The topic of gun control in the United States covers much more aspects of the social and legal life of the state than it might seem at first glance. Not only does this phenomenon reflect the uniqueness of American legislation in the possession and use of weapons by civilians; this problem includes the issue of the relationship of Federal authorities with locals, but also aspects of the public order, and the specificity of the American political system. Tragic incidents regularly occur in the United States, which confronts supporters and opponents of state intervention in the regulation of guns trafficking within the country.
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The first claim that the invasion of the central authorities will only lead to a deterioration of the situation and that only free possession of weapons can guarantee individual independence. The others suppose that Federal control will lead to public peace and improve the efficiency of the system of law and order. The aim of this essay is a comprehensive review of the perspective of those who oppose the gun control, and determination of its viability.
The Main Questions to the Gun Control Initiative
The possession of weapons is not only a right but also a tradition and a symbol of American independence; a symbol whose existence has a solid historical Foundation. For many US citizens, this is as much an essential attribute of the American state as a Federal system and checks and balances system (Kleck, 2018). It is an attribute which a significant part of the country’s civil society considers its duty to fight for.
Over the years, the legislative proposals to restrict access to firearms addressed to the public have raised the following questions: what restrictions on weapons are possible in the context of the US Constitution? Does gun control lead to better crime control? Can national rates of murder, theft, and robbery be reduced by stricter regulation of arms trafficking? Will such restrictions stop attacks on public people, suicides and the terrible crimes of unbalanced people (numerous mass shootings)? And do such restrictions violate the right of citizens to self-defense?
The Second Amendment Argument
Over the past few years, proponents of arms law restrictions have often argued that only Federal laws can work effectively in the United States. Otherwise, these people claim, the States, with their tendency to impose less stringent rules and regulations on arms trafficking, will continue to be the source of the flow of arms that move from one state to another, often illegally (Hemenway, 2017). Proponents of gun control believe that the Second Amendment to the US Constitution is being misinterpreted, as has changed both American society and living conditions.
First, they argue that the Second Amendment is now an outdated vestige of the era of American statehood and that today the role of “well-regulated militia” has shifted to professional law enforcement. Second, the amendment was aimed solely at protecting the local population of the States from attacks on their freedom by the Central government and is thus a very limited enforcement instrument. Thirdly, it does not establish absolute and comprehensive rules. Proponents of tighter gun control wonder why an individual needs a gun in modern society.
Although supporters of expanding freedoms to own and use weapons agree to some extent that some form of control over the circulation of firearms must exist, argue that stringent restrictive measures do not achieve the set goals. They think that this policy does not lead to the reduction of crime and related killings. One of the most common arguments put forward by opponents of arms regulation is that it is as difficult to prevent legal weapons from falling into the hands of unbalanced people and criminals as to stop the underground trade and the consumption of alcohol during the Prohibition.
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Opponents of this view believe that legislation and other state responses should be carried out with greater competence to produce a real result. Throughout the history of America (more specifically since 1934), supporters of tighter firearms control have defended policies to limit the proliferation of these types of weapons, which have become widespread in criminal circles. They have seriously threatened the rule of law and the tranquility of American society.
Thus, at the initiative of supporters of arms control in 1934 and 1938, automatic weapons (including machine guns, which assume exclusively military use), short-barrel rifles, and shotguns were banned (Phillips, 2018). In 1994, after high-profile massacres, bans were imposed on some other weapons. For example, it was imposed on semi-automatic assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, as well as armor-piercing and expansive ammunition (having almost no reasonable explanation for their presence in the civilian market) (Phillips, 2018). These laws were adopted in the vision of the gun control problem as a severe threat to public security.
Established in 1871 and started political lobbying in 1975, the National Rifle Association is perhaps the largest and most influential organization that defends the right to free possession and use of weapons. In 40 years of political career, this organization has concentrated considerable political and financial power in its hands (Hickey, 2013). However, the same cannot be said about organizations and movements on the other side of the barricades.
If the NRA has the support of arms manufacturers, who can sponsor organizations advocating for stricter weapons legislation? The NRA did not have comparable in size and influence opposition organizations that could just as effectively defend their interests until recently. It is not surprising that in 1986 Congress approved the Law on the protection of gun owners (FORA), primarily initiated by the NRA, and R. Reagan, who survived a murderous assault in 1981, signed it without delay. The law also curtailed the powers of the Bureau for the alcohol, tobacco and firearms control.
The NRA has a genuinely enormous influence on political life in the United States of America. Attempts on the most popular American politicians, bloody massacres – now no decision by the Federal government to interfere in the affairs of gun control can ignore the influence of the National Rifle Association. Its activities not only influenced the legislative process of the country, but it has also caused damage to the phenomenon of arms control itself. It led to the fact that no researcher can use the essential empirical data to clarify the nature of the most critical problems of our time, which pose challenges to American civil society.
But these challenges are acute, often even dramatic. The issue of arms control is likely to remain one of the most pressing problems in US society in the near future. However, changes in legislation could reduce tensions if there were a sufficient number of competent professionals and if their initiatives did not rest on a biased economic system.
Hemenway, D. (2017). Private guns, public health. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.
Hickey, W. (2013). How the gun industry funnels tens of millions of dollars to the NRA. Business Insider. Web.
Kleck, G. (2018). Gun control. In M. Deflem, The handbook of social control (p.153). New York, NY: Wiley-Blackwell.
Phillips, C. D. (2018). The politics of firearm safety: An emerging new balance of power. American Journal of Public Health, 108(7), 868-870.