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In short, more thorough background checks of those people who wish to buy guns is a necessity for stricter gun control due to the increased level of crimes involving guns in our communities. However, as DeConde (2001) notes, ‘no social issue of recent decades has produced more distorted data and contention among Americans than the struggle to control gun violence’ (p. 3), and so the issue is far from simple. There are well over 200 million guns in the United States (far more than in other developed countries) while the gun laws are comparatively weak. Canter ( 2006) found that when the US is compared to other economically-developed and democratically-governed countries, the age-adjusted rate of death by firearms is eight times as high as the average of the other countries pooled together. It is obvious that current background checks are not good enough. The massacre at Virginia Tech in April 2007, which left 32 staff and students dead, was carried out using two weapons, both of which was purchased completely legally at local stores. The killer had, two years earlier, been declared mentally ill and a danger to himself by a judge. This alone should surely have disqualified him from purchasing firearms, but he was never placed on a list banning him from buying guns in Virginia. The issue here was surely the vastly-different state laws on gun controls. What is needed is strong national laws, and checks conducted using nationwide databases. Fig. 1. The Geography of Gun Deaths in America. Source: atangledweb.org [Accessed January 27 2011] Background checks as a feature of the gun control debates in the United States date all the way back to the 1930s, when the District of Columbia introduced a 48-hour cooling off period for the purchase of firearms. Indeed, until the 1970s, the National Rifle Assocation (NRA) – the leading group in the pro-gun lobby, actually supported such policies. From 1986, there was a nationwide campaign for the introduction of a waiting period on all gun purchases, and in 1993, the passage of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act established a 5-day waiting period, during which time background checks were to be conducted to ascertain whether a gun could responsibly be sold to the applicant. Spitzer (2002) produced a list of the reasons for which a gun purchase could be blocked: if the applicant had been convicted of a crime carrying a sentence of more than a year, if a restraining order had been placed against them for violence, if they had been convicted of domestic abuse, if they had been arrested for using or selling banned substances, if they were deemed to be mentally unstable, or if they were an illegal alien (p. 51).The Brady Act is held to have had some effect on firearm-related violence. Canter (2006) noted that the number of deaths by guns fell from 37,776 in 1992 to 32,436 in 1997 (p. 3). Nevertheless, this can scarcely be hailed as the major breakthrough in tackling gun crime which is needed in the United States. While the Supreme Court struck down the requirement for police to conduct background checks in 1997, handgun background checks have largely continued. In theory, all this should have done much to ensure that only those who could safely be sold a handgun would be able to procure one. However, there have been major issues. In 1998, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) set up its National Instant Criminal Background
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Same is the case with the policies of America on gun control which has now been assumed as a major issue affecting the images of American Democracy. Even the political parties in America, especially, the two prominent— the Democratic and the Republicans take different stands concerning this issue.
A conflict of interests therefore seems to arise between the two positions. On a theoretical level however, it can be seen that the fundamental issue is one of control and restriction: What is the justifiable degree of restriction appropriate to gun ownership and use?
Because of this, advocates of gun control argue that lowering the prevalence of guns will decrease the number of violent crimes. Despite the range of gun control laws present, studies of gun control have not confirmed that it has any relation on violent crime. Furthermore, gun control takes away the ability of citizens to defend themselves.
Citizens are allowed to carry guns as keeping arms is considered a right of people for personal safety. Gun control debate is not easy to tackle with as both sides of the battle are strong on their part to argue for and against gun control. In the United States, this issue has been a conflict between the public safety and personal freedom.
For instance, many countries such as the United Kingdom restrict citizens from owning personal firearms. However, the government of the United States has limited restrictions; hence, many people own personal firearms for varied reasons such as security purposes.
Those who are in favor of gun ownership argue that the same can protect the civilians from aggression. On the other side, those who are in favor of gun control argue that gun control can reduce violence in the society. Still, modest restrictions on civilian gun ownership prove that the same cannot guarantee the lives of civilians in general.
Spanning a time period of several decades, the debate as to whether restrict or avail gun power, continues to elicit both vocal opposition as well as great proposition. This debate has constantly witnessed a stalemate; as is provided for by the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution, which provides for the right to bear arms vis-a-vis the Federal government’s role and responsibility towards preventing crime, especially that of a violent nature.
The very idea of gun reflects a sign of danger and a common man feels endangered whenever he confronts a gun. It has been witnessed that the Americans have been in possession of private guns more than any developed economies. At present more than one-third of the American households possess a working firearm.
Currently, both the national and state governments have provisions concerning gun ownership. However, there is a diverse opinion of states over the issue. Some states lack any form of regulation while others have stringent gun control laws. Although the gun control laws came into place in order to curb murder rates, an analysis into the realistic data reveals otherwise.