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Sample Essay: Gun Control
Historically, guns have become a significant part of American culture. Since the American nation won its independence, guns have been constantly present in the movies and news. As a result, for every hundred people in the U.S there are currently 89 guns (Beck 16). Moreover, if to add the amount of illegal firearms in the country, the figure would be much bigger. Americans keep almost half of all the civilian-owned weapons in the world. However, more guns do not mean less crime, and the existing gun laws are just too lax to control this ever-growing obsession. In addition, visitors from other countries, tourists, and international students cannot legally obtain and carry a weapon; therefore, they do not feel safe. Moreover, they become the perfect victims for criminals, who are fully aware that foreigners do not own guns and cannot protect themselves. The government, along with the citizens, has to choose safety and common sense over a business interest, and tighten gun control laws to make everyone in the society feel safe.
When citizens from other countries visit the United States, American gun laws and this whole cultural experience seems to them extremely foreign. This is the reason why visitors feel less safe in America – because of the widespread private gun ownership.
Foreign students and other temporary visitors cannot either purchase or carry a handgun. It puts them into a position which is not fair, and it contradicts the main argument that the pro-gun activists use. Allegedly, more guns lead to less crime, because criminals will think twice before approaching their victims if there is a possibility that this victim is carrying a handgun. In this case, a criminal will easily attack an international student with no doubts at all, because he will be sure that the student does not and cannot carry a lethal weapon. It is even more frightening with all the attempts to allow students to carry concealed guns on campus. Supposedly, it would eliminate the possibility of more killing sprees happening. Presently, 21 states banned carry of concealed weapons on campus, seven states allowed it, and 22 states leave this decision to each college or university (Wilcox and Bruce 18). Not so long ago, NRA claimed that there should be areas where no guns would be allowed. College campuses were among such areas. However, as the time goes by, priorities change, and gun lobbyists push further. Recent killing sprees have sparked a new wave of students’ movement for concealed carry on campuses. Nonetheless, students are not people who make the most rational decisions of all. Drunk fights would easily turn to bloodshed, bruises and scratches - to lethal injuries, arguments about a girl or a parking spot - to shootouts. Guns could easily be lost, taken away, or simply stolen from the dorm rooms, and it would add up to this messy situation. Overall, this American way of dealing with guns and these obsessive wishes to keep and carry them are foreign and rather frightening to a visitor, who is a stranger to the American culture.
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As for 2013, all 50 states permitted carrying a concealed firearm in public (Beck 14). Illinois became the last state to pass the legislation of concealed carry. Gun owners in most of the states are required a permit; however some states do not require permits at all. There are four categories of state regulations on this matter. The first one is “no-issue”. It forbids people from carrying concealed handguns altogether. The second category is “may-issue”, and it gives concealed carry permits at the decision of local authorities. The third is “shall-issue”. To obtain a permit in this case, a person has to meet definite requirements, for example to be of certain age, have no felony conviction, and be mentally healthy. There is also the fourth category. It does not require any permits to bear a concealed gun whatsoever. Overall, the United States is one of the easiest democratic countries to obtain and carry a firearm, and, as a result, Americans are the most civilian-armed nation in the world (Doeden 21).
History of gun control in the country started over two hundred years ago. Kentucky and Louisiana enacted the first regulations prohibiting the concealed carry of deadly weapons in 1813 (Zimring 723). By 1850, most Southern states did the same, trying to reduce high homicide rates. In the 1880s, this tendency spread over other states (Zimring 723). At the beginning of XX century, gun control switched to the federal level. Later on, the federal government began regulating weapon ownership with the National Firearms Act in 1934 and the Federal Firearms Act in 1938 (Zimring 723). Intensive promoting of state legislators by the National Rifle Association increased the number of shall-issue states from nine in 1987 to 30 in 2000 (Zimring 724). However, federal law puts restrictions on those who may purchase a firearm. Drug users, fugitives, illegal aliens, convicted felons, and some others are prohibited from possessing or purchasing guns. It is also a felony to consciously sell or transfer firearms in any way to ineligible persons (Zimring 721). Studies display that the states which add little to none to federal laws and have excessive amounts of people possessing firearms also have the tallest firearm death rates in the country. States with the tallest gun death rates are Wyoming, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Alaska. These states also have lax gun laws. This pattern repeats itself year after year (Jacobs 53). Some argue that the crime rate decreased in the states where gun ownership rates grew (Lott 94). This theory is nothing but a speculation. Crime rate decreased all throughout the country, and that is connected mainly with the growth of the economy. Crime rate in the states which do not support “shall-issue” policy fell twice as much as in those which do support it. In total, over 20,000 legislative acts control possessing, purchasing, and carrying firearms in the United States, which makes it the most regulated industry in the country (Lott 41). These acts have a cumulative nature, therefore becoming stricter over time. Both the government and citizens have to control this area thoroughly, as weapons are highly dangerous, and in the end, they serve only deadly purposes.
