Gun control refers to laws, regulations, and policies that aim to control and manage firearms’ manufacture, sale, possession, and use. It mainly aims at reducing gun violence and the number of gun-related deaths and injuries, particularly those resulting from gun violence. According to Kleck et al. (2016), the United States has the highest gun ownership rate in the world, and the number of gun-related deaths has steadily increased over the past few years. The effectiveness and constitutionality of these laws are controversial issues in America today. They ought to balance the right to bear arms with the need to protect public safety; hence gun control laws vary by state.
Gun control proponents argue that these policies can reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by firearms, particularly in domestic violence, suicide, and mass shootings. They point to the fact that states with more restrictive gun regulations tend to have lower rates of gun violence, indicating that stricter laws can effectively reduce gun violence (Kleck et al.,2016). hey also point out that the historical context in which the Second Amendment was written was very different from the present-day United States; hence further restrictions must be put in place.
While there is no specific approach that can fully address the issue of gun control, as it involves balancing the right of individuals to bear arms with the need to protect public safety, several measures can be taken to reduce gun-related violence protecting the rights of gun owners.
One of the most widely supported gun control measures is strengthening background checks for individuals purchasing firearms. This would require background checks for all gun purchases, including private sales and gun shows. This measure would help prevent firearms from getting into the hands of people prohibited from owning them, such as convicted felons or individuals with a history of mental illness (Melzer, 2016). Thereby limiting access to certain types of firearms, such as assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, can make it more difficult for individuals to carry out mass shootings, which often involve these types of firearms.
Secondly, strengthening red flag laws has effectively prevented suicides and mass shootings. Stroebe et al. (2017) assert that they allow law enforcement and family members to petition a court to remove firearms from individuals who may pose a danger to themselves or others, reducing unintentional injuries and deaths caused by guns.
Some supporters also argue that community-based approaches, such as investing in education, providing job opportunities, and improving access to mental health services, can help address the root causes of gun violence (Spitzer, 2020). For many years, high levels of unemployment and poverty have been associated with higher rates of violent crime, including gun violence. By providing job training programs, expanding access to affordable housing, and creating more job opportunities, individuals are less likely to resort to violence to survive (Stroebe et al.,2017). Furthermore, with many mass shooters being linked to having a history of mental illness, providing access to mental health treatment could help identify and treat individuals who may be at risk of committing gun violence.
On the other side, opponents of gun control argue that these policies infringe on the right to bear arms guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and that law-abiding citizens should have the right to own and carry firearms (Spitzer, 2020). They argue that guns can be used for self-defense and that law-abiding citizens should be able to protect themselves and their families. They further argue that these measures are not effective as criminals will simply find ways to obtain guns regardless of the regulations in place.
Indeed, some criminals may still obtain guns illegally. However, this does not mean that gun control measures are useless. The measures can still help to reduce the overall number of guns in circulation and make it more difficult for criminals to obtain guns (Stroebe et al.,2017). For example, strengthening background checks can help prevent firearms from getting into the hands of individuals prohibited from owning them, including convicted felons and those with a history of mental illness.
Ultimately, finding common ground on this issue has proven difficult as any attempt to pass significant legislation will likely be met with resistance from some sectors of society. The debate is often highly emotional and is influenced by various factors, including cultural attitudes toward guns, political ideology, and personal experiences with gun violence (Kleck et al.,2016). For example, individuals who have been directly affected by gun violence may be more likely to support stricter gun control measures than those who have not been directly confronted with gun violence.
Pros of Gun Control:
Reducing gun violence: Stricter gun laws could reduce the number of homicides, suicides, and accidental shootings.
Preventing mass shootings: Mass shootings have become increasingly common in America. Advocates of gun control argue that stricter laws could prevent these types of incidents.
Protecting vulnerable populations: Gun violence disproportionately affects marginalized communities. Stricter gun laws could help protect these populations.
Cons of Gun Control
Violation of constitutional rights: The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms. Stricter gun laws could be seen as a violation of this right.
Criminals will still find ways to obtain guns: Gun control laws may not effectively reduce gun violence, as criminals can still obtain guns through illegal means such as theft, the black market, or smuggling (Melzer, 2016). This means that stricter gun laws may only affect law-abiding citizens, not those committing crimes.
Unintended Consequences: Some argue that gun control measures could have unintended consequences. For example, banning certain types of guns could lead to a black market for those guns, and increasing regulations could lead to longer wait times for law-abiding citizens who want to purchase guns legally.
Slippery Slope: Some people argue that gun control measures could further restrict other rights, such as freedom of speech and privacy. They believe that it is important to protect Second Amendment rights as a safeguard against government overreach.
There is also a range of practical considerations that must be considered when discussing gun control in America. For example, enforcing any new gun laws would require significant resources and manpower, and it is unclear whether law enforcement agencies could effectively enforce such measures. In addition, any new gun laws would likely face legal challenges, which could further delay their implementation. Therefore, finding a solution to the issue will require a multifaceted approach that considers all of these factors. Overall, the issue of gun control in America is a complex and multifaceted one that is likely to be resolved soon.
Kleck, G., Kovandzic, T., & Bellows, J. (2016). Does Gun Control Reduce Violent Crime? Criminal Justice Review, 41(4), 488–513. https://doi.org/10.1177/0734016816670457
Melzer, S. (2016). Guns across America: Reconciling Gun Rules and Rights. Contemporary Sociology, 45(6), 793–794. https://doi.org/10.1177/0094306116671949
Stroebe, W., Leander, N. P., & Kruglanski, A. W. (2017). Is it a dangerous world out there? The motivational bases of American gun ownership. Personality and social psychology bulletin, 43(8), 1071-1085. https://doi.org/10.1177/014616721770395
Spitzer, R. J. (2020). The politics of gun control. Routledge. https://scholar.google.com/scholar?cluster=8033497244097513897&hl=en&as_sdt=2005&sciodt=0,5
ViewCaps. (2013). Gun Control: The Pros and Cons of the Issue. (n.p.): Golgotha Press.