Gun Control: Hand Guns Gun Control: Hand Guns “Strict gun control” is a set of legal restrictions meant to enforce scarcity of firearms among the citizenry (Stell, 2004). The imposition of gun restrictions are intended to control gun related incidents by making guns harder to possess. Primarily, the main objective of gun laws is to control the kinds of firearms that an individual can purchase. The laws authorizes’ the majority of people to buy and own firearms but at the same time put restrictions on the use and storage of guns.
Based on this perspective, only a smaller number of guns will be accessible to the public and this would in turn mean less criminal activities. As a result, Gun control fails to keep handguns out of the hands of criminals. The United States ranks top among the developed nations in terms of violence among the civilian population. This kind of reputation has been earned partly because incidences of violence associated with handguns (Morrison, 2006). Statistical evidence illustrates that more than 900,000 violent crimes were committed by criminals with handguns in 1992.
This accounted for most of the killings committed that year as well as 13% of all violent crimes. Estimates show that about two million firearms are in the hands of civilians and out of the two million, a third is handguns. A number of these handguns do not cause harm as they are used for purposes as self-defense, hunting, and shooting. Conversely, in cities with the highest crime rates, handguns pose a threat to the lives of many citizens especially in cases in which handguns are in the hands of criminals (Morrison, 2006).
However, in most cases, the reason stringent gun laws are favored and justified is because of the prevailing high rates of crime in the society. For instance, in the year 2002, the number of homicides recorded was more than 16,000 out of which 67% are homicides committed using handguns (Stell, 2004). Apart from street homicides, house- hold assaults associated with hand guns are widely in the media. Evidence shows that in house -holds in which handguns are present, intimate partner violence is more common than in a house-hold in which no handguns are available.
Moreover, when household violence occurs, there is a 12 times greater possibility that death will be the outcome compared to situations in which the given household violence involved other weapons. Even though the laws describe the purchase and ownership of handguns by individuals possessing a restraining order on account of domestic violence, handguns are the most commonly used weapons in intimate partner killings (Vittes & Sorenson, 2008). Primarily, gun control legislation prohibits civilians from owning destructive machines such as machine guns.
For a long time, it has prohibited ex-felons from possessing any form of firearms. Besides, Congress recently decided to put a ban on several other assault rifles. In addition, the law provides regulations on licensed dealers in that they are required by federal law to give notice to the chief enforcement officer within their jurisdiction on any looming sale upon which the official undertakes background checks so as to determine whether or not the sale of the handgun should be made (Morrison, 2006).
Regardless of gun control rules and regulations, the legislation does not prevent criminals from accessing handguns as evidenced by the prevalence of high rates of homicides associated with handguns. For instance, in cities with noted high crime rates such as New York, Washington and Chicago, gun control legislation has not prevented criminals from accessing handguns. These cities have some of the most restrictive gun control regulations compared to the rest of the country, yet they still record the highest rates of violent crimes.
Criminals and other restricted individuals in these cities have found other illegal means of accessing a handgun and there have been greater incidences of crimes in the respective areas (Wright, Daly & Rossi, 1983). Chiefly, violent criminal activities in the society tend to exist independent of gun control legislations. Teenage boy with gun: Easy availability of guns has seen guns in the hands of young people. [pic] Adopted from < http://www. fotosearch. com/photos-images/gun-violence. tml> The Second Amendment of the Constitution grants Americans the privilege to own handguns. Poll results depict that about half of American households own firearms. A study undertaken by the National Institute of Justice in 1995 showed that one out of every five juveniles arrested carried a handgun either all the time or most of the time and 50% reported being shot at least once. Legal measures have been implemented to restrict the accessibility of handguns through licensing, restrictions on purchasing, and enhanced sentences.
However, the legislation has not been as effective as it was anticipated (Kurtz & Turpin, 1999). According to Gold (2004), handguns are readily available to juveniles and similarly to criminals. If minors can lay their hands-on handguns, then it means that it would not be difficult for criminals to have them too in despite of gun control regulations. Advocates for gun control argue that it is through gun restrictions that violent crime incidences will be lower because the reason that the number of firearms accessible will have been minimized.
Gun control advocates assert that when gun control laws are enacted, the number of guns accessible to the public will be fewer hence the probability of criminals accessing them will also be lower. In general, gun control laws allow an insufficient supply of handguns among the public and the lack of guns will form a platform for a decline in violent crimes because fewer people will have guns. However, reports show that even after gun control legislation, an approximate of 70% of the homicides reported involved the use of hand guns (Stell, 2004).
Advocates of gun control legislation also assert that the legislation contributes to the decline in the number of guns accessed by the public. Their reasoning is that a limited purchase of illegal firearms would mean a decrease in the rate of gun related crimes, deterrence to gun trafficking and a decline in general gun crimes. However, loopholes in gun control still exist especially because of “the intransigence of the gun lobby” (Levinson, 2002, p. 810).
For that reason, it is clear that gun control legislation does not greatly reduce access to handguns by criminals and that is why there are still high rates of homicides associated with hand gun use. A number of surveys have been undertaken to measure the relationship linking firearms control and the levels of crime in the society. According to most of these studies, it was evident that a decline in the number of guns accessible to the public resulted to a decline in the number of shootings recorded.
However, this is not absolute evidence to prove that gun control is an efficient measure against crime in the society. That is, gun control laws do not have a direct effect on the number of guns made accessible to the public and therefore do not reduce homicide incidences. In addition, more recent studies on the empirical efficacy of firearms control laws show that the current laws and regulations on firearms control lack much effect in the reduction of the number of murders in which are connected to handguns (Moorehouse & Wanner, 2006).
