A child lies on his parents’ bedroom floor with a gunshot wound in his chest. His best friend stands over him, gaping. The nine-year-old boy’s eyes dart from the blood oozing from his friend, to his own shaking index finger, still clutched on the trigger of the gun. It was not supposed to happen this way. The gun was not supposed to be loaded. They should not have been snooping in the first place. But this scene has happened before, in countless different settings, with numerous different children. Situations such as this must be stopped, and the best way to do this is with stricter gun control laws. Guns are instruments of death, and there is no pleasant way to put it.
The main reasons that we need to enforce a more strict gun control is because of the number of firearm-related homicides in the US, and the danger that guns propose, as they are easily available to children in homes, teenagers on the streets, convicted criminals, and mentally unstable citizens.
Guns are a factor of danger wherever they are present. For instance, it is three times more likely that someone will be killed in the home if there is a gun present, and it is more likely that the someone killed will be a friend or family member rather than an intruder. It is frightening how many people die yearly from guns. According to justfacts.com, 10,369 people died from gun-related homicides in the United States in 1997. Also during 1997, US citizens committed approximately 7,927,000 violent crimes. The perpetrators used a firearm in roughly 691,000 of these instances. Guns also especially harm young people. In 1999, 1,468 children and teenagers were killed by handguns, and the number of injured is estimated to be about 100 times that.
Guns are a danger to American society. However, the government is not totally avoiding the problem of gun violence. In September of 1999, President Clinton offered $15 million dollars to cities to buy back and destroy about 300,000 guns.
Guns for the protection of your family aren’t always the safest method either. When citizens use guns for protection from criminals, the criminal is wounded in about 1 out of every 100 instances, and the criminal is killed in about 1 out of every 1000 instances. Also, several laws have been passed in an effort to protect the people from each other.
A very important law concerning gun control is the Brady Law. Sarah Brady, wife of former presidential press aid Jim Brady, started the law after her husband was wounded during an assassination attempt aimed at President Reagan. The Brady Law requires a five day waiting period and background check before anyone can purchase a gun. According to Matt Bai in the June, 28th, 1999 edition of Newsweek, “the Brady Law has prevented as many as 50,000 guns from reaching those considered unfit to handle a gun. However, there is a loophole in this law stating that background checks at gun shows are voluntary.”
We have individuals who have served prison sentences that are obtaining guns. This is an outrage, considering that any criminal with a terrible background who wants a gun can easily go to a gun show and obtain an array of deadly weapons without any hassle, defeating the purpose of the Brady Law. It is clear that there are gun laws, but they apparently are not strong enough.
When large numbers of people start to die we try to find a cause. The cause of these problems seems to be obvious. When an apparent cause is found, the people of the United States should try to rectify that problem. But why hasn’t the legislative branch done anything to rectify the problem? This is probably because lobbyists for gun rights have overwhelmed our congress-men with large amounts of money, something to the tune of nine million dollars a year on average between the two main political parties. Handguncontrol.org states that the National Rifle Association (or NRA) alone spent nearly twenty million dollars from 1991 to 1998 to strengthen their argument. It seems that money talks. But really a small interest group should not dictate what laws govern all of us. But what this really all comes down to is that guns need to be more closely regulated than they are now.
A gun is a gun and it was designed to kill something, and today guns are used to kill more people than ever. This situation will only get worse before it gets better.
In order to reduce the number of guns used by people to commit these appalling crimes, we should do some key things. We should require registration of all handguns in this country. We should require licensing and safety courses for every person who owns a handgun. Also we should pass laws to prohibit gun dealers from selling guns in residential neighborhoods. Requiring gun manufacturers to put mandatory trigger locks on all guns would also be a positive step. Also it is important that background checks be made required at all gun shows for sale of any and all fire-arms. We need to change the current laws governing the process of purchasing guns. Possibly we could make gun manufacturers responsible for their products, and show private citizens that gun control can be aided with their help. To begin, these important gun laws must be changed. In 1999 alone there were nine school shootings. Countless children have been killed in schools and so many more have been wounded all by deadly firearms in the hands of children.
Australia banned the selling of assault guns and pump-action shotguns within two weeks of a shooting in Port Arthur in which one mentally unstable man killed thirty-five people. People are getting murdered on a daily basis, as over 40,000 people are killed by guns every year. Another way for the people of this country to lower crime rates is to begin by creating tighter family values and encouraging children to learn other ways, besides crime, to be successful in life. We need to take charge and realize that it does not need to be this way.