Crime regulation has a linear relationship with a decline in violence in the US, with gun controls having the greatest effect on declining gun deaths, with three federal laws in particular (gun registration, ammo checks, general background checks) likely to reduce about 90% of firearm deaths.
Numerous investigations on gun safety have been undertaken at both the state and federal levels. Most of the literature focuses on gun policies in general, while not paying close attention to specific laws designed to curtail gun abuse (Webster, Crifasi, & Vernick, 2014). For many years, gun laws have been handled at the state-level with some states implementing preventive regulations while others opt for permissive ones. The difference in-laws are the genesis of gun problems in most American states as it ensures the ready availability of firearms even when there are laws restricting unlawful ownership. This paper takes a closer look at the impact of federal gun laws in reducing violence in the US. However, its insight on current state level firearm regulations is limited since it is an area that has already been extensively covered hence the available information can be considered exhaustive. It will be important to briefly revisit state gun laws while discussing the three federal laws so as to ensure a comprehensive approach is achieved.
This is paper will provide information that will help to give light on the state of gun control laws in a bid to fight violence in the US. It covers federal role in the fight against gun violence paying attention to gun identification, ammunition checks, general background checks as the federal laws aimed at reducing violence by more than 90% in the US (Storrs, 2016). The aim of singling out three laws only is to look at which preventive laws actually work instead of the general concept that all restraining regulations work.
Challenges to gun control
The major challenge facing the implementation of gun laws in the US is variation of the rules and regulations concerning guns from state to state. States that have in place accommodating laws for example, stand-your-ground laws pose a threat to states that have implemented restricting laws for instance, juvenile access deterrence regulations and background checks (Butkus, Doherty, & Daniel, 2014). Of course it should first be noted that firearm ownership rates differ from state as well as gun homicides and unemployment ratios. The three (unemployment levels, non-firearm homicide death rates, firearm ownership ratios) determine firearm-related deaths from state to state (McGinty et al., 2014). The leniency available in other states means that individuals are likely to travel from other states where there are no lenient laws on guns and ammunition in order to make purchases then return to their states. In such cases, the purchased guns are often unlicensed meaning that they are hard to trace when used to commit violent crimes.
There are some 25 prevailing state regulations that target gun control. About a third of the laws are considered to be related with lesser levels of firearm-associated deaths. According to Storrs (2016), general background checks account for the highest impact on reduction of firearm-related violence at 39%. On the other hand, ammunition background checks accounts for a reduction of those deaths at 18% while gun identification is responsible for 16%. Gun identification laws enhances the ease of establishing the specific firearm from which a bullet was shot. It is predicted that federal regulations covering background checks for guns bought can possibly decrease death rates from firearms by 57% (Webster, Crifasi, & Vernick, 2014). At the same time, laws on ammunition background checks are likely to minimize firearm death rates by about 83%. It should be noted that even if the changes are effected today the results will take some years before the rates are finally lowered.
Currently, there is a federal guiding principle that points out individuals are required to be subjected to background checks before making purchases at an authorized seller. The above policy is referred to as the Brady Law. According to Storrs (2016), it has been established that there is a significant gap left by the Brady Law. It does not address the likelihood of guns being acquired from dealers who are not licensed. Most shocking is the estimation that about 40% of the guns are obtained from unauthorized sellers, often at firearm shows and at times online. As such, it implies that a substantial number of guns consisting of a very high quantity are accessible unlawfully hence increasing death rates caused by guns (McGinty et al., 2014). The assumption is that most of the guns used for committing crimes are not likely to be licensed hence ammunition cannot even be used to track assailants in order to reduce violence.
New Jersey, Rhode Island, California, among others are some of the several states that already have in place laws requiring private gun dealers to conduct background checks on individuals before selling guns to them. as such, these states have ensured that general background check regulations have been created and put in place. The challenge facing the initiative to execute background checks is that some states do not have similar laws (Butkus, Doherty, & Daniel, 2014). Absence of laws on universal background checks means that there is a high level of leniency towards gun acquisition by individuals. The leniency is a challenge to other states restricting gun acquisition without background checks. Therefore, individuals from restrictive states are likely to travel to lenient states in order to acquire guns and ammunition then travel back to their own states. Since the guns purchased are not licensed and originate from a different state, it is highly unlikely for the bullets, shells or firearms to be traced back to the owners if used in violent actions.
Background checks for guns only is not an effective option for combating gun violence. Even when guns are obtaining elsewhere it is quite difficult to acquire ammunition. Since gun background checks is deemed to fail, it is stipulated that ammunition background checks are a more viable option that works better than the former (Butkus, Doherty, & Daniel, 2014). However, the most effective option is conducting both ammunition and firearm background checks. Although, background checks for ammunition alone is still effective than background checks for guns. Some of the states that necessitates permission in order to make ammunition purchases include New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Illinois (Weinberger et al., 2015). Limiting access to ammunition through legal procedures ensure that death rates resulting from firearms are greatly reduced while enabling individuals to acquire ammunition lawfully.
It should be noted that there are some laws which are likely to increase the rate of gun violence while others do not have any effect on gun death rates (Webster, Crifasi, & Vernick, 2014). For instance, banning semi-automatic firearms and other assault weaponries can escalate mortality rates by 15%. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is usually involved in conducting background checks for firearms. It recorded the highest checks in 2012 and later on in 2015 after the Colorado movie theater shooting and Connecticut Sandy Hook Elem shooting respectively (McGinty et al., 2014). This indicates that gun violence usually leads to an increase in the checks conducted ensuring that a repeat is not witnessed. Tighter rules on assault weapons does not mean that people have to skip the border in order to obtain a certain firearm in a state it is allowed but have open access to other weapons. As such, gun violence is not controlled by banning certain specific types of guns.
Apart from the restrictions on the availability of firearms to individuals, other factors that affect gun violence include variations in availability of mental health care, poverty levels, ethnic and race make-up, culture from state to state. However, universal background checks laws set by stats and permit on handgun purchases through licensing is considered to be the most efficient way minimize gun violence in the US.
From the above discussion it is clear that accessibility to firearms is the genesis of gun violence hence it would be correct to reiterate that gun control laws can help reduce violence in the US. The following federal laws: gun identification, ammunition checks, general background checks are crucial in reducing gun violence and resulting deaths. Of the three, background checks for ammunition is the most effective followed by checks for guns, and lastly firearm identification. The above three laws should be carried out at federal level because if states have different gun laws people are likely to take advantage of the deficiency in other states. It is recommended that similar gun laws be implemented in order to ensure uniformity and ultimately reduction of gun violence and deaths.
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