The Political Background Behind Pro Gun Control Laws In America

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A political issue that the U.S. is facing is whether the government should have stricter gun control laws. This subject has been a topic of debate in recent years due to prevalent mass shootings, especially in school. On one side, citizens are expressing the need for more gun control laws to decrease crimes involving the use of firearms. The other side, however, states that there shouldn’t be more gun control laws because it infringes on the second amendment right to keep and bear arms. Both sides, fairly equal in terms of support, have more supporting arguments that strengthen their standing on the matter of gun control. On the pro gun control side, the arguments presented are that the second amendment was intended for militias, reduce gun violence, has always been there, and that the majority of Americans support additional gun control (ballotpedia.org). In the first argument, proponents state that the second amendment was viewed in the context of service in state militias as coined by the phrase “a well regulated militia”(procon.org). This also leads to their argument of the second amendment not granting unlimited rights to own firearms. 

In June of 2008, Justice Antonin Scalia reasoned that the right to bear arms is not unlimited and that the laws prohibiting the mentality ill and felons to own weapons, as well as preventing citizens from carrying weapons in sensitive places like schools and government buildings, are examples of that limitation. Therefore, a court ruling of 7-4 that the right to concealed firearms in public is “not, and never has been protected by the second amendment” and requiring permits for gun ownership in California (Procon.org). Another argument brought up would be that more gun laws are needed to stop violence. They associate gun violence to alarming suicide and homicide rates, increase federal expenses, and for more protection for woman. 

Facts that support these claims are: gun violence costs the U.S. $229 billion every year, a woman is shot by her current or past partner every sixteen hours, Americans kill each other with guns twenty five times more than other high-income countries, and 155% more people are shot when high capacity weapons, such as assault rifles, are involved (bradyunited.org). Finally, another major argument of the proponents is that the majority of adults, including firearm owners, agree that there should be more regulations on gun control. These so called regulations, also known as “common sense gun control”, ranges from background checks, bans on assault rifles, bans on high capacity magazines, and etc. According to procon.org, the proponents state that 97% of Americans and 97% of gun owners support a universal background check, 67% support a ban on assault rifles, and 83% support a mandatory wait time in between periods of purchasing weapons. Don Macaldy, a member of Hunters against Gun Violence, states that “commonsense legislation” makes us all safer and prevent “criminals and other dangerous people” from acquiring guns (procon.org). On the con side of gun control, the main arguments of the opponents are that the Second Amendment protects individual rights to bear arms, guns are needed for self-defense, and gun ownership decreases crime rather than increasing it (ballotpedia.org). 

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Opponents state that enacting more laws that prevent citizens from owning weapons is an infringement on a right guaranteed by the Second Amendment. They interpret the quote “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.’ as the right of people to bear arms that is “unconnected with service in a militia”. Without the right, the people wouldn’t be able to use firearms for “traditionally lawful purposes” of protecting themselves in their homes (procon.org). Additionally, opponents claim that gun control laws will prevent citizens from defending themselves and their families from foreign threats. The Libertarian Party states that “A responsible, well-armed and trained citizenry” is the best form of protection against foreign invasion. Opponents claim that by taking away the guns of citizens, it will provide an “unorganized” armed citizenry incapable of defending against foreign invaders or “domestic tyrant” (procon.org). Finally, opponents emphasize the fact that gun ownership does not increase crime and instead decreases crime. They have stated that since 1990, the number of firearms per capita increased by 50% in the U.S., but at the same time, the national homicide and gun-homicide rate dipped by 50% (Swearer). 

Another example given would be how Texas, which has a gun-control rating of “F”, has seen only 6.6% of public mass shootings versus California, which has a gun-control rating of “A”, has seen at least 17% of mass shootings. It is concluded that the main focus should not restricting citizens of gun ownership, but on untreated mental illness, gang and drug activity, and the lack of educational and economic opportunities that leads to these crimes. Based on the arguments of both sides, it seems that they both agree that recent mass shootings are the center of the discussion. The proponents have the mindset of believing that removing the majority of weapons will solve the issue of homicides and suicide. They provide statistical information that points to the fact that there are many deaths involving guns. Therefore, the basis of their stand seems to point to the fact that they believe having firearms does more harm than good. This can be seen with how they especially want to ban assault rifles and high capacity magazines, which are deadly for mass homicide. Also, they are concerned with the safety of citizens unrelated to homicide, such as accidental family fire resulting in improper handling of firearms. It is unclear whether the proponents want a complete ban on firearms, or merely to restrict the usage of assault rifles and high capacity magazines. Oppositely, the opponents are fixated on the fact that it violates the Second Amendment rights of citizens being allowed to bear arms. 

However, they also see the fact that stripping citizens of their firearms will prove to be fatal as it wouldn’t solve the circulation of illegal firearms. They emphasize the fact that gun control is more detrimental because it makes citizens unprepared for danger. Additionally, they refute the claim of “assault rifles” being dangerous and the cause of homicides by stating that mass shootings, especially with assault rifles, are rare. The claim is backed by evidence in decreasing homicide rates with the increase of firearms owned by Americans in the past decades. Their belief in solving the problems of gun-related crimes are in tackling mental health and providing better education on the usage of firearms. In conclusion, proponents prioritize safety over everything else, believing that fewer guns will equal fewer deaths. Opponents believe that rights should be upheld and that firearms aren’t to blame and that it lies in the people who use them.   

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