Here is an essay about an equally important issue that has been debated for several decades, and is still being debated right now. Here goes:
There has been much debate (albeit often shrill, and often heated) between Gun Rights Advocates and Gun Control Advocates. As a Gun-Control advocate, however, here are my reasons for being in favor of Gun Control. The Gun Control Advocates are not trying to deprive hunters and target shooters of their sports, nor are they trying to deprive people who simply collect guns like others collect stamps, or whatever, of their collection, nor am I referring to security personnel, police officers, or those serving in the military who are authorized to carry guns.
I used to favor an all-out ban on snubnosed handguns, but, as time went on, I realized that the NRA and the Gun Lobby in general, are too well-organized, too well-funded and too powerful for an all-out ban on these guns to be realistically possible. Unfortunately , however, for the past several decades, the NRA has bullied various lawmakers (i. e. State Reps, Senators, and Congress members, for example) out of passing stronger, more affective firearms laws. Contrary to what many gun rights advocates point out, the slogan “Guns don’t kill, people do”, is a slogan that I have refused to buy into. Whether it’s realized or not in many circles, a gun is designed to kill people. It is a weapon of war, and a whole way of life is either abruptly ended or irrevocably and adversely altered by the squeeze of the trigger and the crack of a pistol. Most murders are crimes of passion that occur among people who know each other; in the home, in barrooms, on street corners or even in parking lots, among family, friends and/or acquaintances. When heated situations arise, the presence of a firearm or firearms makes a murder or permanent maiming far more likely. Another frequent occurrence is when young kids get access to guns, not realizing that they’re actually loaded, play the typical kids’ “bang-bang” game, where one pretends to shoot the other dead, and actually ends up killing a sibling, relative or friend, because they don’t realize that the gun is actually loaded.
All too often, people who know each other get into nasty arguments, which turn deadly when firearms are present. Some people will say “Oh, I can control myself”, but, in reality, they don’t really know what they’d do until that bridge is actually crossed and they’re faced with such a situation. All too often, it’s far too easy, in a fit of anger, to just simply pick up a gun and fire it at someone in anger, resulting in a death or permanent maiming. In many very poor urban areas, murders are rampant, due to poverty, lack of employment and education opportunities, and the presence of drugs, bad housing, and overcrowding. The prevalance of guns, which often come in illegally, or by mail order make this an even more deadly situation, upping the number of murders, and making whole areas extremely dangerous for law-abiding residents.
It’s also true that the vast majority of guns that end up in the hands of criminals are stolen from private homes, or even cars and/or trucks. When burglars break into private homes, guns are often the first thing they look for, and, all too often, end up using them in an armed robbery, assault, or homicide. All too often, too, many unstable people with histories of mental illness, substance and/or alcohol abuse, or anger-management issues get access to firearms, which have also led to horrific results. Many of the assassinations that occurred in the past (i. e. MLK, JFK, RFK and many others), could well have been avoided had there been stronger, more affective firearm laws in the books. The United States has the highest rate of murder by handguns per capita in the Western Hemisphere, because there’s so little gun control present.
Many pro-gun people argue that one can kill or permanently injure a person by beating, stabbing, or even strangling their victim(s).
While it’s true that a person who’s hell-bent on murdering someone could stab, strangle or beat his/her victim to death, it’s also true that it’s far easier to fire a gun at a person from a distance than it is go right up to the person and beat, stab or strangle him/her. Sometimes, too, the chances of one surving and fully recovering from a stabbing, a beating, or an attempted strangulation can be and are a little better, depending on the depth and intensity and area that was injured due to the beating or stabbing or attempted strangulation, and how quickly the victim of such an attack gets help, is rushed to the hospital, and receives medical care. While a person can only beat up, strangle or stab one person at a time, a gun can kill and/or maim more people more quickly, due to the ability of a gun to spray bullets into the air, thereby hitting two or more people at a time. Gunshots also inflict much more damage than a fist, foot, or even a club, because, at least partly due to the fact that a gun is fired from a distance, bullets travel at a much, much higher velocity. A person who’s angry at another person and has the urge to beat, stab or strangle him/her has to go right up to the person, thus increasing the chance of an angry person’s regaining their cool, thereby preventing a deadly incident from occurring.
