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For a number of years, gun control has been a debatable issue in many countries, including the United States. Many countries have implemented gun control laws to regulate or restrict the manufacture, purchase, and possession of handguns and rifles through various requirements, including licensing, registration, and identification (Woods, 2005). The possession of guns has been a controversial issue in the United States. Some people argue that the possession of guns will reduce the rates of criminal incidents.
On the other hand, other groups, such as Handgun Control Incorporated (HCI) argue that the possession of guns enhances individuals to commit various criminal offenses, including robbery, murder, and burglary among others. Some of the gun control laws include the Gun Control Act (GCA) of 1968 and the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934. The federal laws make the process of acquiring guns among the civilians extremely hectic. National Rifle Association (NRA) has led gun rights groups, which argue that the proposals and various laws have infringed on the law-abiding citizens’ constitutional rights (Brown & Abel, 2003).
Another anti-gun control lobby includes the Gun Owners of America (GOA). The gun-rights groups contend that banning the sale and possession of guns has not been effective in addressing violent crimes. These lobbyists assert that the acquisition of guns can be possible from a variety of sources including black markets or stealing guns from registered gun owners. This paper will consider the creation of stricter laws on gun control, as well as the comparison of both sides on the argument between the NRA and anti-gun control groups.
Creation of Stricter Laws on Gun Control
The managerial approach is among the best approaches that the federal government should take when addressing gun ownership and gun control (Goss, 2009). This approach ensures the presence of clearly defined regulations and rules for acquiring and maintaining guns in the United States. Individuals should abide by the requirements of gun control laws. The gun control and ownership laws are applicable to every civilian equally. Many states prefer restrictions on the possession and use of guns to save lives and maintain order across the world (Brown & Abel, 2003).
Restricting firearms among civilians will enforce gun safety and minimize gun trafficking. The federal government has the responsibility to regulate the restriction of guns in the United States. Moreover, several laws have been available to assist with the regulation of the acquisition and possession of firearms. The most common federal laws include the Gun Control Act (GCA) of 1968 and the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934 (Woods, 2005).
These laws have regulated the acquisition and possession through background checks, restrictions on purchase ages, and registration. These are some of the most common gun control techniques that the federal government of the United States uses to regulate the purchase and possession of guns among the citizens.
Determine the Criminal History
Background checks have been necessary to determine the criminal history of the potential buyers of guns (Woods, 2005). The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) manages the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which checks the prospective buyers’ names against the state or federal criminal records. Various categories of people, such as illegal immigrants, mentally incompetent, individuals convicted of felonies, individuals with domestic violence restraining orders against them, among others. Individuals with criminal records, as well as suffering from mental health problems, have a high likelihood of engaging in criminal activities (Brown & Abel, 2003).
Guns and other sophisticated weapons can enable people to accomplish various criminal activities easily and within a short time. Maintenance of weapons requires the registered gun owners to keep their background checks up to date every year. Background checks should provide individuals with high-security clearance. Thus, this requires the gun owners to pay some amount of money in order to prevent unnecessary issuance of licenses. This can decrease massacres and fatalities like what took place in Tucson, Arizona. Therefore, it is advisable to sell guns to those individuals with normal mental health and who do not have criminal records (Brown & Abel, 2003).
Restriction on Purchase Ages
Restriction on purchase ages is another technique that the state and federal governments use to reduce criminal offenses (Stell, 2004). Federal laws have imposed minimum age requirements regarding the purchase and possession of guns to hinder many children from possessing guns. This will lead to the reduced rates of unintentional shootings, homicides, and suicides, among children. Research shows that in the United States, about twenty young people, including children die every day as a result of gunshots (Stell, 2004).
The deaths take place as a result of unintentional shootings, homicides, or suicides, among children. Unintentional shootings occur among children under the age of 15 while most of the homicides and suicides occur among adolescents. Adolescents experience problems with decision-making and control of their behaviors and actions because of their developmental stage (Woods, 2005).