Generally, studies undertaken in the recent past show that the legislation of firearms control laws lacks any significant effect in reducing deaths associated with handguns hence an indication that legislation of gun control laws does not effectively control gun accessibility by criminals. Results from a study undertaken by Moorehouse and Wanner (2006) indicated that support for gun control laws to reduce crime rates receives enormous support from the political realm. However, from the study, it was found that gun control laws were not effective in reducing the rates of crime in the society.
This was attributed to the fact that high crime rates were recorded even after gun control laws had been legislated. The high crime rates subsequent to gun control legislation are explained via the thought that it is possible that gun laws do not mitigate criminal behavior. That is, despite gun control legislation, criminals’ efforts to have and use handguns are not affected. Therefore, it is possible that although gun control legislation had been implemented, criminals continue to circumvent the law by acquiring firearms through illegal markets or by stealing them from legal owners (Gold, 2004).
The other reason gun control legislation fails to keep handguns from criminals is because of the regulations themselves. The modern gun control laws characteristically seek to influence the process through which one can purchase handguns especially at the point of sale by monitoring approved sellers together with their clients. Several federal backgrounds verifications are often undertaken during the waiting period and registration. However, hand guns are assets that live long thus the possibility of criminals accessing them is high.
In particular, these guns can be distributed down from one generation to another in a given family, they can be torn apart, they can be bought and sold, or they can be handed out to strangers, friends, and acquaintances. For that reason, it is difficult and even impossible for the criminal justice system to restrict and regulate how handguns are handed out among non-dealer individuals or private parties. Generally, suggestions can provide that stringent gun control laws should be implemented, except it may lead to the disarming of law-abiding citizens.
Consequently, such measures would trigger movements on civil rights or liberties with the argument that the public would have been deprived of their right to protect their health, life, and property. The ineffectiveness of gun control laws on increased rates of crime is also attributed to the shortcomings of the law itself. In a study undertaken by Vittes and Sorenson (2008), it was recognized people who have restraining orders are less likely to purchase handguns compared to the rest of the population. However, this does not hinder them from accessing handguns.
The shortcomings of gun control laws make it possible for such people legally to access hand guns. Specifically, persons under restraining orders may successfully apply for handgun purchase. The approval mainly comes after the expiry of the restraining order than before the issuing of the restraining order takes place. Therefore, the absence of procedural specificity makes it possible for criminals of domestic violence to access handguns and thus engage in disastrous criminal activities. Man threatening a woman with a gun: Fatalities resulting from domestic violence often involve handguns. [pic] Adopted from < http://www. otosearch. com/photos-images/gun-violence. html> On the other hand, according to Morrison (1996), the free flow of handguns in the country should not be held responsible for the high rates of violent crimes in the society but rather it is the various channels of accessibility to handguns by criminals that leads to high rates of violent crimes. A first glance at the positive results of gun control legislation gives the impression that gun control laws are effective because they led to a decline in homicides associated with firearms. In reality, the legislation has failed to deter criminals from accessing handguns.
The law itself has loopholes that criminals can use to access handguns. In particular, the law prohibits criminals from possessing any type of firearm stating that they will be subject to additional punishment on top of the punishment they have for the existing crime. However, this is ineffective because such persons already face serious punishment for their crime hence an additional punishment is less likely to prevent them from illegally owning a handgun. The other reason behind the ineffectiveness of firearms control legislation is the issue of gun shows and the Internet.
Private collectors are allowed to sell guns during gun shows and also at flea markets. During such sales, no background checks are undertaken on the buyer hence facilitating the acquisition of handguns by criminal elements. The loophole created by the Internet is like that of gun shows. Guns sold online does not permit for background checks on the buyer thus prohibited purchasers and criminals can easily access them (Levinson, 2002). Therefore, gun control legislation does not effectively prevent criminals from laying their hands-on handguns as it should.
Gun control laws are legislated with the aim of deterring violent crimes by making handguns accessible to viable individuals only. Gun controls contribute to the scarcity of guns in the society but the ambiguities of the regulations make it possible for criminals to access handguns. In one way or the other, criminals have been able to access handguns because the availability of black market guns, passing-on of private guns among families, friends, acquaintances and strangers, complications of the Second Amendment in the Constitution, and other reasons.
Based on this, there is need for the adjustment of gun control laws for instance in relation to domestic violence restraining orders. The legislation should make it easy for interested parties to obtain information on matters such as restraining orders so as to prevent gun related threats and injuries by partners. In addition to stringent gun control laws, political will, availability of resources and public awareness will facilitate for improved and effective gun control laws. References Gold, S. D. (2004). Gun Control: Open for Debate.
New York: Marshall Cavendish Publishers Kurtz, L. R. & Turpin, J. E. (1999). Encyclopedia of violence, peace and conflict, Volume 2. London: Academic Press Levinson, D. (2002). Encyclopedia of crime and punishment, Volume 1. New York: SAGE Publishers Morehouse, J. C. & Winner, B. (2006). Does Gun Control Reduce Crime or Does Crime Increase Gun Control. CATO Journal, Vol. 26 (1), pp. 103- 126. http://search. ebscohost. com. ezproxy. apollolibrary. com Morrison, A. B. (1996). Fundamentals of American Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press, U. S. Stell, L. K. 2004). The production of criminal violence in America: is strict gun control the solution? Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 32. 1, pp. 38-43. Retrieved February 04, 2010, from, http://find. galegroup. com. ezproxy. apollolibrary. com Vittes, K. A. & Sorenson, S. B. (2008). Keeping Guns out of Hands of Abusers: Handgun Purchases and Restraining Orders. American Journal of Public Health. Vol. 98 (5), Pp. 828-833. Retrieved February 4, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global. Wright, J. D. , Daly, K. & Rossi, P. H. (1983). Under the Gun: Weapons, Crime and Violence in America.
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