In the United States, gun control legislation has been a longstanding issue of the public, policy-making, and scholarly debate. Advocates of a stricter law on gun control stress on their function as a means and simultaneously driver of violence in American society. Non-arguably, guns are dangerous and in hands of mentally unstable or prone to violence persons, they pose a severe threat of death to the surrounding people. Thus, disarming people susceptible to violence, suicide, or accidents is likely to prevent death caused by the civilian gun use (Kleck, 2005). Statistics cited by the American Medical Association state that nearly 30,000 US citizens die annually shot in schools, workplaces, and public places (Webster et al., 2012). In this respect, proponents of toughening up gun control legislation urge that the uncontrolled possession of guns poses a high level of threat to the public health and well-being. Thus, firearm purchase procedures should incorporate detailed checks of individual mental state, prior criminal record, drug use, family background, and the like to mitigate the risk created for the gun owner’s community.
Another point of gun-control advocates is the purchase and use of gun for proving one’s truth or protecting values is a short, yet insufficient cut. Instead of using guns, Americans should be politically active citizens to support basic human rights, democratic institutions, and traditions of the United States (Carter, 2002). The current gun control legislation relies on the federal act adopted in 1968 to ban access to gun ownership and use by dangerous individuals. Under the term “dangerous individuals,” the Gun Control Act implies drug addicts, individuals with prior criminal record, mental incompetent individuals, fugitives, illegal residents, persons, dishonorably discharged from federal or military service, and those with the renounced US citizenship (Jackson, 2007). However, the steadily growing incidence of death caused by gunshot wounds and the disproportionate number of young people involvement in both using guns and dying from them, the current gun control law has been severely criticized for promoting violence rather than restricting it among the US population, especially young people.
While gun control advocates highlight the danger caused by the widespread use and access to weapons, their opponents stress on psychological and mental disorders being responsible for high death incidence in the country. Pro-gun advocates refer to the US Constitution, namely Amendment 2 that grants the right to self-defense and gun ownership. By manipulating this legislation piece, gun proponents underline their right to have a property for protecting and safeguarding their liberties. In this respect, they suggest prohibiting guns sale to criminals and other dangerous citizens while preserving the right for honest and obedient citizens who understand and consider all the risks associated with the gun ownership (Kleck, 2005).
Interestingly, the supporting party of these gun-related debates does not indicate the line between honest citizens and those prone to violence. Neither does it explain how to predict factors that may raise violence in a person possessing a gun. Although the argument of gun advocates regarding the need to focus on and solve social and economic problems of the population to eliminate these strong motives to violence has value, it appears irrelevant when it comes to children shot by their parents, family members, peers, or themselves. So far, the issue concerning gun control legislation lacks a certain potential for resolution, as the constitutional law challenges it. The balance between individual right to choose and the state’s obligation to protect its citizens from violence is asymmetric. While gun control advocates and critics provide their arguments in support of opposition, people continue dying. Compared to other developed states, crime rates in the United States are not much different, while the homicide incidence is seven times greater than the combined rate of other high-income countries (Webster et al., 2012). Guns homicide accounts for most of the national homicide statistics, which indicates dramatic outcomes of the ease access to gun ownership in the country.
Carter, G. L. (2002). Guns in American society: An encyclopedia of history, politics, culture, and the law. Volume I. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
Jackson, N. A. (2007). Encyclopedia of domestic violence. New York, NY: Routledge.
Kleck, G. (2005). Point black: Guns and violence in America. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
Webster, D. W., Vernick, J. S., Vittes, K., McGinty, E. E., Teret, S. P., & Frattaroli, S. (2012). The case for gun policy reforms in America. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.