02 Nov 2017
AP Government and Politics
Crimes are happening in our country every day. With crime comes weapon usage leading us to the long debate this country is having over whether or not to have stricter gun control laws. With recent gun violence, the government is trying to make stricter laws on how to obtain a gun legally. This debate has been going on for many years now because there is no agreeing on this topic. Some people agree that there should be stricter laws on guns and they would feel safer with them. Then, there are those who own guns and are arguing that it is there right from the 2nd amendment to own a gun and should have any one limiting them. Gun control laws, are something that people are either going to be for it or against it.
Gun owners are everywhere. There are about 80 million Americans that own more than 223 million guns. Some people own them to feel safe and to be able to protect themselves. Then, you have people who own them because they enjoy going out and hunting and killing animals to eat. People have many different reasons as to why they own a gun. Then there are the people who believe in not owning guns and believe it is dangerous to own guns. Gun owners believe that they need these guns in order to protect themselves and feel it is taking away their rights as an American if they are no longer allowed to own certain ones or are limited on owner a certain amount. It is also argued that people shouldnâ€™t be allowed to own certain guns and an amount of certain because of how much violence is going on today. They believe restricting gun ownership will stop this country from having so much gun violence. Each person has their own opinion on guns and their laws.
When going to buy a gun today from a federally licensed dealer, it is required from the dealer to run a background check on the person that is buying the gun. The dealer submits the name of the buyer to the federal database. This database consists of people who have criminal records and mental health records that are provided by the federal and state courts and agencies. (Martinez) Most states have been adding their own categories to the list of items that block people from getting a firearm. Convicted felons, people convicted of violent domestic crimes, and those determined by the courts to be dangerously mentally ill are those on the list to not be able to own a gun. (Martinez) For an example, in California, anyone convicted of any kind of violent crime, drug offenses, alcohol abuse and juvenile offenses while underage are blocked also from buying a gun. (Martinez) The only state to not have such laws is Vermont. (Martinez) From when back ground checks were first started because of the Brady Act on March 1, 1994, through the end of 2008, the federal government has processed more than 97 million applications for gun transfers or permits. Out of those 97 million, 1.8 million were denied. (Martinez)
When buying a gun, you go through a background check. It is a US law that you have to have a background check if you are trying to buy a firearm from a federally licensed dealer. (Martinez) When making a "private transaction", such as a gun shows purchase, federal law does not require a background check for these sales. Also different states have their own statues requiring background checks for these "private transaction." Gun control supporters have been suggesting having these "universal background checks" when buying a firearm. This "universal background check" is something that will close all loopholes on checks at gun shows and other private sales. (Martinez) This new idea is being supported by a survivor of gun violence, Gabrielle Giffordâ€™s, who is a gun owner herself. (Martinez) This new check is also being considered for possible legislation by a White House task force led by Vice President Joe Biden. (Martinez) The task force is expected to include universal background checks as part of its recommended legislation. (Martinez) The president of the National Rifle Association, David Keene, was reported on saying that he favors background checks that will block people who are or may be mentally ill or potentially violent from buying any kind of guns. The only problem with this is that most states do not release the names of the people who have been labeled as being dangerously mentally ill. It is said that forty percent of all firearms that are purchased in the United States are sold without background checks. (Martinez) This is because they are not bought from a federally licensed firearms dealer. (Martinez)
Other countries other than the United States have stricter laws on gun ownership. In Japan, guns are a very rare thing. In 2011 guns where used in only seven murders and this nation has about 130 million people living in it. (Talmadge) According to certain sources police have said that there were more people killed by scissors than by guns. (Talmadge) Gun violence may be low, but there are more than 120,000 registered gun owners and more than 400,000 registered firearms. (Talmadge) Anyone who wants to get a gun must have a valid reason as to why they should be allowed to. (Talmadge) Under longstanding Japanese policy, there is no good reason why any civilian should have a handgun, so aside from a few dozen accomplished competitive shooters, they are completely banned. (Talmadge) Rifle ownership is allowed for the general public, but it is very controlled. The police must know where you keep your gun and it must be kept under lock and key. (Talmadge) Applicants first must go to their local police station and declare that they would like to own a gun, and after a lecture and a written test, you then go to a training range and then a background check. (Talmadge) Police will likely even talk to the applicants neighbors to see if the person is known to have a temper, financial troubles, or an unstable household. (Talmadge) Also, a doctor must sign a form saying that the person has not been institutionalized and is not epileptic, depressed, schizophrenic, alcoholic, or addicted to drugs. (Talmadge) With such a thorough process to get a gun and banning certain guns, this countryâ€™s crime rate is way down.
