Is Gun Control Missing the Mark?

carlton

By: Arthur Carlton-Jones

acarlton@terpmail.umd.edu

Copy edited: Amanda Hirsch and Kevin Qiaos

Research Edited by: Jared Bernhardt

Format edited by: Arthur Carlton-Jones

The Debate:

In America today, there is a fierce debate over the issues of gun rights and gun control. Opinions on the issue are very polarized, which makes it is a heated topic. This causes most people to simply avoid the topic. Almost everyone in the United States can buy a gun and has the right to do so. Unfortunately, this means anyone could be shot, whether by a psychopath with a gun, by an armed robber, or entirely by accident. Because of this, everyone in America has a stake in this issue; no one is beyond its scope. Since the problem is so important, it should be discussed no matter how fierce or uncomfortable the conversation may be. If the issue is never discussed, most people will lack an understanding of it and make uninformed decisions based on impulse and emotion. For the purposes of this article, “gun control” is used to refer to the legislation rather than the enforcement thereof. The Unites States’ current gun control measures are ineffective because there is not a great enough understanding of what causes people to commit gun homicides to know if regulation is the best approach to stopping this. The use of guns which are regulated, such as “assault rifles”, has not contributed nearly as significantly to the homicide rates as the use of other guns has; and despite regulation of guns in schools, children still bring guns.

The Issues:

Liberals, the primary proponents of gun regulation, would argue that if gun regulations reduce gun-related homicides, they are effective. Conservatives, the primary adversaries of gun control, would argue that gun regulations would only be effective if they profoundly reduced gun-related homicides while not compromising one’s freedom.

From 1999 to 2014, the annual rate of gun-related homicides decreased by 0.45 per hundred thousand people.[1] Liberals might attribute this to increases in gun regulations during this time; however, conservatives might argue, as Edward Erler does in his article “The Second Amendment as an Expression of First Principles”, that this decrease in homicides occurred because “Over the past two decades, gun ownership has increased dramatically.”[2] This is exactly the problem with gun control; one has no way of knowing if regulations are having their intended effect.

It is quite obvious, though, when regulation is not achieving its purpose, such as new gun control aimed at reducing school shootings. These regulations are not effective because many juveniles in the inner-city still bring guns to school.[3] This just goes to show: if someone wants to kill someone, they will find a way; no amount of gun control will stop them.

There has been a recent push to place heavy regulations on “assault weapons”, which are mainly semiautomatic rifles. These guns fall under the general category of long guns. While both homicides due to long guns and hand guns have decreased from 1999 to 2014, there have been far fewer homicides committed with long guns than with hand guns.[1] This indicates why increasing regulations on “assault weapons” is a wasted effort. Gun control should certainly not be imposed on “assault weapons” because they are used in homicides far less than other guns.

Many gun regulations are proposed out of fear or misunderstandings that arises from a lack of discussion of the issue. “Semiautomatic rifles are labeled assault weapons because of their appearance, not their mechanics.”[4] There are, however, some other gun regulations which have a purpose. For example, “sawed-off shotguns, short-barreled rifles, silencers, machine guns, and” any other type of gun that acts like a rifle or shotgun but can be easily concealed “are effectively banned.”[5] Regulation of these modified guns could actually reduce the gun-related homicide rates.

The Bottom Line

The Unites States’ current gun control measures—especially involving “assault weapons” and preventing school shootings—are ineffective because there is not a great enough understanding of what causes people to commit gun homicides. In addition to this, current gun control measures target the guns which are certainly not causing the problem, if there is a problem at all. Even though there are some aspects of gun control that work as they are intended, gun control sacrifices too much freedom for not enough safety and homicide prevention. As the quote by Benjamin Franklin usually goes, “One who would give up freedom for security deserves neither and will lose both.” Since increases in gun control have not resulted in a net beneficial result, no more gun regulations should be implemented.

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