- Area: Social Sciences
- Program: Political Science
- Type of Writing: Essay (Analytical, Interpretive)
- Course Level: 1000
- Year: 2017
- Paper ID: SS.P.S.E.1.2.7
The Great Debate
Gun control is just one of many different issues facing the United States today; and it is an issue which seemingly has no clear solution. There is an abundance of solutions that will work in an ideal situation. However, the world is far from ideal. An example from one side would be the banning of all guns. Ideally, if all guns are illegal, then nobody will be able to obtain them; and consequently, gun violence is history. It is utterly irrational to believe that will completely solve the problem. Likewise, it is equally as irrational to believe that supplying all citizens with a gun will scare criminals, and eliminate gun violence. What exactly leads people to believe they are 100% right and their opponents are 100% wrong? The fact that everybody experiences and interprets things differently, combined with the excessive pride in the individual that consumes modern Americans. This results in varying opinions and viewpoints across the board, with the belief that “This is how it happened to me, this is how I solved it, so that must be the solution for every person every time.”
Many people believe the constitution was referring to an organized military when it mentions a “well-regulated militia” having the right to bear arms, not those at the individual level having that right. However, many of them also realize how unrealistic it is to enforce that rule. Although, those who advocate for higher restrictions on gun control do believe attacking the problem at its base (the production, sale and subsequent purchase of firearms) is the best approach. President Obama and Vice President Biden put forth a few proposals backed with reasoning as to why they need to be turned into law; none of which suggested the ban of all guns or removal of the second amendment. They argued that the process of obtaining a gun needs to be more extensive and strict. I.e. Universal background checks for every single gun purchaser, a ban on high capacity magazines and military style rifles, extensive education for all who wish to purchase a gun, and registering all guns with the federal government because none of these procedures infringe on the individual’s right to own a gun. It is absurd that those procedures are not already in place. Obama pointed out that the majority of Americans, 70% of members of the National Rifle Association, and even Ronald Reagan (a notorious pro-gun advocate) all agree that these conditions should be implemented. It is simply common sense that a convicted felon, or someone who is mentally unstable should not be able to own a gun. They also proposed prohibition of any unlicensed or private sale/resale of guns because currently, a person can legally obtain a firearm without having to submit to a background check if purchased through a private seller or gun show.
When reading the opinion of the pro-gun advocate, I never got the impression that he was calling for less gun restrictions. Likely due to the fact that there are extraordinarily few restrictions currently in place. He was making the argument that more people should take advantage of the accessibility to firearms, so they can protect themselves when needed, and hopefully deter people from committing crimes in the first place out of fear that their target can, and will defend themselves from the threat. The primary reason for believing in this method versus the previous one proposed by the former president is that legislation will not stop these criminals, because they have no regard for law in the first place. Similarly, he states that they will still find guns, and even if they couldn’t find guns, they would pursue alternate methods like homemade bombs. He states that there are already 300 million guns in the United States, so “guns are already among us” and it is “too late” to impose any sort of regulations. I strongly disagree with this argument because he is implying that it’s not even worth our time to implement any sort of regulations because he believes it will not have a significant enough effect. To believe “the problem is already here, so just deal with it as it comes,” or “it won’t do enough, so don’t waste your time” is an incredible detrimental mentality; as opposed to attempting to solve the problem and prevent it from reoccurring, or a law which saves only one life is still a law which is necessary. He also makes multiple statements which discredit his own argument. Like ones where he condemns the idea of banning guns, or when he states that more people should be allowed to carry guns. They discredit his argument for two reasons: First, completely outlawing guns is not the goal of his opposition. Second, suggesting that more people should be allowed to own guns carries no merit because those people are already allowed to own guns; they simply choose not to. Another ineffective argument he makes is that guns should be allowed on college campuses, so students are able to protect themselves in case of a campus shooting. He shoots himself in the foot when he mentions the fact that one of his interviewees told him college campuses, which almost universally ban guns on campus, are incredibly safe; their violent crime rate is a fraction of the rest of the United States; and, because of the copious amounts of drugs, alcohol, mental illness, and impulsive behavior of college students, the implementing of even licensed guns could have a disastrous effect.
