Should People Own Guns?
Gun control is among the most controversial topics in the United States. Despite it being a public debate for decades, there has been little progress on the issue, with there being a seeming stalemate. On one side of the discussion, people believe they should own guns for their protection. This side of the debate is significantly boosted by the Second Amendment, which offers all American citizens rights to gun ownership. On the other side, proposers of gun control argue for more legislation on gun ownership. Their main argument is supported by the rise in gun violence branching from gun ownership. Of the two sides, the argument that people should not own guns has more grounds based on evidence, as discussed in this document.
Opposes to gun control are protected by the Second Amendment, with nearly a third of American adults owning a firearm. Opposes cite personal protection as a primary reason for owning guns, but studies reveal that Gun ownership is the number one public safety menace. In the United States, there are 120.5 guns for every a hundred people, which are approximately 393,347,000 guns (Hureau, David, and Braga, pg 514). This is the highest per capita total number of firearms in the world. Thirty-five per cent of men own guns and 12 per cent of women adding up to 22 per cent of United States citizens owning one or more guns (Frum, pg 1). Whereas opponents of gun control raise the Second Amendment as a powerful argument for their case, proponents suggest that the amendment was for militias. Gun control laws have always existed, even in the colonial roots, which led to the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment states the necessity of a “well-regulated” militia for the protection of a Free State and that people should bear and keep arms. However, this is not an unlimited gun ownership right (Mavis, pg 85). Mavis(pg 86) also states that similar to a significant number of other rights, the Second Amendment should not be taken as a cast to the prohibitions of possessing firearms that have been longstanding such as by the mentally ill or felons(Mavis, pg 85). Additionally, in 2016 the United States Ninth Court stated that the Second Amendment does not protect people from carrying in public concealed firearms.
People should not own guns because of the alarming statistics on gun violence. Gun violence is a major human rights issue globally, with guns threatening the fundamental human right that is the right to life. Studies reveal that over 500 people die daily due to gun violence across the globe. The main driver of this tragedy is the ease of access to guns. Approximately 44 per cent of all homicides are related to gun violence (Shapira, Harel, and Simon, pg 12). Gun violence significantly undermines the human right to life and health. People living in societies with prevalent rates of gun ownership find it challenging to access healthcare facilities. Additionally, such neighbourhoods are divided by criminal gangs obstructing access to healthcare facilities; the communities are also vulnerable to de facto curfews and closing down of healthcare facilities due to gun violence (Shepperd, pg 617). Healthcare services may also avoid having stations in communities with high gun ownership because of the prevalence of violence and insecurity issues that could cause poor staff retention. Critical support for people leaving violent relationships and domestic violence survivors is lacking in societies with high rates of gun violence (Best, pg 12). The lack of daily security also profoundly impacts the psychological well-being of people in the community.
In 2020, more people succumbed to gun-related violence than during the ’90s(Hureu, David, and Braga, pg 513). The horrific mass shooting on the media provides a case against gun ownership in the United States. Americans use their gun to shoot each other for minor issues like intimidating ex-spouses, backyard barbecues, robbing, and assaults. In 2019 half of the suicides were committed by a gun(Hureau, David, and Braga, pg 514). These issues generally stem from the ease of access that Americans have to firearms. It is challenging to differentiate between the responsible gun owners and the shadowy ones who might use the guns for mischief; hence gun ownership should be restricted.
Whereas people state owning guns for their safety, holding a firearm exposes them and their families to harm. Studies reveal that the firearms bought by people to protect their loved ones end up being used on their loved ones (Shapira, Harel, and Simon, pg 13). The same firearms that parents may buy to protect their children are the same firearms being used by troubled teenagers to execute mass killings in schools. Other guns are stolen by criminals and used for murders and robberies (Brunson, Rod, and Wade, pg 630). Gun control is effective in regulating such instances or when a gun is grabbed out of rage and pointed at a past lover. Research has shown many cases of ordinary disputes escalating to attempted homicides or homicides (Barry, pg 879). For instance, in 2020, a homeowner was reported to have shot a landscaper because of hauling inappropriately his brush to his property. Another case is of a teenager shot by a gun owner because of playing loud music at a motel’s parking lot where they both stayed (Frum, pg 1).
Whereas people state that they have guns for self-protection and protection of property, Science suggests that owning a gun does not make people safer. According to research, about 2.5 million people use guns to defend themselves and their property annually (Schuurman, pg 773). However, the study states that there is no evidence linking guns for protection to a decrease in harm or injury. Some evidence suggests that the use of firearms leads to reduced property loss (Studdert, pg 2221). However, it is equally compelling that using another weapon besides a gun, such as a baseball bat or a mace, also reduces the chances of property loss. There is a lack of sufficient evidence linking the use of guns for protecting the property to reducing the loss risk. Opposes to gun control state that carrying a firearm deters crime, but the evidence suggests otherwise (Shepperd, pg 618). There is no cause-and-effect relationship between the crime rate in the United States and gun prevalence. However, the presence of more guns dramatically increases the violence in crimes. In addition, having guns creates hostile interactions such as robberies and assaults, which are more dangerous.
