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Gun Control

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The United States Constitution says that U.S. citizens have the right to bear arms. Even though this guarantee was written with no constraints, there are now laws that limit certain aspects of gun ownership. A main reason people are pushing for more gun control is for personal and public safety. Though there are many safety reasons why private ownership of firearms should be banned, these arguments are outweighed not only by the need for protection, but because the limitation of gun ownership rights could become dangerous to personal freedom.

The Second Amendment reads, "A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." When the U.S. Constitution was written, some delegates thought militia was military forces because the federal government had its own army to protect the people. However, the second amendment was made in response to the fear of being helpless before a standing professional army. A leader who is backed by a standing army holds a lot of power; the founding fathers feared that people's freedoms could be taken away by the federal government if it were to become corrupted and tyrannical. So the founding fathers wrote the second amendment to allow militia to bear arms and defend themselves against a tyrannical government or foreign invasion.

Gun control proponents have argued that the use of the word "people" in the second amendment refers not to the civilian population of the United States, but to the State National Guard Units. Thomas Jefferson, who is known as the "Father of the Constitution," clearly stated in the Draft Virginia Constitution in 1776, "No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms." It can then be concluded that the founding father's intentions were for every American to have the right to self-defense.

The main reason for gun control boils down to the want for personal and public safety. One upsetting fact about guns is they increase the severity of a crime. With guns, unlike knives or hands, rage and recklessness are likely to be translated cleanly and quickly into death. Another upsetting fact is that hand guns are people killers, that is their only use. People with guns are more likely to take a life than with up-close and personal weapons like the knife or the fist.

Gun control activists believe that a ban on hand guns would gradually deplete the number of handguns in circulation. Little pistols are not needed by ordinary people and can easily be concealed by street criminals. One in every nine Americans has already been threatened or shot by someone wielding a hand gun. This statistic shows the effect of the availability of handguns in America. The handgun is not needed except when a person wants to hide a weapon. For home defense, the shotgun is more effective with its wide blasting stopping power, while a handgun has to be aimed exactly on target.

A big problem with keeping guns in the house is the curiosity and ignorance of children. Children are more capable of finding guns than they are given credit for. Ronald Cruit, author of Intruder in Your Home: How to Defend Yourself Legally With a Firearem, said that, "Children under the age of 15 suffer approximately one-third of the deaths caused by guns in the home." (Cruit, 18) Even if a child is well-behaved and listens when they are told not to touch a gun, they may still succumb to peer pressure and let their friends play with a gun. Not only is a gun dangerous to children, but the ammunition is as well. A child could be seriously hurt by an exploding bullet which can be set off by being hit by a rock, a nail, or being thrown into the fireplace. Children are unpredictable and they do not know the effect of a gun on themselves or their friends. However, in 1995, firearm accidents were only at 2.7% of the fatal accidents for children 14 and under (Ruoco, 8).

Having a gun in the house can also be dangerous because of temperament, rage, and impulse because murder is usually a crime of passion. If you or someone in your family has a hot temper that leads to rather violent reactions, you should not keep a gun around. Guns are an easy solution to problems in and enraged person's mind. They are quick and clean and most of all impersonal. Enraged people are impulsive and handguns make impulsive actions deadly.

A gun makes suicide easy and instantaneous. Thousands of people a year commit suicide because of hopelessness and depression. Although there's no way of knowing if all these people would have taken their lives by other means if a gun had been unavailable, it is reasonable to assume that some of them would not have done so. According to Julian S. Hatcher, in Firearms Investigation, Identification, and Evidence, most people would not actually commit suicide if there were no guns available. He states "The chance of suicide if no firearm is present is relatively remote" (Hatcher, 284). Many people who take pills or slit their wrists think better of it before it is too late and ask for help.

Alcohol and drugs play a big role in the misuse of firearms. People who have substance abuse problems may play and joke around with a firearm, creating a hazardous situation. "Fifty-two percent of all murderers act under the influence of liquor or drugs" (Cruit, 17). Drinking or doing drugs mix no better with guns than they do with driving cars. The real danger is that most people with substance problems do not admit to it and therefore do not make a responsible decision with relation to their problem, when deciding to own a gun or not.

Gun control activists suggest that there are other ways to protect yourself than having a gun. Some of these ways are having fortified outer as

well as inner doors, a good burglar alarm, and a good neighborhood watch organization. Doors need to be made of strong, solid wood and any windows in them should be out of reach of the inner locks in case they are broken. With an alarm system one can deter a criminal because most will leave at the sound of an alarm to avoid getting caught. The police can also be alerted with some systems so a burglar will probably go to another, less troublesome house. Neighborhood watch is a very effective means of security. In neighborhood watch people are designated to watch the neighborhood at different times to make sure its secure. When suspicious things happen, these people call the police or a civilian base station.

The Constitution says that citizens have the right to bear arms in the second amendment. Like most of the amendments, the second is written very broadly so that it can be interpreted in different ways to fit the changing times. To be able to protect oneself is the most basic right of individualism and the



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