In light of recent events, gun control has become one of the most debated issues in American society, creating two irreconcilable groups for and against heightened firearm regulation. Mass shootings increased gun violence, and general firearm safety issues have created an atmosphere of fear around what was perceived, overall, as the right to defend oneself from external infringement. However, the division of the population into those for gun control and those for gun rights has created tension, while the issue itself remains unresolved. As a measure, gun control remains an ineffective combative practice against the societal problems presented above, which cannot be resolved with the removal of firearms.
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Gun Control: Leading Up to Today
In order to apperceive the present situation of gun control, it is necessary to understand both the current legislature that underlies social problems and the historical context of the point in question. Without a broad historical base, the problem would not be as controversial today, raising many opinions, both pro et contra. Thus, to develop an informed stance on the issue, it is necessary to understand the firearm perception on a cultural level.
Context: Constitution and Religion
The most quoted section of the US Constitution within the gun control issue remains the Second Amendment, which directly advocates the right of the population to carry and use firearms. This statement links directly with Christian viewpoints, which are important because of a US Protestant majority that views “gun control… [as a] granted religious legitimation and [as] intended to guarantee other rights” (Merino, 2018, p. 3).
Therefore, firearm acquisition becomes not just an individual right but a need to defend individuality of self, and thus heightens guns from the status of objects to privilege protectors. Firearms, which have become a foundational issue within American society supported by the Constitution, have successfully resisted removal from public values. Their cultural connotation elevates gun control to an argument equal to the infringement on linchpin points of the US as a country (Henigan, 2016). Altogether, these circumstances already pose the proposition of gun control as a negative concept, breaching individual freedoms and disregarding constitutional and historical contexts of national development.
Public Attention: When and Why?
Mass shootings and abuse of gun rights have brought firearm control to the forefront of social discussion and debate on the constitutionality of their repeal. The creation of measures to control gun acquisition, such as the background checks instituted by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993, has resulted in little change due to their overlooking of private sellers (Bittman & Russell III, 2016).
Interest in gun control considerably rises not only after tragedies but also due to legislation propositions both for and against gun control, with the population attempting to educate themselves on the issue (Laschever, 2017). This kind of interest demonstrates the gravity of the problem within the public eye, and the historical connotation it carries within itself becomes not just a debate but a discussion of national scale.
The Ineffective Mechanism of Gun Control
The causes of armed violence do not lie in the accessibility and usage of weapons but in the individual infringement on the liberties of others. It is often suggested that it is “flawed individuals, family dysfunction, and irreligious societal values [that] are to blame for gun violence” (Merino, 2018, p. 2). This intrinsic thought results in people’s belief that they will be left without protection mean once the firearms are prohibited, and only criminals and those who are ready to break the law will have access to guns (Henigan, 2016).
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Considering the historical context of the US, as well as its developmental trends, these concerns turn into solid cornerstones influencing modern life. The issue of control concurrently becomes a regional one, with “63% of people who live in rural areas prioritizing gun rights over controlling gun ownership, compared with 60% of urban dwellers supporting gun control” (Bittman & Russell III, 2016, p. 112). Therefore, gun control becomes an improbable and even detrimental step within the gun-debate.
Positive Nuances in Gun Control?
Arguments of pro-control advocates provide strong points that allow for an organized and intellectual discussion on the matter at hand. Henigan (2016), as a staunch advocate for gun control, cites numerous ideas to support his position, going so far as to attempt to dispel some of the myths about the pro-gun movement. The slogan “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people” as the trademark of anti-gun control groups, more specifically the National Rifle Association (NRA), is presented as a statement “both true and irrelevant” (Henigan, 2016, p. 36). What the author intends by the rebuttal of this statement is that, even though guns cannot be dangerous when not in use, they give people the idea of permission to harm themselves or others.
It is demonstrative that any object to which humans have access, from addictive substances to power over others, may be referred to as a potential danger. Thus, guns may resolve neither the issue of commodity abuse nor the problem of US gun violence (Bittman & Russell III, 2016). The history of the US war on drugs has shown that the persecution of certain practices does not lead to appropriate societal changes but instead leads to the demeaning of certain strata of the population.
Regulation Effects: Null
The most widespread misconception among gun control supporters is the idea that an increase in the number of laws will be an efficient combating tactic against armed violence. Throughout history, the ineffectiveness of regulation tactics attempted by the government in controlling gun acquisition is evident. These situations happen not only due to the cultural importance assigned to guns within the US but also are a cause of possibly intentional legislative failure (Henigan, 2016). The reluctance of Congress supported by anti-control groups to pass gun-regulating laws predicts the defeat of possible national legislation managing firearm sales (Laschever, 2017).
A disinterest in controlling firearm sales results in what Henigan (2016) describes as a “gun control catch-22,” when an argument about a lack of firearm regulations is used to pass laws that demonstrate their ineffectiveness (p. 62). Thus, if there is a lack of interest in adopting effective rules, legislative change cannot become a useful tactic against firearm-based transgressions.
Controlling firearms becomes a movement that is focused not on social change but on a translation of the blame from acute civil problems on the tools used to propagate them. Therefore, it is possible to entertain the thought that gun control is an attempt to solve social issues through their personalization. Effectively, this movement fails to achieve anything not because of adverse pro-gun social reactions but due to the fact that gun control groups confuse the cause and effect of the problem. Thus, gun control is considered to be an ineffective measure, lacking an achievement of goals of both groups and alternately playing the role of an excuse.
Bittman, B. L., & Russell III, W. B. (2016). I am teaching the gun control debate in an era of mass shootings. In W. Journell (Ed.), Teaching social studies in an era of divisiveness: The challenges of discussing social issues in a non-partisan way (pp. 111-126). New York, NY: Rowman & Littlefield.
Henigan, D. A. (2016). “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”: And other myths about guns and gun control. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
Merino, S. M. (2018). God and guns: Examining religious influences on gun control attitudes in the United States. Religions, 9(6), 1-13. Web.