English Composition II
13 April 1995
Thesis Statement: Society benefits from firearms in the hands of responsible citizens. Attempts to keep firearms away from these citizens do more harm than good.
Gun control is not one issue, but many. To some people gun control is a crime issue, to others it is a rights issue. Gun control is a safety issue, an education issue, a racial issue, and a political issue, among others. Within each of these issues there are those who want more gun control legislation and those who want less. On both sides of this issue opinions range from moderate to extreme.
Guns are not for everyone. Certain individuals cannot handle a firearm safely, and some individuals choose to use firearms inappropriately. Our society has passed laws regulating the ownership and use of firearms, and more legislation is being considered. Most of this legislation restricts, to some degree, the rights of individuals to possess or use firearms. Some restrictions may be necessary, but some recent legislation has gone too far. Society benefits from firearms in the hands of responsible citizens. Attempts to keep firearms away from these citizens do more harm than good.
To begin with, a definition of a "responsible citizen" is in order. The definition used in this paper was provided by Steve Rusiecki, a local police officer. When asked what makes someone a responsible citizen in regard to firearms ownership, Mr. Rusiecki replied, "The citizen must be law-abiding, with no felony record, must not abuse alcohol or drugs, must not be mentally ill, must not have renounced U.S. citizenship, must not have been dishonorably discharged from the military, and must be in the U.S. legally" (10). This definition combines elements from the Federal Gun Control Act of 1968, and Arizona's concealed carry law.
The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution states: "A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." The Founding Fathers included this in our Bill of Rights because they feared the Federal Government might oppress the population if the people did not have the means to defend themselves as a nation and as individuals (Halbrook 65-84). This idea was not new. The Founding Fathers' thoughts on the right to keep and bear arms were influenced by Aristotle, Cicero, John Locke, and Algernon Sidney (7).
The militia referred to cannot be construed as meaning the Army or National Guard, in the words of Samuel Adams: "The Militia is composed of free citizens" (qtd. in Halbrook 62). Additionally, George Mason considered a "well regulated Militia" to be one "composed of . . . Gentlemen, Freeholders, and other Freemen" (qtd. in Halbrook 61). The Revolutionary War was won with the help of "An armed populace composed of partisans, militias, independent companies, and the continental army . . ." (63). It is obvious from this that the Founding Fathers thought that society benefited from firearms in the hands of the people.
Many years later we began placing restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms. The first restrictions concerned the manner in which citizens could carry arms. In 1850 the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that the constitution did not grant the right to carry a concealed weapon; although earlier court cases had ruled that the constitution did protect the right to carry concealed weapons (93-96). Shortly before the Civil War, some southern States passed legislation denying slaves and freed blacks the right to possess firearms. The basis of this legislation was the Dred Scott Decision. They reasoned that since blacks were not considered citizens they did not have the rights of citizens, including the right to keep and bear arms (96-98). The gun control legislation of this era resulted from prejudice against an entire race of people. These laws were in effect until after the Civil War when the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution were ratified. The legislation referred to here must be considered harmful to society.
The rational given for most modern gun control legislation is "Crime Control." The Brady Bill is one example. The Brady Bill is named after James Brady, who was shot by John Hinckley during an assassination attempt on President Reagan in 1981. Supporters of the Brady Bill used that incident to gain support for their gun control legislation, claiming it would reduce crime and save lives. The fact is that the background check and waiting period included in the Brady Bill would not have prevented John Hinckley from legally purchasing the handgun used in that incident. Records show that "a police background was run on Hinckley four days before he purchased the revolver he used to shoot President Reagan and Jim Brady. The check showed he had no felony convictions in any jurisdiction. Neither had Hinckley any public record of mental illness" ("Guns" 51).
An even greater shortcoming of the Brady Bill is that it only affects legal transactions. By definition, a criminal is someone who breaks the law. Criminals have many ways to obtain weapons without going through the process mandated by the Brady Bill. Two obvious examples are theft and black market purchases. According to studies "only one firearm of every six used in a crime is obtained legally" (Thomas 277). Since the passage of the Brady Bill, only four felons have been apprehended trying to purchase a firearm (NRA, "Grassfire"). When I asked Steve Rusiecki for a policeman's opinion of the Brady Bill, he replied: "I think it is an emotional attempt at crime reduction rather than one based on legitimate facts" (6). In view of the facts presented, it is obvious that the Brady Bill is not an effective crime prevention tool.
