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Gun control - Research Paper Example

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Name: Subject: Instructor: Date: Gun Control: The Ethical Justification of Possessing Firearms The term gun control is at times understood as a counterpoint to the idea of gun rights, where the former is used to refer to the implementation of strict regulations and policies pertaining to firearm possession, while the latter refers to the position that upholds the presumably inherent right to possess firearms…
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Download file to see previous pages The two sides of the debate showcase significant arguments. On one hand, it is argued that the ownership of firearms is a fundamental right, while on the other it is argued that there is no such fundamental right. Various studies and surveys on the effectiveness, as well as the ineffectiveness, of restrictions have been conducted, only to end inconclusively. A fairly recent survey by the Open Society Institute (2000) merely ranks the states of America based on the degree of toughness of their gun laws. The study states: The most striking results of this survey are a) the lack of uniformity in firearm regulation across the country; b) the enormous differential between the top and bottom of the spectrum; and c) the poor scores achieved by most states (Gun Control in the United States, 2000). These results demonstrate the difficulty and the highly varied attitudes toward gun control, despite arguments appealing to fundamental rights, and empirical data. Perhaps a philosophical examination will provide a sufficient ground for such arguments, particularly from the vantage point of ethical theories. The author attempts to provide an ethical justification for gun control by taking a look at two ethical frameworks: deontological or Kantian ethics, and utilitarian ethics. Ethical Justifications Pertaining to Gun Control: An Analysis As mentioned above, arguments both in favor and against gun control rely on fundamental principles to justify their positions, as well as on empirical, albeit inconclusive studies. But at its base, the issue is one that pertains to restrictions. Hence, if the claims are to be analyzed, it can be said that the propositions: a) “There should be strict and standardized restrictions on gun ownership,” b) “There should not be strict and standardized restrictions on gun ownership.” are both evaluative claims, supportable by properly examined moral or ethical principles, and perceived beneficial consequences. The first proposition draws its strength primarily from the premise that there is no such basic right as to own a gun. The proposition is further supported by the claim that self-defense by way of gun use is counterproductive, since some studies seemed to show that domestic violence is in fact increased as a result of the presence of firearms. The second proposition takes its strength from the premise that there is a fundamental right to own a gun, as stated in the Second Amendment. To push for strict regulation of gun ownership is to infringe on that basic right. It further strengthens its argument by claiming the exact opposite of the first proposition’s claim, that crime incidents are in fact lessened as a result of the presence of guns. In short, the two propositions both give statistics to support their claims. However, the author believes that a potential beneficial consequence must only be highly probable to sufficiently support the claim. From the perspective of Kantian ethics (“Metaphysic of Morals,” 1898), it might be argued that the insistence on having the right to own guns is grounded on the fundamental moral duty of self-preservation. If this idea of self-preservation is extended to accommodate acquiring the means for the latter, then gun ownership is justifiable. An act that is done out of duty has moral weight, as opposed to one that is done only out of conformity to duty ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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