tackle because of politics involved.

Access to guns has been a part of Americans’ tradition and history. In modern society, however, new issues about gun ownership and use have emerged, which have necessitated the call for gun control (Lexington, 2013). The US is regarded as a democratic society. In such societies, guns should have limited roles because their presence put the whole country at risk.

Politics has affected any potential contributions to workable solutions. The National Rifle Association (NRA) and other gun stakeholders are major political financiers and lobbying against any controls of guns. Moreover, politicians fear that they could lose a huge number of voters and rate poorly in public opinion polls if they introduce stringent control over gun ownership and use. At the same time, politicians who support guns and push for Americans’ rights feel like they do not have sympathy for the families of mass shootings and gun deaths.

Issue Perspectives

Gun Rights

In 2008, the Supreme Court made a fundamental ruling that upheld the right of the US citizens to have arms for self-defence and hunting. It made a similar ruling in 2010 in which it expanded the right of people to bear arms in States and cities (Adams, 2013).

These rulings took place before the recent events of Colorado shooting and Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting. The National Rifle Association (NRA) has expressed its opposition to federal regulations against gun ownership, whereas other bodies and the public have favoured federal gun control. Some of the gun control laws are in the Gun Control Act 1968 and the National Firearms Act 1934. These laws only accounted for sales, usage, ownership, and spread of arms.

These laws also aim to ensure that wrong people do not possess guns. Such people include people with questionable backgrounds, children, and mental health cases. Most gun-related attacks relate to guns in the wrong hands of children and juvenile. The law will ensure that minors do not gain access to guns. The laws will restrict access to guns. In addition, supports believe that the implementation of gun control policy would eliminate cases of criminals owning guns.

On the other hand, gun control laws cannot eliminate guns from the public or reduce their lethal consequences. People need guns in order to protect themselves and their property. Besides, it is a legitimate right for Americans to have guns and other weapons.

People are the sole culprit, and guns only act as weapons of murder or crime. In most cases, guns used in crimes are illegal, stolen, smuggled, or not registered. Gun control laws would make gun ownership difficult as opposed to the provision in the constitution. Therefore, many people will think that such controls deny them their rights.

Public Opinion

Since these two deadly events, the American support for gun control has grown steadily. According to some survey results by Huff Post, 55 per cent of the Americans believed in strict gun control laws, while 13 per cent claimed that such laws should not be strict. Still, 27 per cent of the respondents did not see the need to change gun control laws. Shootings in the recent past informed the decisions of most Americans to advocate for strong and strict gun control laws (Page, 2013).

Activists and the public have supported strong and strict gun control laws for a while. There are many reasons for gun control, but the chief reason is to ensure the safety of individuals. Supporters have claimed that such laws would reduce cases of rampant shootings and firearm-related accidents and deaths. There is a narrow opportunity for Americans to address the issue of gun control and violence.

While some of the lawmakers have expressed their strong opinions on gun control, others are reluctant. There are proposed laws to restrict and delay permits for people who have shown or complain consistency about mental disorders (E.B, 2014). Law enforcement officials should get court orders to restrict such individuals who have shown tendencies of gun violence or mental disorders from owning guns. This approach, however, has drawn criticism regarding civil liberties and the right to gun ownership among the mentally disabled.

Most Americans use firearms for suicide, too, especially people with mental problems. Gun control laws would make sure that people with mental trauma do not gain access to guns. Moreover, such people increase the chances of arming others with guns already in their possession.

The NRA and people who are against gun control laws also have valid reasons for their positions. They believe that such laws shall only put pressure on ordinary citizens who abide by the law, but not the targeted criminals. Therefore, such laws do not have any beneficial use. Based on such notions, we have to look at the pros and cons of gun controls and develop stringent solutions, which can reduce deaths and accidents from firearms by a significant number.

Gun is a dangerous weapon that only serves the purpose of killing. It is, therefore, only reasonable if few people possess guns. Still, criminals have gained access to guns because of weak laws. However, if laws ban people with criminal records from owning guns, then criminals would find it difficult to have guns. This would also restrict cases of children possessing guns.

Video games, sport shooting, hunting, or some advertisements have glamorized possession of guns and their roles in society. These activities fail to account for the fatal consequences of recklessness with guns. The policy should address the gun culture among the public, as well as desensitize unnecessary ownership of guns. Gun control laws would ensure that people account for all firearms in their possession. This act would reduce cases of violent crimes and gun-related accidents and deaths.

The most cited reasons for gun control laws related to the number of deaths and accident-related to guns. Opponents of gun control laws claim that the implementation of gun control acts shall only affect law-abiding Americans. On the other hand, criminals will get their guns by other ways like smuggling, black market, or through theft from registered owners.

Given that the right to own a gun is a part of the American constitution and by extension, an individual’s right, it will be difficult to take that right way from citizens because gun owners will protest in order to protect their right. While the law provides the provision to own a gun, the focus should be on the personal responsibility of the gun owner. In the past, people have engaged in violence involving guns, which lead to deaths. The media have played their roles by claiming that such deaths result from sense use of guns.

One must question the role and responsibility of the gun owner. Gun owners should take control of the places in which they keep their weapons. In other words, we have to keep guns away from people who should not gain access to them. In most cases, minors who cause deaths and injuries by guns normally get them from their homes. This shows that guns in homes do not have secure places to restrict accessibility.

Gun owners need adequate training on handling guns because many people own guns, but they do not observe gun safety and usage. People must spend time in order to learn about proper usage and safety of guns. This is the only way to limit gun casualties.

Training on the safety of guns should also extend to kids. Proper training can reduce the mystery surrounding guns, which children wish to explore. Such approaches can reduce cases of minor shooting others. We have to note that many people rushed to purchase guns in the recent past for protection. Consequently, the government reacted by introducing strict gun control laws.

Challenges to Gun Control

From various reactions from different sections of the country, it would be difficult for Americans to achieve gun control policies. Many people who call for gun controls are racially and geographically diverse. These situations have hampered potential reforms in gun ownership and use. In addition, Americans have expressed diverse opinions. In other words, there is no consensus on the issue of gun control because Americans have different experiences with guns. In most cases, calls are mainly stronger after shooting has happened. However, any attempts soon fade away as the public and lawmakers turn to other issues.

Conclusion

The issue of gun control in the US remains extremely delicate. Gun ownership and use have become important issues because of the mass shooting that has left many people dead and badly injured. Politics has even escalated the issue further. Since guns are a part of Americans’ tradition and protected by constitutional rights, any attempts to pass new laws have been regarded as attempts to infringe on such rights.

Americans understand the role of the government in protecting the lives of its citizens, as well as protecting their constitutional rights. Although many lawmakers have opposed new laws on gun control, some have realised the need to introduce new restrictions, tightening existing gun laws, including background checks and mental screening for buyers. However, these potential reforms have slackened and weakened over time because of different public and political opinions.

Today, many Americans remain deeply divided about the issue of gun control. Meanwhile, mass shootings continue. It is imperative to understand current events and pass appropriate laws to control gun ownership and use with the aim of combating public mass shooting and gun massacres.

Appendix

Honesty Statement

This is my original research on the issue of Gun Control in the US.

Statistics

Mass shooting in US, 1982-2012

Assault deaths

Gun ownership in America, 1959-2010.

Map

References

Adams, J. (2013). Handgun Control Debate. Web.

E.B. (2014). Gun control in America: Lies, damned lies and statistics. The Economist. Web.

Lexington. (2013). Gun control: America’s gun divide. The Economist. Web.

Page, S. (2013). USA TODAY Poll: Public support for gun control ebbs. USA TODAY. Web.