The Debate Surrounding Gun Control in the U.S.
The debate surrounding gun control in the U.S. has been constant over the last few years especially with cases of mass shootings hitting different parts of the country recently. Gun control can be described as the legal measure meant to restrict or prevent the use or possession of firearms among civilians in the U.S. While the issue is strict and uncontroversial in most developed countries, it is a fraught political issue when it comes to the U.S. as it has pit proponents who regard it as an infringement of personal rights, and opponents who think that it is necessary for public safety (Benton 9).
Gun Control as a Divisive Issue
Gun control has been one of the United States’ most divisive issues since the 1960s, when gun rights became national political issue. Since then, the issue has culminated in lobbying campaigns worth millions of dollars, public demonstrations by activists and proponents of gun control laws and regulations, and even standoffs by representatives in the Congress. Currently, gun control can be considered problematic, taking into consideration the gun violence reported on a regular basis recently across the U.S.A, which results to calls by different stakeholders especially activists to put in place laws that will ensure that the lives of U.S. citizens are duly protected. Across the country, there have been confrontation, walkouts, and protests of Congressmen as they seek to change the current laws regarding gun possession. Given that the government is elected to protect the lives of its citizens, it has to be at the forefront of protecting them when the lives of the citizens are endangered in any way (Hamilton and Augustine 85).
The Role of Politics
Based on the last few mass shootings that have occurred in public places, churches, and even schools, it is time that the government, and the political elite considers just how important this issue, which would influence the relevant parties to carry out investigations and dedicate sufficient resources and time towards identifying and putting in place the necessary laws and guidelines that can help curb the gun violence (Jacobs 31). Politics plays a key role in the issue as it can be revealed from the last few elections, whereby matter was used as a gate pass to elective seats. Politicians and the elite who control the government need to mind the lives of the people and pass the laws that are meant to protect the lives of those who elect them.
The Right to Bear Arms
When it comes to the idea of the right to bear arms in the United States, the traditions that provide guidelines into the bearing of arms can be traced to English law. The right of American citizens to be armed is asserted in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and it can be closely related to the legacy of the right of the Englishmen to bear arms for the sake of their own defense. However, while the English right to carry and keep firearms was restrained with the passing of the Firearms Act of 1920, Americans have held on their right, something that has always haunted them in the form of gun violence (Kyle and William 34).
Changing Legal Debate on Gun Rights and Control
In the midst of these challenges, the U.S. Supreme Court recently passed two landmark decisions that affirmed the individual’s rights to own guns for self-defense. However, over time the legal debate focus on the issue of gun rights and control has changed with, and there’s the side made up of people fighting for a safer country, with the other side made of those who support the idea of gun rights as a means of them owning guns for self-defense. Currently, the Gun Control Act (GCA) of 1968 is responsible for regulating firearms at the federal level (Zimring 36). The GCA requires that for a citizen or a legal resident to be allowed to purchase a rifle or a shotgun and ammunition, he or she must be at least 18 years, and all other firearms, for example, handguns, are only sold to individuals aged 21 years and above.
Restrictions on Gun Possession
While the local or state official can implement higher age restrictions, they cannot lower the federal minimum age for gun-ownership (Pederson 280). If local ordinances and state law establish higher minimum age for people to purchase or dispose of their firearms, the licensees must observe the higher age requirements per the Gun Control Act. Currently, among the people who cannot purchase firearms include fugitives, those who are involuntarily committed to mental institutions as well as people who are deemed to be a danger to the society. Additionally, one needs to obtain a federal firearms license so as to be allowed to sell firearms (Wellford, John and Carol 98). The application consists of an application fee, and the required supporting materials, among them fingerprint cards and photographs, after which the Federal Firearm License Center conducts a background check on the applicant to ensure that he or she is responsible enough and that he can be granted the license after filling the Responsible Person Questionnaire (Wilson 112).
