Not so long ago, I have had an argument with my friend on the topic of gun laws and gun regulation. My friend stated that gun laws should be less strict than they are now so that more people could have guns for self-defense, and gun violence could be reduced. I stated the opposite. Inspired by that conversation, I have decided to conduct some literature research on this topic and shed light on both sides of the debate. And although it is almost impossible to determine who is right since both sides have strong arguments, I still tend to conclude that more guns will not reduce violence but will only increase it instead.
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The first argument, which I often hear as a supporter of gun control (not only from the friend I have had an argument with but from a lot of other people) is that it is not a gun that kills, that is an individual who does it. In other words, even if fewer guns are available, people who want to kill or harm others will do it anyway, and vice versa, even if all of us are allowed to have guns, people who have no murderous intent will never do it. So, stricter gun laws and regulations will not help. This conclusion seems logical at first sight; however, it is not entirely right. The truth is guns make crimes easier.
They enable people to destroy dozens of lives in just a few minutes. If a murderer has a knife, for instance, he or she will cause one or two deaths before getting caught, but with a gun, the number of victims can vastly increase (Marcotte par. 4). As Marcotte says in her article, relying only on the fact that “someone does or does not have murderous intent” is almost the same as claiming that “a knife and a gun are equivalent weapons” (par. 4).
In addition, it is not rare that guns are used in the heat of passion or accidentally. They also make suicides easier and increase the number of those; in accordance with Phillips’s article in The Washington Post, almost 60% of all gun-related deaths in 2013 were suicides (par. 11). Therefore, we can not deny that as long as there is a gun, there is a risk that it will be used.
Another widespread argument in favor of gun possession is the healthy balance between the number of guns in the hands of bad and good people. In other words, “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” (Marcotte par. 5). So, if the laws allow more of us to possess guns, we will be safer. In reality, it does not work in this way. Even if “a good guy” manages to stop a shooter, it usually happens only after a crime is already committed, so it does not save any lives (Marcotte par. 5). None of the mass shootings in the past thirty years was stopped by an armed civilian (Marcotte par. 5). Moreover, shooting back usually only worsens the situation creates chaos, and causes numerous unnecessary deaths (Marcotte par. 5).
The statistic proves that more guns fail to reduce the number of crimes and seem to increase it instead. Surely, all we can rely on our surveys and studies, and those do not show the whole picture since it is impossible to know real gun ownership rates, and so on (Lott 37). However, the general tendency is evident. Presently, the USA is definitely leading in the number of guns. As Phillips shows, approximately 89% of the US citizens owe firearms, which is more than the number of adults in the country (par. 6). At the same time, the firearm homicide rate in America is the highest among developed countries, even though the general crime rate is not the highest (Phillips par. 7).
The conclusion that arises from these facts has been proven by the researchers many times. Mark Duggan, for example, has shown that there is a direct proportionality between an increase in gun ownership and the rise of the homicide levels (1112). Gun laws, in their turn, indeed can make a difference. As Phillips says, the research has shown that states with stricter gun control laws have a less number of gun-related deaths (par. 11).
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Besides, many gun laws have been proven to be effective and decrease the number of homicides. And not all of them actually prohibit guns. The prime example is a series of conceal-and-carry laws, which John Lott Jr. in his book The Bias Against Guns proves to be effective in reducing crime, even though they increase the number of gun owners, not decrease it (Phillips par. 10).
To conclude, the issue of gun possession and control is unclear. It becomes even more difficult because we can never know the real picture relying only on surveys and statistics, which do not always reflect reality correctly (Lott 37). Besides, both people who are for gun control and those who are against it have strong points in the debate. However, gun ownership should definitely be regulated by laws, and, considering all arguments mentioned above, I do not think that those laws should be less strict than they are now. Finally, both supporters and opponents of gun control are motivated by the same factor: they strive to decrease the number of people who die because of firearms, and they are right on this point.
Duggan, Mark. “More Guns, More Crime.” Journal of Political Economy 109.5 (2001): 1086-1114. Print.
Lott, John R. More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws. 3rd ed. 2013. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press. Print.
Marcotte, Amanda. 4 Pro-Gun Arguments We’re Sick of Hearing 2015. Web.
Phillips, Amber. The gun control debate, explained in 5 questions 2015. Web.