The lack of gun control laws exposes minority groups to violence. Women in particular need protection from stalkers and domestic abusers who might have guns. In the United States, five women are killed by guns every day. The chances of a woman being murdered in domestic abuse with the presence of a gun rise to 500 per cent(Procon.org, pg 1). Studies reveal that there are more women murdered by an intimate partner with a gun than soldiers killed in the Afghanistan and Iran war during the same period. Additionally, women have an 11.4 more likelihood of being gun homicide victims (Guo and Lei, pg 660). In the United States, 41 states do not require reported domestic abusers to return their guns. 31 states allow misdemeanour stalkers to own guns(Follman, pg 24). This is despite studies revealing that 85 per cent of women who survived an intimate partner’s murder attempt and 76 per cent of women murdered by intimate partners were stalked before the murder attempt (Tracy and Brett, pg 2378).
Another reason people should not own guns because legally owned guns are mostly stolen and used for illegal activities. Studies reveal that almost all guns used for unlawful activities enter circulation through initial legal means (Procon.org, pg 1). There is an annual average of 232,400 guns used for criminal activities stolen from their legitimate owners (Sanchez, pg 2170). Guns are products that can be easily carried and sold for a higher price than their initial costs. As such, people owning guns can promote theft and burglary. Whereas the gun owner with a permit to have the concealed gun might never use the weapon, the burglar who steals the gun might not have the same motives for owning the gun.
Gun control laws will significantly help reduce society’s gun violence cost. Nearly $3 billion is spent annually on hospital and emergency room charges due to gun violence. The American Journal of Public Health states that over $2.7 billion from Medicaid and Medicare has been used in gun-related violence injuries (Follman, pg 23). Eighty-four per cent of the people injured lack insurance covers leaving the bills to taxpayers through programs such as Medicaid. Firearm-related violence costs include legal services, lost earnings, life insurance, psychological costs, perpetrator control, and loss of time and productivity, among others.
To sum up, people should not own guns. The research provided above shows that the ownership of guns does not lead to a safer community but rather more gun violence. Therefore, gun control laws will effectively help curb the growing gun-related problems, including more deaths, mass shootings, gender violence, crime, and increased medical bills due to gun-related violence. Furthermore, owning a gun does not increase safety but rather the chances of injuries or death in interactions with people due to hostility.
Barry, Colleen L., et al. “Public support for gun violence prevention policies among gun owners and non–gun owners in 2017.” American journal of public health 108.7 (2018): 878-881.
Best, Joel. “Guns and the Limits of Numeracy: Review of How America Got Its Guns: A History of the Gun Violence Crisis, by William Briggs.” Numeracy 14.2 (2021): 12.
Brunson, Rod K., and Brian A. Wade. “Oh hell no, we don’t talk to police” Insights on the lack of cooperation in police investigations of urban gun violence.” Criminology & Public Policy 18.3 (2019): 623-648.
Follman, Mark, et al. “The true cost of gun violence in America.” (2018).21-24
Frum, D. (2021, September 1). How to persuade Americans to give up their guns. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/10/responsible-gun-ownership-is-a-lie/619811/
Guo, Lei, et al. “What makes gun violence a (less) prominent issue? A computational analysis of compelling arguments and selective agenda setting.” Mass communication and society 24.5 (2021): 651-675.
Hureau, David M., and Anthony A. Braga. “The trade in tools: The market for illicit guns in high‐risk networks.” Criminology 56.3 (2018): 510-545.
Mavis, Megan B., and Matthew D. Shapiro. “Second Amendment Interpretation and a Critique of the Resistance to Common-Sense Gun Regulation in the Face of Gun Violence: This is America.” W. St. UL Rev. 46 (2019): 85.
Procon.org (2020, August 7). Gun Control. https://gun-control.procon.org/
Sanchez, Carol, et al. “A systematic review of the causes and prevention strategies in reducing gun violence in the United States.” The American Journal of Emergency Medicine 38.10 (2020): 2169-2178.
Schuurman, Bart, et al. “End of the lone wolf: The typology that should not have been.” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 42.8 (2019): 771-778.
Shapira, Harel, and Samantha J. Simon. “Learning to need a gun.” Qualitative Sociology 41.1 (2018): 1-20.
Shepperd, James A., et al. “Gun attitudes on campus: United and divided by safety needs.” The Journal of Social Psychology 158.5 (2018): 616-625.
Studdert, David M., et al. “Handgun ownership and suicide in California.” New England journal of medicine 382.23 (2020): 2220-2229.
Tracy, Brett M., et al. “Community distress predicts youth gun violence.” Journal of pediatric surgery 54.11 (2019): 2375-2381.
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