Therefore, the federal law has prohibited the dealers of firearms from delivering shotguns and ammunition for it to a person under the age of eighteen years. The federal law has prohibited dealers from delivering handguns and ammunition for handguns to individuals, who have not attained the age of twenty-one years. However, the federal law has not provided a minimum age limit for purchasing and possessing long guns or ammunition for the long guns. Regulation and rules, regarding the age limit appropriate for firearm possession, vary from one state to another (Goss, 2009).
Some states do not allow the eighteen-year-old civilians to acquire pistols that do not have shoulder straps. Civilians should attain the age of twenty-one years to possess and use guns without shoulder straps. The level of judgment and responsibility among people differs between the eighteen-year-old and the twenty-one-year-old individuals. Mortality rates will decrease significantly upon increasing the age limit of gun ownership. The federal and state governments do not incur any cost to raise the age limit (Brown & Abel, 2003).
Registration of Firearms before Possession
Another significant gun control technique includes registration of firearms before possession. In most cases, the federal government does not have laws that require individuals to register their firearms. However, the National Firearms Act (NFA) requires individuals to possess various weapons including mortars, grenades, short-barreled shotguns, machine guns, silencers, and short-barreled rifles after registration (Goss, 2009). Registration of firearms involves identification of the firearm, identification, and address of the purchaser, and date of registration. A person can be able to transfer NFA guns to another person upon applying to the Bureau of firearms, alcohol, and tobacco (Goss, 2009).
The transfer of NFA guns also requires a person to provide a photo, tax, and fingerprint card. Beyond the NFA weapons, purchasing a gun from Federal Firearms licensed dealers, requires the buyers to undergo federal background checks, as well as filling out Firearms Transaction Records. Although many states do not have federal laws that require individuals to possess registered guns, some states require citizens to possess registered firearms. The GCA of 1968 prohibits the interstate acquisition of firearms and mail-order sales, prohibits the transfer of firearms to minors, and sets forth licensing requirements for manufacturers, and importers of firearms (Woods, 2005). This law has also been useful in limiting access to assault weapons, as well as setting forth penalties.
Handgun Control Incorporated (HCI)
Handgun Control Incorporated (HCI) is another gun control group, which does not support the acquisition and possession of guns among civilians without strict gun control laws (Goss, 2009). This group argues that people will experience increased injuries, deaths, and other criminal offenses when the number of people with guns rises. HCI is against the Second Amendment, which supports the rights of civilians to acquire and possess guns for personal safety. This group has a variety of thoughts regarding the original purpose and intent of the Second Amendment. In the adoption of the United States Constitution, each state had its own part-time soldiers commonly called militia. The members of the militia engaged in training, militia exercises, and passion for guns for self-protection.
Furthermore, HCI asserts that the Second Amendment does not allow civilians the right to acquire and possess guns (Woods, 2005). According to this group, the Second Amendment includes the right to possess guns for national defense or military purposes only. Therefore, this group requires the federal and state governments to make the acquisition of guns extremely strict to limit the number of people with guns. The strict laws will ensure that individuals with mental problems, convicted felonies, and individuals below eighteen years of age, do not possess guns (Stell, 2004). Such people will increase the likelihood of a high rate of criminal offenses within modern society.
HCI asserts that a large number of children and teens will die from gunshots when civilians can be able to have access to guns without strict gun control laws (Goss, 2009). This group argues that the federal government should enhance gun safety, especially requiring licensed gun dealers to sell guns with triggers having childproof locks. HCI commended Smith & Wesson because of making guns that have safety features. Children are innocent members of society and deserve the right to experience protection from different sources of danger. Many other gun control groups advocate for the strictness of gun control laws throughout the United States.
A person should be a legal citizen of the United States and undergo the process of training, evaluation, and registration (Woods, 2005). Federally licensed gun dealers are the only gun dealers, who should sell firearms to civilians across the United States. The American citizens, whose evaluations have been successful, can complete Form 4473 as a requirement during registration for a firearm (Goss, 2009).
