Guns In The United States In today’s society of political turmoil, violence, and economic tragedies, many gun control advocates are pushing for more gun regulations from the government. Guns have been a part of America’s way of life for centuries. However, it was not until the 20th century that the government enacted it’s first gun control act. The National Firearms Act was enacted in 1934, as stated in “Firearm Laws, Regulations, and Ordinances,” edited by Sandra Alters, in response to the increased criminal and gangster activity as a result of prohibition (19).
This act aimed to make it more difficult to acquire specific firearms by establishing a $200 tax on firearms (Alters, ed. 19). In 1968, the Gun Control Act was passed and amended the National Firearms Act of 1934 to include a wider range of firearms. This act was passed in the wake of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. The act required firearm dealers to be federally licensed, restricted interstate sales of firearms, and forbid the sale of firearms to minors or criminals (Alters, ed. 19).
The passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968 was criticized, however. The main criticism involving the Gun Control Act of 1968 was that the act penalized law-abiding citizens and rewarded criminals (Alters, ed. 20). In 1986, the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act greatly amended the Gun Control Act of 1968 in an attempt to address the various criticisms and concerns linked to the act. There have been various gun control regulations enacted since 1986; however, the enactment of the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act is one of the largest regulations ever put into place.
Much of the controversy over gun control laws now and then involves the second amendment to the constitution. Today, lawmakers face much pressure from gun control advocates, as well as anti-gun control advocates regarding gun laws. However, putting more regulations on guns is not going to change the way that people use them, which many gun control advocates believe to be true. There should be no further government gun control in America because additional gun control will not lower violence and it is not financially feasible to enforce additional gun control laws.
The most significant federal gun control act today is the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993, as discussed in James Jacobs and Kimberly Potter’s article “Keeping guns out of the ‘wrong’ hands: the Brady law and the limits of regulation. ” This act requires federal firearm licensees to run background checks on gun sale purchases, and also created a federal database for federal firearm licensee’s access to The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (Jacobs and Potter). A 5-day waiting period for the purchase of a gun was also introduced.
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is to provide access to names of those persons not allowed to purchase a gun (Jacobs and Potter). The aim of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was to prevent criminals, or ineligible persons from purchasing guns. The Brady Act expanded the definition of an ineligible person to include: illegal drug users and addicts, former mental patients, illegal aliens and persons dishonorably discharged from the armed forces (James and Potter). This act, along with the other regulations discussed, form the current federal gun control laws.
One central view of gun control advocates in support of additional gun control is the belief that banning guns would lower violence in America. Stephen E. Wright, writer of “From the Bluff,” claims that the main focus of anti-gun groups is on gun ownership (par. 2). Anti-gun groups claim that if citizens did not own guns, fewer crimes would be committed. Although taking away guns appears to be a good plan to reduce crime, it is not a realistic one. Banning gun ownership could have an effect similar to the Prohibition Act of 1920.
In 1920, the American government put a ban on all alcohol in the United States. One of the central ideas behind the Prohibition Act was to create a safer America for its citizens. The Prohibition Act did not make for a safer America; however, the effect of the Prohibition act was the development of widespread organized crime, resulting in a increase in the number of criminals. Jeff Hill, writer of “Defining Moment Prohibition,” explains, widespread disregard for the prohibition act resulted in corruption of government officials, police forces and law enforcement (75).
Government statistics show that crime actually rose during the prohibition years, contrary to what the government believed would occur (Hill, 76). The banning of guns could have the same effect as the Prohibition of alcohol. Prohibiting guns could create more widespread organized crime and an increased number of criminals, as it would be a criminal act to purchase or own a gun. While the idea that fewer guns would lead to less violence in America seems reasonable, when the effects of the Prohibition Act of 1920 are considered, it is seen that the prohibition of guns may have very negative consequences.
Another common belief of gun control advocates is that increased purchasing regulations will help prevent gun violence. The general current regulation system for purchasing guns consists of a simple background check, usually on the first purchase of a gun, with a 5-day waiting period. In the Opposing Viewpoint article “An updated Background Check System Will Help Prevent Gun Violence,” the editor explains that the current background check system needs to be fixed (par. 11). The various loopholes in the current background system are a main focus of the gun control advocates.
