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Davis 1

Kasey Davis

English 1201

Professor Hellmers

28 October 2017

Gun Control Laws and the Impact They Have on Americans

Fig. 1 The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution Howard I Schwartz Ph.D

In the United States of America, you are guaranteed certain rights as a citizen, per the

Constitution. You are guaranteed a right to free speech. You are guaranteed a right to a speedy

and public trial, and a trial by jury. You are also guaranteed the right to bear arms. The

Constitution states 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. So would putting in place

more, stricter, gun control laws go against this constitutional right as a citizen? More gun control

laws would not reduce crime or keep guns away from criminals, but keep guns out of the hands

of law abiding citizens and prevent them from defending themselves and their homes and

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The second amendment to the Constitution of the United States grants any citizen the

right to own a gun, but gun control supporters believe that it only supports the states right to arm

its military forces, such as National Guard and Reserve units. Opponents of gun control

interpret the Second Amendment as the guarantee of a personal right to keep and bear arms.

They claim that the amendment protects the general public, who were viewed as part of the

general militia at the time of the amendments drafting, as distinguished from the select militia,

which would have been controlled by the state as stated in an article on the Opposing

Viewpoints website. This article also goes on to say that during Americas colonial period, every

household was required to own one gun and every male that was considered old enough to join

the military had to be ready for any type of military emergency that would arise, with his own

weapon. Gun control opponents feel that allowing each household to own a gun, the amendment

simultaneously guaranteed arms for the militia. This also brings up the subject that the term

right of the people in the Second Amendment holds the same meaning as it does in the First

Amendment, which guarantees such individual liberties as the freedom of religion and freedom

of assembly (Gun Control)

Gregory Krieg, a reporter for CNN cites gun control first taking hold in 1934 when

President Franklin D. Roosevelt drafted legislation that would put new taxes and penalties on

machine guns and sawed off shot guns that were used by the likes of Al Capone. In 1938, this

legislation was added onto by Congress. The Federal Firearms Act of 1938 put restrictions on

the interstate guns and ammunition trade. It required, in many cases for the first time, for dealers

to register themselves and keep records of their transactions. (Krieg) More laws were put into

place by President Johnson after the assassinations of President Kennedy in 1963, and Martin

Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, respectively in 1968. President Reagan tried to balance
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stricter gun control laws with protecting gun owners in 1986. Finally, President Clinton

implemented background checks and an assault weapons ban in 1993 and 1994 respectively


Overall fifty five percent of

Americans think that gun control laws

should be stricter, twenty-six percent

believe there should be no change, and

thirteen percent believe that gun

control laws should be less strict

(Guns in America). Chicago is the

perfect example of strict gun control

laws that do not keep gun crimes down.

In his article There is a Problem with

Politics, Not Guns, in the United

States Michael Schaus states that the

Chicago model of unconstitutional

restrictions on keeping and bearing

arms has done little more than add fuel

to the fire. Politicians, meanwhile, have

been more than happy to ignore the

Fig. 2 "Guns in America" Source: Gale Opposing Viewpoints in Context
easily identifiable, but politically

tricky, origins of gang violence and criminal activity. He goes on to state that the reason

Chicago is such a violent city has nothing to do with gun control, but the education system
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having let down the inner city youth, and anti-poverty programs have done little to help those in

need (Schaus).

California is another example where strict gun control laws have not been working in

recent years. In an article for the Sacramento Bee, Phillip Reese and Ryan Lillis state that more

people were killed by guns in 2016, than any year since 2008. This could partly be due to the

rising gun sales across the state. Ever since the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, gun sales

were on the rise due to fear of gun control that may restrict purchasing a firearm (Lillis &

Reese). Although California gun dealers processed 1.3 million gun sales last year, which is a four

hundred fifty thousand increase from 2015, much of the increase in gun related homicides is in

large cities where gun purchases are low (Lillis & Reese). This is because the gun related crimes

are being committed by stolen or borrowed guns, not by a law abiding gun owner (Lillis &

Reese). Some law officials also cite Proposition 47 as a reason for the increase. Proposition 47

was passed in 2014, and reduces many nonviolent drug and/or property crimes from felonies to

misdemeanors (Lillis & Reese).