In Brazil, a country with extremely strict gun laws, they top the global list for the most gun murders. To own a gun in Brazil, you have to be police, people in high risk professions and those who can prove their lives are threatened are eligible to receive a gun permit. (Talmadge) Anyone who is caught with a gun and does not have a permit can face up to four years in prison. According to a 2011 study by UN office on drugs and crime, 34,678 people were murderers by firearms in Brazil in 2008, compared to 34,147 in 2007. (Talmadge)The numbers for both years represent a homicide-by-firearm rate of 18 per 100,000 inhabitants, which is more than five times higher than the US rate. (Talmadge) Cities such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janerio are slums and are dominated by powerful drug gangs, who often better arm themselves than the police. (Talmadge) In Brazil you can hardly get a gun license, yet it has one of the top gun murder rates in the nation. This country shows that having such strict laws might not help.
In the United State some states have stricter gun laws. For example, in Virginia they have stricter background checks. Their background checks went from 243,251 in 2006 to 420,829 in 2011. Also in 2006 there were 23,431 violent crimes in Virginia, and that dropped to 18,196 in 2011. Hand gun purchases increased 112% between 2006 and 2011, and violent crimes that were committed by people using handguns dropped by 22%. This state is an example that people are using in order to persuade others because this state shows how a state with stricter laws can work.
Politicians have been debating over guns for years now and one key part of the debate is that mental illness and video games play into the violence in todayâ€™s society. Video games that kids play today are graphic and violent and give kids idea. It has been debatable because kids have such graphically detailed video games at hand to play, that they get in their head that it is ok to kill or shoot people. Mental illness is also a factor that people believe should be factored in. it has been known that when mass shootings happen, the gun man is later to be diagnosed as being mentally ill. People have done studies that show that most people who cause these public mass shootings and cause so much violence at one time, are mentally ill, and people believe this is what leads them to do what they do. Many factors play into people using guns for the wrong thing. Mental illness and video games is one of the top factors that are being brought up and debated about.
Mass shooting in our country today is not rare. One of the most recent shootings that have happened was the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting. On December 14, 2012 around 9:30 am, Adam Lanza forced himself in Sandy Hook Elementary. He then took out his gun and opened fire on the students and the faculty. That day, he killed 20 students and 6 faculty members. He also killed his mother back at his home, and in the end, killed himself. When Adam entered the school, he had with him 3 weapons and multiple rounds of ammunition. The 3 guns that he was carrying that day were, .9mm Sig Sauer, 10mm Glock, and Bushmaster .223 semi-automatic rifle. These guns that he had were owned by his mother. It later came out that he was believed to of had Aspergerâ€™s Syndrome, and according to his brother, he is also said to have many other mental health issues. He was also said to of played very violent and graphic video games. Some believe that his mental health and seeing such graphic videos led to him cracking and shooting the school and the people in it. Others say that had nothing to do with it. Medical researchers have been proven that mental illnesses have led toward more violent behavior than others. Todayâ€™s society, is exposed to violence more often that before.
In Aurora, Colorado, James Holmes opened fire on a movie theater with over 100 people in it. Since then, he has been arrested. Many key items have been coming out about him and mental illnesses. It has been said that before the shooting, he went to see 3 mental health professionals at the University of Colorado. Now during the trial, Holmes and his legal team have said to the judge that their client, Holmes, has a mental illness. They plan on using this as there defense on why he did what he did. This case shows how someone with a mental illness reacted in a violent manner.