Having guns around the house often present other dangers; Suicide is more likely if a person’s feeling quite down, and there’s a firearm within reach. All too often, one reads/hears about someone hearing somebody walking around in the kitchen, shoots that person and finds out that the person walking around was a spouse, sibling or offspring who’d just wandered into the kitchen for a drink of water or a midnight snack. Cases also abound when a person comes homes, finds his/her spouse in bed with their best friend’s spouse, or even the milkman or the mailcarrier, and shoots both his/her spouse and the person they had the affair with dead or permanently crippled. Improper and/or careless handling of firearms, too, can cause them to go off, killing or permantly crippling somebody.
The Columbine shootings and other school shootings, as well as the number of drive-by shootings that regularly occur in many really poor urban areas not withstanding, one very catastrophic event occurred up in Vermont four years ago last fall, when a 13-year-old boy who was the victim of constant cyber-bullying by his classmates, took to heart a suggestion by one of his tormentors that he kill himself as a way out of it, got his father’s loaded shotgun and committed suicide by shooting himself. I believe that a combo of the father keeping a loaded shotgun around the house unlocked and within reach of an extremely distraught child, plus the lack of parental supervision of young kids posting on the computers all contributed to the 13-year-old boy’s taking his own life. After that, the father of the deceased boy waged an anti-cyberbullying campaign, thus helping to get anti-cyberbullying laws passed up in Vermont.
Having said all of the above, I am admittedly not a fan of firearms being in civilian hands, because, imho, they don’t belong. However, if civilians want to own and keep firearms around the house, at least taking some responsibility and perventive precautions.
Here are some precautions that gun-owners can and should take:
A) Always keep firearms safely locked up and unloaded, and don’t allow family members and/or friends with a history of mental illness, drug/alcohol abuse or anger management issues, or young children have access to them. Keeping guns locked up will also prevent or minimize the chance of theft, in the event that someone’s private home is broken into.
B) No matter where one lives, be it in an urban, suburban or rural area, never leave firearms out in plain sight on the dashboard of a car or truck, where somebody walking or driving by could take a fancy to the firearms in the vehicle, break in and steal the firearms.
C) See to it that your firearms are properly registered and teach family members how to handle guns responsibly.
Contrary to popular belief among many gun-rights advocates, most handguns DON’T end up getting used in self-defense, but are more often than not, used to kill other people in homicides. A gun can get taken away from an owner and used against him or her, because there’ll always be someone who’s quicker on the draw than they are. As the saying goes “No matter how great a person is, or thinks they are, there’s always somebody who’ll be their master”.
There are certain things that gun manufacturers, as well as gun dealers, should be required to do also:
A) Gun dealers should be required to engage in extensive screening and background checks, as well as a waiting period, for perspective gun buyers, and deny people with histories of mental illness, emotional instability, substance and alcohol abuse and anger management issues access when such people’s names come up on a gun dealer’s computer screen.
B) Gun manufacturers should be required to install tamperproof locks in firearms to prevent unauthorized use in the event that a firearm is lost or stolen, or to prevent young kids from tampering with them.
C) The number of firearms manufactured in the United States should be better regulated than it is.
Unfortunately, however, the Gun Lobby and the NRA have affectively bullied legislators out of passing even such simple requirments as more extensive screenings, background checks and waiting period requirements for perspective gun buyers, and the implementation of tamper-proof locks into firearms by gun manufacturers, and more regulation in the number of guns manufactured here in the United States, which has led to catastrophic results. As a society whose culture has long been depended upon and revolved around the gun, the net results have now come into fruition; in many streets, homes, barrooms and among family and friends, in many cases.
“It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brush fires of freedom in the minds of men.” – Samuel Adams (1722-1803)