Michael Cooper, a writer for The New York Times reported in June of 2017 that 30

percent of adults in the United States own a firearm. Of that 30 percent, 60 percent stated they

owned a firearm for protection purposes. This article also states that 25 percent of those gun

owners carry a handgun or small pistol with them outside of their house most if not all of the

time (Cooper). This article also states that there is a partisan divide when it comes to what

people think of gun control laws. Roughly seventy-five percent of people who consider

themselves to be on the democratic, or lean towards the democratic side of the political spectrum

believe that the gun control laws should be stricter, while less than roughly twenty-five percent
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of people who consider themselves to be on the republican, or lean more towards the republican

side of the spectrum believe the same thing (Cooper).

Gun control laws are not only federal, but vary from state to state. In some states, such as

California, someone who is wanting to purchase gun must obtain a permit in order to make the

purchase. In a state such as Ohio, a patron can carry a loaded, concealed gun on their person if

they have a license and the building is not a federal building, or does not have a sign stating no

firearms allowed, posted in an explicit location that is clearly visible. There are gun control laws

that are federal, such as the Gun Control Act in 1968 that banned mail-order sales of all

firearms and ammunition and banned the sale of guns to felons, fugitives from justice, illegal

drug users, the mentally ill, and those dishonorably discharged from the armed forces.. In

1993, Congress passed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act as an amendment to the

Gun Control Act of 1968. The law was named in honor of James Brady, the press secretary to

President Ronald Reagan who suffered a near-fatal wound during an assassination attempt on the

president in 1981. The Brady Act required a five-day waiting period for all handgun sales, during

which a background check was to be made on all prospective purchasers. This provision expired

in 1998 and was replaced by the National Instant Check System (NICS), a database available for

sellers to verify the eligibility of a buyer to possess a firearm.

Within the first three years of the passage of the Brady Act, the FBI reported significant

declines in homicides, robberies, and aggravated assaults involving guns. By 2013, the Brady

Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence reported that the law had prevented over two million

firearms sales to ineligible individuals. Moreover, between 1993, when the laws background

checks were implemented, and 2006, gun-related homicides fell by 32 percent (Gun Control).
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This system does not always prevent gun related incidents. In July of 2012, an gunman named

James Holms walked into a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado during a showing of The Dark

Knight Rises and opened fire, killing twelve people and injuring seventy. He had cleared all of

his background checks and showed no warning signs of being a danger.

Even though there have been quite a few mass shootings in recent years, gun ownership

is down from previous years. According to an article by Ethan McLeod, gun purchases appear

to be slowing since Donald Trump, a gun-rights advocate, was elected president (McLeod). In

October of 2016, a poll showed thirty nine percent of Americans had a gun in their home. This is

down six percent from 2011. The FBI reported that background checks for firearms was down

for the first five months since Trump has been president, compared to the same period a year

before (McLeod). This is believed to be because republicans control the house, senate, and the

white house, meaning there is less fear of more gun restrictions. Currently, Republicans in both

houses of Congress have introduced bills that would force states to recognize concealed-carry

permits granted in other states (McLeod). Currently, there is a patchwork of state gun laws

where all but eleven states and Washington D.C. recognize permits that were obtained in other

states (McLeod).

In an article on the Opposing Viewpoints website, the Richard Epstein states the issues

that can come along with stricter gun control laws, or any other act that requires things such as a

license. In the article Epstein asks whether the gun control advances to fewer murders. Epstein

states that for many people, such as New Yorks Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the answer to this

question rises to an article of faith. (Epstein). Bloomberg states You know, to arm everybody

and have the Wild West all the time is one of the more nonsensical things you can say.... The
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bottom line is if we had fewer guns, we would have a lot fewer murders. (Epstein). Sadly, the

reality to this is not that simple. It is really difficult to design laws and licenses to prevent

dangerous behaviors. Licensing procedures are usually overboard and will result in social losses

by people who abide by those procedures, but people this system targets will try to find a way to

circumvent the system, such as buying a gun from out of state and transporting it across state

lines. It is easier to punish someone after committing a crime, than it is to prevent the crime from

happening at all (Epstein).