Mass tragedies like the ones that continuously affect the United States can absolutely be prevented. There are many different theories as to how we should go about that prevention, so it is time to start implementing them. However, there is no perfect solution. That is why representatives from each party involved must work together to find common ground, and put it to work. Because not everything will work as planned, those representatives must also be diligent in their analysis of solutions, so they can detect those aspects which are failing and tweak them until they are effective, or try a new policy in place. Completely discarding everything, starting from scratch, and implementing an entire new policy when one small thing doesn’t work right should never be the strategy. Scientists don’t discredit entire theories when one thing doesn’t add up right, just like companies don’t discontinue a product when it doesn’t work right. The individuals analyze their process, detect and subsequently fix the error, and release an improved version of the product or theory.
Although some areas with strict gun control still have incredibly high rates of gun violence, many areas do not follow that pattern. Likewise, many areas with loose gun laws have high rates of violence, but of course there are some which are very loose and still very peaceful. There are exceptions to every rule. However, when referring to places like Chicago, I believe the ability of its citizens to obtain guns, despite the strict laws, can still be attributed to how easily it is to obtain guns outside of that circumstance. For example: Any convicted felon can still drive out of Chicago, legally obtain a gun through another private individual, or at a gun show, and return home within the span of a few hours. I believe if the entire state of Illinois were to strengthen their laws, along with its neighboring states, the amount of gun violence in Chicago would decrease. Imagine if somebody took candy from their child as punishment, but all the other houses in the neighborhood had copious amounts of candy, and no restriction. The child would walk next door, eat some candy, and be on their merry way. However, if the entire neighborhood was participating, the child would have a substantially harder time obtaining candy, and would likely not desire it enough to trek to another neighborhood.
I believe the second amendment is properly understood, but improperly applied in the United States today. The founding fathers did mean that every individual had the right to own a firearm, and defend themselves. However, circumstances were very different back in the 1700’s. When the second amendment was written, many people had to hunt their own food, make their own clothes and make their own tools. Many people lived in rural areas and had to constantly be wary of predatory wildlife endangering their crops, livestock, family, and themselves. So, possession of a gun was imperative to survival. Also, the most advanced guns were very inaccurate unless the shooter was within a few feet of the target, they could only fire one round at a time, and took minutes to reload. So, if somebody had the intention of going on a killing spree, it is likely they would miss their target, and be subdued before they even finished reloading one time. In the extremely rare scenario where the suspect was good enough to hit intended targets, and nobody attempted to stop them, it would still take hours, if not days, to kill and wound over 500 people; something which was accomplished in minutes, just weeks ago in Las Vegas. Not to mention the fact that it would be theoretically impossible to hit anything from the range the Las Vegas shooter was at, if using a gun in the 1700’s. With that being said, it is highly unlikely the authors of the second amendment even knew what a mass shooting was. However, developments in technology have drastically changed all of that. Now, the amount of skill required to shoot and hit a target, which was once very high, has been all but eliminated. Modern guns are extremely accurate, can be fully automatic, can have basically bottomless magazines, and can hit targets from over a mile away. Astronomically, increasing the amount of damage a single person can do. Also, the threat of predatory wildlife is very minimal, even to those in rural areas; and if somebody needs food, clothing, or tools, they simply travel to the nearest store which supplies them. This caused the need for owning a gun to become virtually nonexistent.
In conclusion, I believe the argument for gun control was more effective than that of the opposing view for a few reasons. First, the argument for less restrictions is basically weightless due to how few regulations are currently in place. Second, the argument against gun control repeatedly stated how he encourages things like background checks, education and training, and more citizens to be able to carry guns “when combined with stringent gun regulation.” In other words, he is not opposed to gun control as long as guns are not banned completely. Finally, he repeatedly argued against the banning of guns, which is not issue. The issue is whether the process of obtaining a gun needs to be more thorough. It’s almost as if he was just saying whatever he could appeal to his side and to twist the words of, and subsequently counter the statements of the individual he was interviewing, regardless of whether it ultimately countered his initial claim, and regardless of how relevant the statement was to the actual issue at hand.
Keywords: gun control