When it comes to stricter gun laws, they may work some, but it is shown that most people get guns illegally. This information shows that even with stricter gun laws, people will still be able to get guns; they will just no longer do it legally. They are going to have to resort to doing it illegally. Most violence happens with guns that are stolen and not obtained legally. For example, the Thurston High School shooting, Kipland P. Kinkel was found with a gun in his locker and was expelled. He then at home, killed both his parents and then moved on to the high school. At the school, he opened fire and killed two students and injured 25 people. In the end, five students had to wrestle him down in order to get him to stop. He was then arrested. Kipland did not get his guns legally, he was not old enough. He stole it from his father. This is an example of how people who want to commit violent crimes will get their hands on a weapon whether it is legally or illegally. It also shows how easily it is to get a weapon.
One of the worst school shooting the United States has had happened was the Columbine High School massacre. On April 20, 1999, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris went into the school and killed 13 people and wounded 23 more. The two gunmen were dresses in trench coats and had an original plan of two propane bombs inside the school did not go off. They had originally planned to have the bombs go off killing hundreds and sending the survivors outside into their line of fire. When that didnâ€™t end up happening they began shooting outside and they then went inside of the schoolâ€™s cafeteria and opened rounds. In less than 16 minutes they had both killed 12 fellow students and staff and wounded 23 more people. A little more than half an hour late, the two teens shot themselves and committed suicide. This was announced as the worst school shooting in the U.S. up until the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007. This shooting started up a debate on gun control and school safety. Violent video games and music were blamed for influencing the killers. The shooters got their guns by purchasing them through someone. That person was later sentenced to six years in prison for this action. After this massacre, many schools have enacted "zero tolerance" rules regarding disruptive behavior and threats of violence from students. (Columbine High School massacre )
Certain weapons are being talked about. The one weapon that keeps coming up is the semiautomatic pistols and rifles. In the above chart you can see the top weapons used in shootings. The one that is used the most is the semiautomatic handgun. The second most popular weapon is assault weapons. Most shootings that have happened are occurred using a semiautomatic gun. Some examples are, Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The gunman had a .223 caliber semiautomatic rifle. The Virginia tech massacre also had a gunman with a p22 semiautomatic pistol. Also when Michael Page killed six and wounded four at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, he used a semiautomatic Springfield 9 mm pistol. In 1994, congress and president bill Clinton signed on to the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that semiautomatic were to be banned for a decade. (semiautomatic weapons used in Aurora, Tucson, Virginia Tech, Newtown Connecticut shootings ) This lasted up until 2004 when it expired under George W. Bushâ€™s presidency. (semiautomatic weapons used in Aurora, Tucson, Virginia Tech, Newtown Connecticut shootings )There has been no resurrection of this ban since then.
In a recent online question and answer session, the vice president, Joe Biden, answered questions on guns and gun laws. (Ariosto) He was asked about people being able to defend themselves. He said,
"You donâ€™t need an AR-15, itâ€™s harder to aim. Itâ€™s harder to use. And, in fact, you donâ€™t need 30 rounds to protect yourself. Buy a shotgun." He also said that he told his wife, "I said, Jill, if thereâ€™s ever a problem just walk out on the balcony here â€¦ put that double-barreled shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house." (Ariosto)
The following chart shows just a few of the people in law making who would willing reveal whether or not they owned a gun or not. From the people who would, one hundred and nineteen republicans said they owned a gun or guns. (Singer) Forty six democrats said they too own a gun. (Singer) People have argued that with so many politicians owning guns themselves, they should be fighting for taking away guns. It is also shown that more republicans are fighting for not having more gun laws. Many people are saying that this is because so many of them themselves own guns. This survey is following President Obama trying to push congress to draft gun legislation. (Singer) The opinions of law makers are results of whether they believe in owning a gun or not.
The talk of gun and their laws have been going on for many years now. It becomes popular and then something more popular comes up. Gun control debate is something that is always talked about whenever a shooting or some violent crime has happened. The most recent crime to cause such a big debate over gun laws was the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. This shooting was announced as one of the worst crimes we have seen. This brought up the talk of gun control. When it comes to gun laws there will be no resolution because there are too many different opinions. When shootings happen are crimes happen the debate becomes popular again and becomes recently important. Guns are a popular ting in this country and whether people agree on having stricter laws on them or not, guns will always be talked about when it comes to safety. Whether this country bans them or not crime is going to happen. Crime happens every day. Guns will be talked about for forever.
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