Gun Control and Reform

 

Introduction

The second amendment of the U.S. constitution guarantees, “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, [and that] shall not be infringed”. Gun control legislation is an often heated debate between those who wish to increase firearm regulation and those opposed to it. This topic of discussion involves issues such as ensuring constitutional rights, protecting innocent civilians, and deterring violent crime. I will examine this debate by critically analyzing two articles on the subject. The first will be USA Today’s piece entitled, “Next, Comprehensive Reform of Gun Laws”. This article applauded the passage of strict gun control legislation through the senate, and articulated the benefits provided from such reform legislation and the need for more laws. On the other side, Alan M. Gottlieb’s article, “Gun laws are no answer”, asserts the detrimental impact of firearm regulation and how it affects crime rate and the safety of civilians. My purpose in this paper is to evaluate the arguments on both sides of the debate to provide a critical assessment of why gun control legislation is essential to ensure the country’s security.

Summary of the Arguments

The first article published in USA Today strongly suggests that America should enact more gun laws. To support this claim, the author first focuses on particular gun laws and then suggests improvements of legal processing for firearm related crimes. First, the article explains that laws requiring waiting periods and background checks keep criminals from purchasing guns from local dealers. One premise of the argument indicates that laws banning certain guns and ammunition will keep the streets safer as those weapons become scarce. Here, the author implies that laws like these will stop criminals from buying guns and discourage the use of dangerous anti-personnel weapons. Second, the article posits that by enacting more laws, the judicial system will be better prepared to process gun related crimes and ensure licensing and training for gun owners. For this reason, the article implies we should pass more gun laws because the legal system will work more efficiently while ensuring fundamental regulatory policies.

Gottlieb on the other hand adamantly disagrees. In his article he provides statistical evidence which display violent crime increases in several states that have passed laws requiring wait periods for gun purchases. He believes this data is important, since every time a gun control law is passed, violent crime goes up not down. And, he assumes, we wouldn’t want violent crime to increase. Furthermore, he notes, due to gun laws, the streets are safer for criminals and more dangerous for victims because the victims no longer have a way to protect themselves. He gives an example of a woman and her family being murdered by her estranged husband. He insists that if she wasn’t on a wait list to purchase a gun, she would be alive today. Gottlieb believes every person has a fundamental right to protect themselves and their families. This right is so important in fact, the he concludes America should not enact more gun laws.

Critical Analysis of Both Arguments

Some would object to the USA Today article in favor of broadening gun law restrictions as inaccurate for two reasons. First, there is statistical evidence in Gottlieb’s article which repudiates the effectiveness of waiting periods in lowering crime rates and protecting innocent civilians. Many conservatives think enforcing wait periods denies lawful citizens the right to protect themselves in situations that are life threatening and urgent. Second, the black markets for guns thrive in these conditions, producing an armed criminal populace and unarmed civilian victims. Imposing wait periods disarms the public. This, Gottlieb and others suggest, opens the door to criminals who will commit violent acts.  However, many disagree with the above assertions. While current gun control laws are not entirely effective in decreasing gun violence; regulating the sale of guns through waiting periods establishes protocol that fundamentally protects law abiding citizens. Creating an environment that increases the difficulty of purchasing firearms decreases the chances that a deadly weapon will get into the hands of a criminal. Through waiting period processes, it is the goal of reform supporters to remove guns from the streets and increase the difficulty to buy a gun. Consequently, they believe wait periods provide an effective solution to obtain that goal.

Reactions to Gottlieb’s statement, “gun control makes the streets safe for violent criminals” (Gottlieb 2007), supporters of gun regulation would object whole heartedly. Many would argue Gottlieb’s argument rests on weak supporting evidence. He provides vague statistics without note of where they were published, or who provided the study. Beyond this, to describe a victim’s unfortunate death, then blame it on firearm wait lists do not prove that wait lists are not effective in deterring crime. I think it is a shame this article had to use rhetorical devices to strengthen the persuasive character of the argument. Solid facts are what the public needs, not scare tactics.

On the other side, supporters of Gottlieb’s view would propose the statistics are not scare tactics, they are the truth. In some states, violent crime is a daily activity. Usually, the crime happens to innocent civilians who would have been able to protect themselves if it were not for waiting periods to purchase a gun. When criminals know their victims are unarmed, they will take advantage of that weakness. This is clearly the case with the statistical evidence provided. In several states, violent crime does go up when gun regulations restrict the populace from buying guns legally. The victim’s story was just a singular example to portray the realities that victims of violent crime face. There are thousands of other victims each year that die because they couldn’t protect themselves.

Critical Assessment

It is my belief that increasing gun control regulation is the most important step in decreasing firearm related crime. Imposing laws which require waitlists, registration, training, education, and dangerous weapon bans, can only make cities safer. Gottlieb’s objection to this argument is insufficient by reason of its reliance on statistical evidence which may not be accurate, and the assertion that black market gun sales will increase. The basis for our beliefs in regulating firearms lies in disarming felons and criminals and increasing the difficulty for them to purchase guns. While it is unfortunate that victims are murdered, we cannot place the blame on the gun control laws that were created to protect them. Purchasing a gun and arming oneself is only one way to protect a family. There are more effective solutions to violence than the use of lethal force.

Furthermore, Gottlieb depends on statistical data which is misrepresented to support their argument. To insist the rise of crime is related to firearm waitlist’s in anyway seems improbable. If gun control was to cease, everyone could own a gun despite a criminal record. But, through gun regulations, the number of guns on the streets will decrease, and if the number of guns on the streets decrease, then black market gun sales will also decrease. The opposing view would have us all believe waitlist’s disarm civilians and arm the criminals, yet I must assert this is not the case. Therefore, I firmly believe gun control legislation is essential to protecting our families and keeping the streets safe from violent criminals.

Conclusion

The two articles I evaluated for this paper subscribe to contrasting sides of an important societal debate. In this paper, I critically examined the strengths and the weaknesses of both arguments to provide an in depth analysis of the conflicting views. Through this process I discovered the supporters of increased firearm legislation had a stronger position then those opposed to it. The USA Today article clearly explained the benefits of increased gun control legislation. It provided solutions and delivered them in a clear and concise manner. On the other hand, Gottlieb’s view, in my opinion, relied too heavily on unsupported statistics and anecdotes. The absence of supported evidence leads me to believe that his argument lacked credibility. Also, the assumption that black market gun sales will increase does not hold much weight if it becomes more difficult for criminals to purchase guns in the first place. Both sides of the debate want to protect innocent civilians and lower crime rates. The solution however, lies with the proponents who support increasing gun reform legislation.

Works Cited

Gottlieb, Alan M. “Gun Laws Are No Answer.” In Critical Thinking, 8th ed., by Brooke Noel Moore and Richard Parker, 476. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007 USA Today, “Next, Comprehensive Reform of Gun Laws.” In Critical Thinking, 8th ed., by Brooke Noel Moore and Richard Parker, 475-476. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007.