This form bears the information regarding the gun and purchaser, including the name and age of the purchaser, as well as the model, serial number, and make of the firearm. The federal government has prohibited the convicted felonies and illegal aliens from obtaining firearms because they have a high likelihood of committing crimes. However, the maximum number of years for barring convicted felonies from obtaining firearms is twenty years (Woods, 2005). Training of the individuals on the maintenance and use of guns is crucial before they acquire and possess the guns. This will ensure that the civilians are responsible and can be able to make appropriate decisions on when and how to use their guns.
The federal government should regulate the requirements for acquiring and maintaining firearms within the United States in order to avoid the adoption of different requirements among the states (Goss, 2009). It is also necessary that the civilians undergo annual training on the safety and use of firearms and other weapons. Moreover, training will update civilians on current gun regulations, actual safety, and proper use of firearms.
Instead of prohibiting individuals that engage in criminal activities from possessing firearms, it is necessary to prohibit the previous criminals from acquiring and possessing firearms. The federal government requires gun dealers to evaluate individuals thoroughly before registration and acquisition of firearms (Goss, 2009). In case a person requires further evaluation, it will be necessary to delay the registration process for the person to undergo appropriate analysis.
Registration and licensing of firearms are significant processes because they aid police investigations during tracing (Brown & Abel, 2003). This can be helpful in identifying, and weeding criminals making attempts to purchase guns through legal processes. The application process may also discourage casual purchasers of firearms thereby reducing the number of individuals possessing firearms. Registration and licensing of firearms can facilitate tracing of weapons used to commit criminal offenses.
In addition, registration and licensing will aid the police in the identification of the firearms that individuals may possess. Regulation of firearms and other guns is crucial in reducing the number of criminal activities that involve the use of guns (Goss, 2009). When the obtaining methods of firearms become strict, the federal government will be able to regulate gun control and ownership effectively thereby decreasing gun trafficking and fatalities, which result from gunshots.
It is apparent that some individuals are in favor of gun control while others are against the restrictions that governments put on the acquisition, possession, and use of guns. Individuals, who are in favor of gun control, argue that the number of criminal offenses is directly proportional to the number of people possessing unregistered firearms and other guns (Brown & Abel, 2003). People can misuse their guns, especially shooting others during a robbery, without fear of the police tracking them. The Second Amendment fails to apply to citizens and that the government should take firearms and other guns out of the criminals’ hands. Therefore, gun control techniques reduce the number of murders due to gunshots significantly.
On the other hand, those individuals, who are against gun control, argue that restrictions on the possession and use of firearms increase the chance of acquiring firearms and other guns from the black market. Many individuals may acquire firearms illegally because the legal acquisition of firearms requires them to follow hectic processes, which include criminal-background checks, registration, and licensing (Brown & Abel, 2003). Legal acquisition of firearms also requires individuals to pay some amount of money as tax. Anti-gun control groups include the National Rifle Association and the Gun Owners of America.
Anti-Gun Control Groups
Anti-gun control refers to the efforts against the purchase and possession of guns. The anti-gun control groups consider that banning guns or restricting individuals on the possession of guns as unconstitutional (Brown & Abel, 2003). The anti-gun control groups support the Second Amendment, which protects the rights of civilians from undergoing infringement for a safe state. Individuals can acquire, possess, and use their guns for their own personal safety. The Gun Owners of America (GOA) refers to a lobbyist group preserving and defending the Second Amendment (Brown & Abel, 2003).
This lobbyist group considers the right to acquire and possess guns as a freedom issue among civilians. It has been evident that GOA is against compromising and accepting the status quo. GOA has committed itself to build a network of attorneys, who will help in challenging the strict gun control laws in courts. Furthermore, the lobbyist group has frozen senators, who support bills to strengthen background checks and enhance penalties for those individuals purchasing guns illegally. GOA empowers those individuals with a strong background in gun rights. Therefore, GOA aims at advancing and maintaining pro-gun rights and legislation.