The Brady Bill is not effective in fighting crime, but it does affect crime victims. The five-day waiting period during which the police conduct the background check is also supposed to serve as a "cooling off" period to prevent crimes of passion. Fortunately, this five-day wait is waived in states like Virginia which have an instant background check system in place. The following article is an example of how waiting periods affect crime victims:
Marine Cpl. Rayna Ross of Woodbridge, Virginia, might be dead if a waiting period had been in effect. Instead, the instant check system in place in that state allowed her to defend her life against a former boyfriend three days after she purchased a pistol. The man, a Marine under orders to stay away from Ross because of previous assaults and threats, broke through a door and rushed into her bedroom with a bayonet. Ross fired twice, mortally wounding him. The shooting was ruled to be a case of self-defense ("Armed Citizen").
If the five-day waiting period had been in effect, it is likely that an innocent woman would have been killed. During the debate in Congress over the passage of the Brady Bill, supporters claimed passing the bill would be worth it "if it saved just one life." Surely the bill is not worth it if it costs just one innocent life.
Another example of gun control legislation that affects the wrong people is the "Assault Weapon" ban included in the Crime Bill of 1994. While supporters of the ban claim the firearms banned by this bill are the "weapons of choice" of gangs and drug dealers, the FBI Uniform Crime Reports show this contention is unfounded (Rusiecki 7). However, at Congressional hearings held on March 31of this year, several people testified that they had used guns which are now banned to defend their lives and to prevent crimes ("Survival"). It is fortunate that these citizens had firearms to defend themselves. Society does not benefit from the death or serious injury of innocent citizens.
As mentioned earlier, crime is not the only issue related to firearms ownership. Hunting is a popular sport and, in some parts of the country, an important source of food. On the surface, it might appear that hunting is harmful to wildlife and the environment. The fact is that the opposite is true. Wildlife biologists have found that well managed and regulated hunting programs are beneficial to wildlife. If the wildlife population becomes too large, food becomes scarce and the population starves to death. Wildlife biologists take counts of game animals in a given area and study the habitat to determine the population level it can support. Then they make recommendations to State Game and Fish officials who set hunting seasons and bag limits. Hunting is a tool used by these officials to manage the wildlife under their care ("Arizona" 18).
Non-game wildlife is also protected by hunters, and even by firearms owners who do not hunt. Approximately 77% of the funds used to operate state Fish and Game and other wildlife agencies are derived from the sales of hunting licenses, excise taxes levied on sales of firearms and ammunition, and the sale of federal duck stamps. More than three billion dollars have been raised from these sources and used to protect both game and non-game animals (22). Firearms ownership is clearly beneficial to the environment and a good environment is beneficial to everyone.
Firearms are also used in competitive sports. The Olympic Games include competitions with pistols, rifles, and shotguns. Shooting is also part of the biathlon and has been part of the Olympic pentathlon since 1912 ("Pentathlon"). There are also many competitions throughout the country in bull's eye, bench rest, silhouette, practical pistol, trap and skeet, and other shooting sports. Men, women, older children, and even individuals with certain disabilities can enjoy these sports since shooting does not require much agility or physical strength.
Even without formal competition, shooting can be enjoyed as a hobby. Recreational shooting may involve paper targets, tin cans, or other suitable targets. This hobby can be enjoyed at indoor target ranges, but is usually practiced outdoors. In fact, shooting can often be combined with other enjoyable outdoor activities, such as hiking, camping, and sight seeing.
Shooting is a relatively inexpensive activity which the entire family can enjoy. With close supervision, children can be taught to shoot. Learning how to shoot safely means learning about responsibility, and the time spent teaching a child to shoot is quality time. When a child is ready, they may be allowed to shoot with less supervision. When this time comes, the child knows they have earned their parent's trust and they gain a sense of self-confidence. Sharing a hobby like shooting can bring a family closer together, teach children responsibility, and promote trust between parents and children. This is definitely good for society.