However, firearms that people buy for protection provide a sense of security, even if never fired at a criminal. A homeowner can scare off a robber, a mugger, or a rapist without firing his gun. Wilcox and Bruce tell in their studies that Americans use guns to defend themselves and their families over 2.5 million times per year, protecting their life and property (34). National Institute of Justice conducted the national survey in 2011, and found that there were approximately 1.5 million gun uses for self-defense every year (Beck 17). These surveys reveal that there were more defensive uses of firearms than crimes committed with them. Allegedly, criminals will always find a way to get a gun. National Opinion Research Center conducted a study in 2011 to prove that 59 out of 100 people who carry a gun do that to feel safer (Wilcox and Bruce 35). Moreover, a person carrying a concealed handgun has a chance to stop a public shooting spree before more people get hurt. Nevertheless, a public shootout between the armed people is probable to cause massive collateral and lead to even more death and injuries. The task and purpose of gun control laws are to prevent shooters from getting access to weapons, not to give people more guns. This solution is inarguably the most reliable and efficient way of stopping gun violence. Yes, gun laws alone will not stop all these shootings right away, but they will have the effect needed in the long run.
There is no denying that the United States has a violent crime problem. Property crime rates, on one hand, are not much different from those in Australia or Britain (Jacobs 31). The violent crime rate, on the other hand, is much higher. Demands for a more severe gun control come not from gun-inflicted suicides or accidents. Violent crime is what makes a big social problem out of a firearm possession. The United States, if compared to other democratic countries, has more violent crime. Of course, there are many reasons that would explain this fact. For instance, the slavery legacy, income inequality, racial oppression and so on.
Nevertheless, if guns are not the main reason, they surely add to this issue, making it so much graver. Even if guns do not cause the crime, the possibility of injury or even death is much higher when they are involved. When bullets hit the target, the damage is greater than that from knife wounds. In addition, allowing people with no appropriate training to carry handguns in public puts everyone around at risk of being injured or killed. When it comes to densely populated cities, crowded stadiums, and subways, the situation becomes even more dangerous. The presence of a firearm quickly escalates an argument to a homicide. In cases of domestic violence, a woman is 500% more apt to get an injury or die if there is a gun in the household (Wilcox and Bruce 55). In 2008, Obama, still a senator at that time, was quoted saying, “I am not in favor of concealed weapons. I think that creates a potential atmosphere where more innocent people could (get shot during) altercations” (Wereschagin and Brown 25). Not only guns are the quickest, the easiest, and, sometimes, the safest way to kill people; they also give the possibility to massacre large numbers of people at the same time. The simplicity of seizing people’s lives with a gun brings to life the obsession of a god-like person, that adds up to even more casualties. Sure thing, guns or no guns, people would still find a way to kill each other, but it would surely be more difficult. It is not a coincidence that mass murderers use guns much more often than knives; guns are just the most efficient way to kill a person without even approaching too close. In addition, even without statistical data to prove the point that guns logically cannot make anyone safer in the first place, the basic mechanics of shooting contradicts any possibility of safety. Shootings are hectic, and if more than one person carries a gun, there is a very real possibility of crossfire - everybody would randomly shoot at others, and it would be virtually impossible to determine the original shooter and the guilty party. As it always happens in crossfires, bullets would likely hit civilians, and there would be yet more casualties because of that. Thus, giving weapons to everyone is dangerous and reckless, as not everyone has a cold head, and those who do may not have the appropriate training and cause more harm trying to protect themselves or others. Gun control is a necessary measure of restriction that will gradually reduce the number of gun crimes. It will not prevent all gun deaths, of course, but the numbers are just too high, and the government must deal with this situation. Gun control is designed to do that by just restricting access to guns, forcing obligatory gun registration, and penalizing illegal firearms harshly. If there is no easy access to guns and carrying them is illegal, the total amount of gun crimes will inevitably decrease. Overall, issuing more guns for the sake of stopping gun crimes and protecting people from gunshots is not the best way to deal with this situation. The number of handguns currently in possession of civilian citizens is unprecedented. Nonetheless, it continues to grow.
Keeping and bearing guns is an essential part of American culture. Historically, every state had to sustain its armed force to protect national security. There are more handguns in the possession of civilians in the United States than in any other country of the world. Temporary visitors do not have any right to obtain, possess, and carry a gun. It puts them into an unfavorable situation, compared to other Americans. Government and citizens have to monitor and control the situation. Firearms are not only the instruments for protecting yourself, but, first of all, deadly weapons. Strict gun control and efficient gun laws provide the only reasonable way to keep this problem at bay. Permits to buy and carry firearms have to be firmly regulated by state and federal laws. American nation has outgrown the wild west civilization and built the most modern, powerful, and efficient society on the planet. It is not the time for people to go back to the medieval times, when everybody needed to have a gun in order to survive.
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