An unintended consequence of more gun control laws is that it could shift the ratio of

guns held by law abiding citizens and unlawful citizens to being in favor of the latter (Epstein). If

more guns are in the hands of criminals, rather than law abiding citizens, crime will definitely

increase. If criminals are aware that they will meet less armed resistance, they will commit more

various crimes (Epstein). This can be illustrated in events such as the Virginia Tech and Sandy

Hook Elementary mass shootings. These areas are considered to be gun free, thus putting the

innocent people who work, and go to school there at risk. The perpetrators of these shootings

knew they were going to be met with little, if any resistance, and therefore carried out their

crimes (Epstein).

There are many arguments for and against gun control. An argument for gun control

states that the second amendment is obsolete and outdated and should be amended or eradicated

all together. Some people believe that regardless of the regulated militia guns are only to be

kept for defense against tyranny and attempts by the government to suppress the people (Make

Sure You Know Your Gun Arguments For And Against). Gun control opponents say that a

violation of the second amendment is why that clause was introduced in the first place. This

clause was introduced for the people of the country to protect themselves from any violation of
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civil liberties and freedoms (Make Sure You Know Your Gun Control Arguments For And


Another argument for more gun control is that it will deter criminals and keep gun related

crimes down, but in all reality, that is not the case. A May of 2013 investigation by the Bureau of

Justice Statistics found that thirty four percent of inmates being held by the state for gun related

crimes obtained the weapon from a family member or friend (ProCon.org). This is also shown in

Chicago. Chicago has a ban on gun shops and shooting ranges, but had two thousand eighty nine

shooting victims and three hundred ninety murders in 2014 (ProCon.org). From 2001 until 2012

approximately fifty thousand guns were confiscated by police in Chicago. These guns came from

all fifty states and more than half from outside of Illinois (ProCon.org).

There are many issues surrounding gun violence today, but as it can be seen through

examples of gun free zones and states with strict gun control laws, gun control does not truly,

completely affect crimes committed with guns. A criminal is going to obtain a gun by any means

necessary, whether it is from buying one on the black market, to stealing it. The only thing more

gun control laws will do is keep guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens.
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Works Cited

Cooper, Michael. 8 Figures on Gun Ownership, and Attitudes, in America. The New York

Times, 22 June 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/06/22/us/gun-ownership-survey.html.

Accessed 14 Oct. 2017

Epstein, Richard A. "There Is No Easy Solution to Preventing Gun Violence." Guns and Crime,

edited by Nol Merino, Greenhaven Press, 2015. At Issue. Opposing Viewpoints in



Accessed 10 Nov. 2017. Originally published as "Will Banning Guns Prevent Another

Aurora?" Defining Ideas, 24 July 2012.

Krieg, Gregory. Gun Control in America: How We Got Here. CNN Politics, CNN, 8 July

2016, www.cnn.com/2016/01/07/politics/gun-control-america-history-

timeline/index.html. Accessed 14 Oct. 2017

Lillis Ryan & Reese, Phillip. California's Gun-Related Homicide Rate up, Reversing Years of

Decline. Sacbee, Sacramento Bee, 6 Oct. 2017,

www.sacbee.com/news/local/crime/article177540461.html. Accessed 9 Nov. 2017

McLeod, Ethan. "Gun Control." CQ Researcher, 17 July 2017,

library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqr_ht_gun_control_2017. Accessed 14 Oct. 2017

Schaus, Michael. "There Is a Problem with Politics, Not Guns, in the United States." Gun Violence,

edited by Nol Merino, Greenhaven Press, 2015. Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints in

Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010223269/OVIC?u=dayt30401&xid=1ae594bc.
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Accessed 29 Oct. 2017. Originally published as "Guns Don't Cause Gang ViolenceDemocrats

Do," Townhall, 5 May 2014. Accessed 14 Oct. 2017

Schwartz, Howad I. The Right to Bear Arms: A Right to Conscript Individuals to Military Service in

State Constitutions. Howard I. Schwartz Ph.D., 26 Sept. 2014, www.howardischwartz.com/the-


constitutions/. Accessed 9 Nov. 2017

Gun Control. ProConorg Headlines, 5 Oct. 2017, gun-


GCh3_jATEEAMYAyAAEgLUrfD_BwE. Accessed 14 Oct. 2017

"Guns in America." Gale Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Gale, 2017. Opposing Viewpoints in



Accessed 29 Oct. 2017.

Make Sure You Know Your Gun Arguments For And Against. Gun, gun.laws.com/gun-

control/gun-control-arguments-for-and-against. Accessed 14 Oct. 2017