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Ethics Of Gun Control

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Autor:   •  December 20, 2010  •  1,628 Words (7 Pages)  •  2,026 Views

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The Ethics of Gun Control

The phrase "Gun Control" means different things to different people. One bumper sticker states that "Gun Control means hitting your target." However one defines gun control, the mere mention of it brings controversy. Opposing sides have for years fought over the laws that govern firearms. For the purposes of this paper "Gun Control" is defined as policies enacted by the government that limit the legal rights of gun owners to own, carry, or use firearms, with the intent of reducing gun crimes such as murder, armed robbery, aggravated rape, and the like. So defined, gun control understandably brings favorable responses from some, and angry objections from others.

The gun control debate is generally publicized because of the efforts of the Pro-Gun Lobby or the Anti-Gun Lobby.The best known of the Pro-Gun Lobby is the NRA, headed by Charlton Heston and Wayne LaPierre. The Anti-Gun Lobby includes such organizations as Handgun Control, Inc., The Violence Policy Center, and the ACLU, and is commonly

associated with such figures as Sarah Brady.

It is doubtful that anyone would dispute that reducing violent crime is a good thing. Most pro-gun lobbyists will concede that guns are used in

violent crimes, and that guns act as an enabler for criminals. It is

impossible to deny that mass shootings could not be carried out without

guns. This fact is generally the basis of the anti-gun movement. They

argue that since guns are commonly used in the commission of crimes, and

since guns are inherently dangerous because of their primary function

(the primary function being the destruction of the target), that guns

should therefore be outlawed. The pro-gun lobby counters this by saying

that law-abiding citizens using firearms protect themselves from

criminals 2.5 million times every year , and that there is a

correlation between increased gun ownership and a reduced crime rate


The arguments of the anti-gun lobby are generally based on

so-called "common-sense" and emotional pleading, with relatively few

statistics backing up their claims. They argue that the Second Amendment

to the Constitution is only giving the states the right to regulate

militia activity and therefore possess and "bear" arms . Some

of the more extreme anti-gun lobby advocate repealing the Second

Amendment altogether.

Since the most extreme advocates of gun control wish to ban guns

regardless of the Constitution, it becomes necessary to not just examine

the law of the land, and the courts interpretation, but also the

underlying philosophies of both sides of the debate. This is not to say

that the issue cannot be argued from a legal standpoint. In the past few

years, as class-action lawsuits have become more prevalent, some lawsuits

have been brought against gun manufacturers on the grounds that they

produce and distribute a dangerous product. In some cases, juries

decided for the plaintiffs, and thus set precedent for more anti-gun

suits. This hardly sets an actual legal precedent against the legality

of guns themselves. In fact, US v. Emerson, a case resolved just last

Spring, a federal appeals judge upheld under the Second Amendment the

right to own/possess a firearm even for a man who was under a restraining

order issued at his estranged wife's request . This

decision overturned a law in Texas that made it illegal for someone with

a restraining order to own/possess a gun. This decision was made in part

because the judge decided that the Second Amendment indeed said that an

individual has the right to "keep and bear arms", not just the state.

Any other argument regarding the legal rights of the individual under the

Second Amendment seem unnecessary, since the precedent of individual

rights has again been upheld.

Without any legal argument to speak of, the debate must now move to a

philosophical one. From a deontological perspective, the first question

to be posed is, "In regards to everyone in the world, is an act of

self-defense from loss of life or limb morally justified?" Few would

answer this question with anything other than "yes". The next question

that arises is, "Is it morally okay for everyone to possess a firearm for

use in self-defense?" The answer to this, without allowing for other

uses of firearms must be yes. To defend one's self is instinctually

right, and is rationally allowable as well. If threatened with a gun, it

is difficult to effectively defend one's self with anything other than a

gun . Thus for self-defense, guns meet the requirements of the

Categorical Imperative. The question then becomes, "What type of guns

should be allowed?" The answer cannot be easily given, unless one

arrives at an answer based entirely on the need


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