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Essay: Stricter gun control laws need to be enforced

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  • Subject area(s): Criminology essays
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  • Published: 20 July 2022*
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  • Words: 1,408 (approx)
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  • Tags: Gun control essays

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In the span of a little more than 6 minutes, 17 lives vanished and another 14 lives were harmed by one gunman with an AR-15 rifle. This was the reality for the students and faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018. It was Valentine’s Day, the day of love and affection, and yet, none of the high school’s students, faculty, or family members of the victims felt the same way on that day. During the mass shooting, Mrs. Schamis, one of the teachers, recalled one student asking, “Mrs. Schamis, are we going to die today?” (Burch). A child should never have to worry about life and death situations; however, what the children faced that day at Marjory Stoneman High concerned life and death. The AR-15 rifle that facilitated the deaths has been used in many other mass shootings such as the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. At the time of the shooting, the semi-automatic rifle was easy to purchase and in Florida, a potential buyer had the opportunity to immediately buy and possess the rifle. The fact that the gunman, Nikolas Cruz, had passed the background check to buy the AR-15 rifle even with numerous mental health issues emphasizes the need for stricter background checks. In America, guns prove to do more harm than good. In response, stricter gun control laws need to be enforced by the government to help reduce the amount of gun deaths.

Since 1791, several changes have been made in regard to the regulation of manufacturing, selling, and transporting firearms in the U.S. In 1934, the first national gun control legislation was passed. As part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal for Crime,” The National Firearms Act was made to minimize gang affiliated crimes such as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, and it enforced a $200 tax on the manufacturing, selling, and transporting of certain firearms. In 1968, the Gun Control Act came about and allowed federal, state, and local law enforcement officials more power for regulating gun control in order to fight crime. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 signed by President Clinton amended the Gun Control Act by requiring the purchaser of a firearm from federal firearms licensees to complete a background check. In 1994, Congress passed The Federal Assault Weapons Ban which restricted the manufacture of assault weapons for civilian usage. The ban eventually expired in 2004 after lasting for 10 years and it has not been renewed since then.

Through the requirement for background checks when purchasing firearms and ammunition, gun deaths will drastically decline in the U.S. Background checks are vital for any effective effort to reduce gun violence and contribute to lower rates of gun murders and suicides. This is shown in the states that demand for background checks for all gun related sales. In one recent research study called “Association Between Connecticut’s Permit-to-Purchase Handgun Law and Homicides,” the researchers have concluded that the 1995 Connecticut law (which requires firearm buyers to pass the background checks through permits) leads to a 40% decline in gun homicides and a 15% decline in suicides. In addition, in another research study called “Effects of Missouri’s Repeal of Its Handgun Purchaser Licensing Law on Homicides,” researchers have found that in Missouri’s 2007 repeal of its permit-to-purchase law, the amount of gun homicides has increased by 23%, and the amount of suicides has increased by 16%. The research findings show that background checks play a significant role in decreasing the amount of gun homicides and suicides in the U.S. There should be a requirement for background checks as statistics show that they have a massive impact on gun-related death rates.

With the renewal of The Federal Assault Weapons Ban, mass-shooting related homicides in the United States would be reduced. The school shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (see Fig. I.) on February 14, 2018 has one of the highest death counts for gun massacres in U.S. history.

Fig. I. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where the school shooting took place. Wbur. “After Parkland, Don’t ‘Turn Our Schools Into Prisons,’ Says Education Activist.” WBUR, WBUR, 7 Mar. 2018, www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2018/03/07/school-shootings-security. For the specific purpose of shooting the high school, the gunman bought his legal AR-15 assault rifle. Assault weapons including the weapon used by the Parkland gunman had been banned through The Federal Assault Weapons Ban; however, the ban only lasted 10 years from 1994 to 2004 and has not since been renewed. Assault weapons have been used in a number of other mass shootings since The Federal Assault Weapons Ban ended and include the following: the church shooting in Texas, the Las Vegas shooting, and the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting. Assault weapons have been regularly used for mass-shooting incidents as they have “accounted for 430 or 85.8% of the total 501 mass-shooting fatalities reported in 44 mass-shooting incidents” (Changes in US Mass Shooting Deaths). In comparison, according to the Washington Post, during The Federal Assault Weapons Ban, gun massacres fell 37%, but after the ban stopped in 2004, the massacres went up to 183%. The Federal Assault Weapons Ban has proven to be highly effective and should be renewed so that assault weapons are not readily available for misuse and gun massacres are minimized.

As believed by most gun rights advocates, gun control laws deny people the right to self-defense and a sense of safety. Gun rights advocates maintain that defending oneself with the use of guns is a natural right and cannot be taken away. In addition, supporters of the gun rights movement argue that tighter gun restrictions interfere with the ability of innocent citizens to defend themselves against criminals. Some gun rights supporters believe that by simply buying a gun, the individual instantly becomes safer; however, this is not the case. Gun owners need to be properly trained in order to use their weapons as a way of self-defense if the situation is ever to arise. Research shows that guns are rarely ever used in self-defense and “in 2007-11, less than 1% of victims in all nonfatal violent crimes reported using a firearm to defend themselves during the incident” (Planty and Truman). All in all, although guns are rarely used in self-defense, opponents of gun control argue that having a gun on hand automatically makes the individual safer.

Gun rights advocates maintain that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to own firearms. Opponents of gun control argue that gun ownership is protected by the Second Amendment and with strict gun control laws, the right to bear arms is denied. The Second Amendment of the US Constitution says, “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” (The Bill of Rights: A Transcription). However, the Second Amendment is not an unlimited right to own guns. The Second Amendment embodies only a collective right of the states to maintain militias. In the June 26, 2008, District of Columbia et al. v. Heller US Supreme Court majority opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia, LLB, said, “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited…” (Cornell University Law School). In essence, gun rights activists believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to have firearms; however, Second Amendment is not an unlimited right to own guns.

With the use of stricter gun control, the rate of suicides has been proven to decrease. Between 2000 and 2010, “Firearm-related suicides accounted for 61% of the gun deaths in the United States” (Desilver). The massive rate of suicides came through the use of guns. A Dec. 2009 study found “general barrier to firearm access created through state regulation can have a significant deterrent effect on male suicide rates in the United States. Permit requirements and bans on sales to minors were the most effective of the regulations analyzed” (Hempstead and Rodriguez). All in all, suicide rates have decreased in states where gun control is strictly enforced.

Through the use of stricter gun control, the amount of gun deaths will reduce drastically. Harsh gun control decreases the amount of shooting related homicides in the United States. Through the requirement for background checks when purchasing firearms and ammunition, gun deaths will drastically decline in the U.S. Through the requirement for background checks when purchasing firearms and ammunition, gun deaths will drastically decline in the U.S. All in all, the gun deaths in the U.S. would decrease through the use of gun control.

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