The National Rifle Association (NRA)
The National Rifle Association (NRA) refers to a lobbyist group advocating people’s right to possess guns and reject gun regulation, which is the case with the federal government (Brown & Abel, 2003). The objective of the NRA is to enhance firearm ownership, hunting protection, self-defense, along with the safety of firearms. Therefore, the NRA requires individuals to possess firearms without restrictions from the government. Even though the anti-gun control groups enhance firearm safety, the main goal is to give firearms to civilians within the United States. The NRA is among the most powerful lobbyist groups in the United States because they have plenty of finances to support their efforts and beliefs (Brown & Abel, 2003).
This is an extremely powerful lobby that fights against the impending regulations to restrict the acquisition and possession of firearms. The NRA has refused to join various discussions, including those discussions that the President of the United States requests (Brown & Abel, 2003). This lobbyist group allows individuals to possess firearms regardless of whether the individuals have a high likelihood of committing criminal offenses or not.
The activists against gun control consider gun control laws as having a high likelihood to benefit criminals (Goss, 2009). Therefore, tight restrictions on the ownership and use of guns may increase the rate at which violent crimes occur across the United States. Law-abiding citizens will obey gun control laws if every person obeys the laws. The criminals will benefit from strict gun control laws because most of their victims will not possess guns. Many criminal offenses, such as murder, rape, and robbery, will be common when few law-abiding victims possess guns (Woods, 2005). This will increase the crime rate because of reduced victims’ resistance.
In addition, criminal justice resources will diminish because the federal government will divert most of the monetary resources toward gun control efforts. Gun registration, enforcement of gun laws, and convictions of gun law violators will spend large amounts of police resources. Thus, this will reduce the number of resources available for deterring real criminals. Research shows that criminal justice arrests about 200,000 criminals because of weapons violations every year (Goss, 2009). Therefore, the criminal justice system experiences a tremendous load that diminishes resources significantly.
Private possession of guns is extremely necessary for the contemporary society for the purpose of self-defense. Criminals, such as robbers, rapists, and burglars may not fail to attack individuals, who own guns. Without self-defense mechanisms, business owners are likely to incur serious losses due to attackers (Woods, 2005). This is evidence that strict gun control laws will affect the economic status of civilians negatively. Therefore, the anti-gun control lobbyist groups assert that the civilians should obtain guns to take care of their properties and lives.
The economy of a country will decline if the federal government bars people from obtaining and possessing guns. It is for a reason that investors may fear the attackers who will be acquiring their guns from the black market. Law-abiding individuals may fail to acquire guns from federally licensed dealers because the process is hectic and time-consuming. The federal government should allow civilians to acquire and possess guns easily (Goss, 2009). On the other hand, criminals will acquire firearms from the black market cheaply and within a short time. Therefore, private gun ownership will increase security among civilians because of self-defense.
Strict gun control laws will encourage criminals to look for other alternatives through which they can obtain guns cheaply (Brown & Abel, 2003). Many felons do not acquire through legal means, which require registration and issuance of a license. Therefore, new restrictions will reduce the number of firearms and other guns that felons obtain through federally regulated gun dealers. The regulated gun dealers ensure that the buyers follow the process of gun registration, which may require buyers to wait for some months before receiving the guns (Goss, 2009). However, the restricted acquisition of guns will not affect the number of guns that the felons will possess. It is for a reason that the felons will acquire their guns from the black markets, as well as robbing other people of their legally acquired guns.
In the United States, many registered gun owners lose their guns especially firearms, to the hands of criminals through theft every day. Secondly, many registered gun owners die, leaving their guns inaccurately registered (Goss, 2009). These cases lead to the influx of firearms and other guns in the black market. Therefore, criminals acquire a large number of guns from the black market, which does not have any restrictions. Firearms cost the purchasers little money as compared to the actual prices of similar guns from the federally licensed gun dealers.
Individuals can acquire their guns from the black markets within a short time, which can be a day or just a few hours (Goss, 2009). Another factor that encourages individuals, especially criminals to acquiring guns from the black markets is because the police cannot be able to trace them upon committing criminal offenses using guns. Therefore, criminals can commit numerous criminal offenses without identification and arrest.