Arguments for Gun Ownership
To better understand the factors contributing to the stalling of gun control talks in the United States, it is important to analyze the arguments by the proponents for gun ownership. Those opposed to gun control rules claim that by passing a law that limits people from accessing guns, the ability of the people to defend themselves against a criminal is undermined, which increases the chances of increased crime in the country (DeConde 27). It is evident that most of the ordinary American citizens may be too ill-tempered and too clumsy to handle weapons.
Proposed Measures for Gun Control
In most cases, teams seeking to push the gun control agenda have proposed increased measures for licensing, creating bans as well as waiting periods to ensure that those seeking to own guns really need them (Spitzer 39). However, the increasing occurrence of mass shootings across the country has led to greater calls for better means of ensuring that Americans are protected from the issue. For instance, following the mass shooting in a high school at Parkland Florida earlier in 2018 where 17 students were killed, there were new calls for gun control legislation in the country (Kleck and Britt 250). Following the incidence, a poll was conducted which show that the public supports gun control legislations. However, since gun laws in the country vary significantly from state to state, it is difficult to have a common status that controls how the guns are registered, how they are purchased, how they are permitted and how they are used (Lott 39).
Policies to Address Gun Violence
Over the years, there have been policies put in place or proposed to ensure that gun control laws are tougher in the country, but the majority of them most of them differ by state. With an average of 34,000 people losing their lives in the U.S. annually due to gun-related suicide or accidents and there being over 81,000 gunshot survivors, it is not just a glut of available firearms or how obtainable the firearms new ideas seeking to expand existing federal laws or implement new idea have become a necessity (Eaves and Judy 372).
Better Background Checks
One of the key policies that have been proposed to lower gun violence is the introduction of better background checks. Licensed firearms dealers have to conduct criminal background checks on all prospective buyers as a requirement of the federal law (Lester and Mary 37). However, unlicensed private firearm dealers who are responsible for the sale of over 40 percent of all guns do not have to obey these rules, which lower the chances of any background checks being carried out.
Denial of Guns to Domestic Abusers
The other policy that has been proposed in an effort to control gun use in the country is the denial of guns to domestic abusers given that there has been a lethal connection between domestic vehemence and gun ownership (Kaminer 33). However, the measure is highly limited to the fact that it is hard to define a domestic abuser. It is also important to determine those who are too dangerous to have a gun as a way of reducing the perceived risk from the gun holders. A version meant to determine who was too dangerous to hold a gun was enacted in 1999 in Connecticut and has seen a measurable reduction of deaths associated with gun violence ever since (Crooker 24).
Addressing Gun Violence for Sustainable Development
While hundreds of lives continue to be lost every day to gun violence across the country, one could imagine that it would be easy to pass a law that controls the use of a gun in the country. However, this is not the case as most of the propositions meant to push for gun control end up facing strong opposition. However, in case the country seeks to achieve the ambitious goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it is important that the scourge of gun violence be tackled at once given that there is an explicit link between security and sustainable development (Foley 126). The gun violence pandemic has many roots ranging from socio-economic, legal and political factors. Failure to have adequate legislation and regulation as well as insufficient resources has been known to exacerbate gun violence. Such multi-faceted and complex issues require equally multi-faceted solutions to ensure that their root causes are addressed (Webster and Jon 86).
Key Aspects of Gun Control
There are different aspects of gun control, among them the passing and enforcement of the necessary laws, the strengthening of the police department, and the use of social media to pass information regarding the matter, and ensuring that gun owners are duly trained on gun usage to ensure that they do not end up engaging in a mass shooting (Hemenway 34). While the issue of gun control is complicated by some issues including the levels of urbanization, alcohol and drug abuse, unemployment, the extent of gun ownership in the community, it is important to understand how these factors will be addressed to ensure that their influence on the issue is controlled. While the gun control rule may seem to be easy to put in place, it might not materialize anytime soon given the current state of events. However, with people waking up to news of the mass shooting on every day, it would be important to consider the burning of the guns as soon as possible.
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