To fix the various loopholes, gun control advocates believe the government should gather everyone’s name that should be prohibited from buying a gun and put him or her in the system for tracking and they should require a background check for every single gun sale, not just on the first purchase (An Updated Background). The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act fixed these issues presented through the National Instant Criminal Background System Check (Jacobs and Potter). Gun control advocates viewed the Brady Act as a positive step towards lowering violence in America.
However, the act has not reduced gun violence like gun control advocates believed would occur. The view that the Brady Act was a simple solution to the gun violence problem is not only false, but also creates great expense for the government. The problem related to gun violence is not the current background check system; instead the problem lies in the use of illegal guns. Amy Roberts, writer of By the Numbers: Guns in America, explains that each year an estimated 40 percent of all guns purchased in America are through unlicensed, private sellers (Roberts).
Thousands of gun shows are held each year in America; it is at these gun shows where thousands of guns are bought and sold illegally each year. Most gun vendors at these shows do not require any background check. Many gun control advocates feel that many of the murders and shootings in America would not have happened if a background check was ran on the individual purchasing the gun. When a gun is bought illegally, there is no background check. The seller has no way of knowing if the buyer is a criminal. An example of the violence related to the use of illegal guns is he Columbine High School shooting in Colorado. The Columbine killers were able to purchase guns illegally at a gun show from an unlicensed seller, who required no personal information before selling the guns (An Updated Background). This example shows how easily one can obtain a gun illegally; no increased purchasing regulation would have stopped the Columbine killers from purchasing guns. Increasing purchasing regulations will not stop a criminal from getting a gun. Obtaining a gun illegally is so easy that a criminal wouldn’t even think to go through a registered firearms dealer.
Gun control advocates’ views on gun control laws and the prevention of violence only lead to increased spending by the federal government. The federal deficit today is around 16 trillion dollars and growing. The view of the Brady Act as a simple solution to the gun violence problem has been proven not to be true, as mentioned earlier. The Brady Act presents various loopholes through which greater enforcement could prevent. One loophole presented by the Brady Act is the federal licensing system (Jacobs and Potter). Practically anyone can become federally licensed by paying a small fee and submitting required information.
There is also no way to determine if an applicant has lied upon submission of their information for federal licensing. Inspections are rarely conducted upon the federal firearm licensees to ensure cooperation regarding the Brady Act (Jacobs and Potter). The federal government could increase regulation regarding the federal licensing system to ensure proper Brady Act enforcement, but this requires increased spending. Greater information requirements and increased inspections would require increased data processing and hiring of federal inspectors, both requiring greater spending.
The introduction of new gun control acts would require even greater spending than required through greater enforcement of the Brady Act, which is already in place. The recession has placed an enormous strain on federal funds. Increased enforcement of gun regulations is not seen as the greatest need at this time for government spending. There should be no further government gun control in America because additional gun control will not lower violence and it is not financially feasible to enforce additional gun control laws.
The main arguments in support of additional gun control are: banning guns would lower violence and increased purchase regulations would help prevent gun violence; however, these arguments are insufficient. There are potentially negative effects regarding the banning of guns, compared to the Prohibition era. Also, the increased purchasing regulations do not fix the problem of violence related to gun control because of the illegal or “black” gun market. Greater enforcement of the increased purchasing regulations could curb the use of current loopholes.
However, greater enforcement leads to greater spending by the federal government. Greater enforcement also does not deal with the “black” market for guns. In the current state of the economy it is important that the government focus on decreased spending or spending to pull the United States out of the recession. Focusing on increased gun control is not of any benefit to the economy. Increased government spending through greater enforcement of increased gun control laws is not necessary to lower violence, instead focus should be shifted to alternative ways for reducing violence in the United States.
By focusing on informing people on gun safety and gun laws, a new path may be made for the younger generation. Works Cited “An Updated Background Check System Will Help Prevent Gun Violence. ” Guns and Crime. Ed. Christine Watkins. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2012. At Issue. Rpt. from “A Plan to Prevent Future Tragedies. ” MayorsAgainstIllegalGuns. org. 2011. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 1 Nov. 2012. “Firearm Laws, Regulations, and Ordinances. ” Gun Control: Restricting Rights or Protecting People?. Sandra M. Alters. 2009 ed.
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