Few or many gun control laws may not influence the rate at which criminals commit criminal offenses because people can acquire firearms, such as handguns from a variety of sources. Therefore, the reduction of criminal offenses cannot involve just avoiding the sale of firearms completely. It has been evident that the Second Amendment advocates the rights of civilians to acquire and possess guns for their own self-defense (Goss, 2009).
Even if guns help criminals execute violent activities, guns themselves can do nothing. Training of individuals on how to use their firearms may be the most appropriate strategy to reduce gunshot incidences. It is for a reason that strict gun control has failed to prevent felons and other individuals from obtaining unregistered guns, which are available in black markets.
Pro-gun activists argue that the legal connection existing between purchasing a gun and the gun purchasers’ mental health is unfair and uneven (Woods, 2005). Mental-health problems should not bar individuals from acquiring and possessing guns. Mental-health advocates may not risk widening the restrictions of gun-owning on people suffering from health problems. This is because the mental-health advocates fear that the restrictions may deter individuals, such as the police officers and veterans from seeking medical attention. People with mental health problems also require self-protection just like individuals with normal mental health (Stell, 2004).
Strict gun control laws are against the idea of allowing individuals with mental health problems to acquire and possess guns because of various reasons. Individuals with mental ill-health are likely to use their guns inappropriately, leading to deaths due to gunshots. Mentally ill individuals may not take maximum care upon their guns (Goss, 2009). This may contribute to the movement of registered guns into the hands of criminals and black markets.
It has been evident that some groups of people support gun control while other groups support anti-gun control strategies. Both groups of people have various reasons regarding their stands. In the United States, the federal government needs to restrict gun control and ownership significantly (Goss, 2009). Some of the strategies that the federal government of the United States employs include background checks, restrictions on purchase ages, and registration. Strict federal gun control laws require the federally registered dealers as the only dealers selling and distributing firearms among buyers through a thorough registration process. This will reduce gun trafficking, as well as save the lives of civilians, who may experience gunshots with or without the intention of the firearm users.
For instance, the underage gun owners may shoot other people unintentionally. Adolescents may also commit suicide or shoot other people because of their inability to make judgments appropriately (Goss, 2009). Strict gun control laws also ensure that the police can be able to trace criminals upon committing criminal offenses. This is possible because the guns and ammunitions the criminals use exist in the database. Therefore, the groups of people, who support gun control, argue that the restrictions on the acquisition, possession, and use of guns will reduce gun trafficking and mortality rate significantly.
Some of the gun control groups include the Handgun Control Incorporated (HCI) while the gun control laws include the Gun Control Act (GCA) of 1968 and the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934. These require the federal government to make the process of acquiring guns among civilians extremely difficult. The gun control groups and laws argue that easy access to guns will increase the number of people with guns, thereby raising the number of criminal offenses within a short time. Strict gun control laws and gun control groups do not consider the possibility of civilians acquiring guns illegally from the black markets (Brown & Abel, 2003). However, the black markets will exist regardless of the strict gun control laws or the anti-gun control lobbyist groups.
The anti-gun control groups such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) consider that the strict gun control laws have led to the increase of the number of guns, which individuals acquire illegally (Brown & Abel, 2003). Criminals may steal guns from the registered owner or acquire guns from the black markets. Many registered owners die, leading to the existence of inaccurate records of registered guns. Acquisition of guns from the black markets is both cheaper and faster thereby encouraging many people to acquire their guns from the black markets. Similarly, the police cannot be able to trace the criminals after a criminal offense because the guns do not have any record in the database. Therefore, criminals can continue engaging in numerous criminal activities without identification and arrest.
It is true that the issue of gun control is extremely controversial because of the sides of the arguments of the pro-gun control and anti-gun control lobbyist groups. At the moment, the anti-gun control lobbyist groups are more powerful than is the case with the pro-gun control lobbyists because of the presence of the black market, which provides criminals with guns at cheaper prices and within a short time.
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