Throughout history violence has plagued the human race. Since ancient times the strong have preyed on the weak and the meek. We have passed laws to protect society, but the violence continues. Laws attempt to change human behavior, but laws are not able to change human nature. Laws are not enough to protect people from aggression. We must allow people the means to protect themselves. Protection is a major reason that about half of all Americans own a firearm (Lester 30).
It is a fact that not all people are the same size or possess the same amount of strength. Sometimes people must defend themselves from stronger aggressors, or sometimes from multiple aggressors. This is especially true for women since they are, on average, smaller than men. Also, older people are generally less able physically to defend themselves than young adults are. Everyone deserves to be safe, but not everyone has the physical ability to defend themselves. Firearms are the most effective tools used today for self-defense, but they are only useful if they are available.
Statistics show that people who are attacked by a criminal are safer if they use a weapon to resist their attacker than if they do not resist. In addition, those who resist with a gun are less likely to be injured than those who use a less effective weapon, such as a knife (Quigley 14). Resisting crime with a gun does not always mean shooting the criminal. Statistics show that in true life instances of self-defense with firearms, firing the gun was necessary only one third to one half of the time (13), the rest of the time the mere presence of a gun was enough to scare away the attacker.
Guns are an effective deterrent to crime. A study involving convicted felons showed that nearly 40 percent of them had decided against committing a specific crime because they suspected their intended victim might be armed (14). In 1966 the Police Department in Orlando, Florida, offered a well-publicized self-defense shooting program to women. As a result, the rate of rape in that city decreased from thirty-six per year to only four. This was accomplished without any of the women shooting anyone or even pulling a gun on anyone. The publicity alone was enough to discourage potential rapists (15-17). Rape and other violent crimes should not be tolerated in any society. It has been shown that firearms are a deterrent to these crimes; therefore, firearms are beneficial to society.
The Brady Bill and the "Assault Weapon" ban in last year's Crime Bill are examples of bad legislation, but some good firearms-related legislation was also passed last year. The Arizona Legislature recognized the benefits of firearms to our society and passed a law which enables many Arizona residents to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon. There are restrictions in place to ensure that only responsible citizens are issued a permit. These restrictions cover age, criminal record, and mental competency. Applicants for this permit must pass a sixteen-hour training course. In addition, the applicant must send a copy of their fingerprints to the Department of Public Safety to be used to help them conduct a background check (Korwin 150-151).
It is too early to determine the effectiveness of Arizona's Concealed Carry Law, but statistics show that a similar law passed in Florida in 1987 has been effective in reducing crime. Between 1987 and 1992 murders involving handguns decreased 29 percent (Francis). According to the National Rifle Association, the homicide rate is 31% lower, and robbery rate is 36% lower in states with "favorable carry laws" compared to states with "restrictive concealed carry laws" (NRA, "Fact Card"). Some people may fear that citizens with concealed weapons are more likely to commit crimes, but statistics show that only .007% of the concealed weapon permits issued in the state of Florida have had to be revoked because of a crime committed by the permit holder (NRA, "Fact Card"). Laws that reduce violent crime are good for society, and concealed carry laws have been shown to reduce violent crime.
The Founding Fathers of our country won our freedom with firearms. After we won our independence the Founding Fathers included the right to keep and bear arms in the Constitution to ensure that the freedom they fought for would last. Throughout the history of this country firearms have been used to defend that freedom from both foreign aggressors and from violent criminal aggressors. Americans own and use firearms for many reasons, such as; hunting, organized sports competitions, informal recreational uses, and for protection. Some legislation has been passed recently which restricts our firearms rights, and the shortcomings of these laws have been exposed. Fortunately, there has also been good legislation passed, like Arizona's Concealed Carry Law, which give residents of this state a better chance to defend themselves against violent crime.
I recognize that criminals have misused firearms, often with tragic results, but I must point out that a few individuals committed those crimes. We should punish the individuals who commit these crimes, and we should imprison those who pose a threat to society so that they do not have the opportunity to cause harm. Punishing law-abiding citizens by passing restrictive gun laws is wrong. Guns are not the cause of this country's crime problem. Criminals are. Effective crime control legislation must control criminals, not guns. Effective crime control legislation should provide more prisons to lock up these criminals, and more police officers to deter crime and capture criminals. Effective crime control legislation should give the law-abiding citizens of our country the means to defend themselves. It should not restrict the rights of responsible citizens to own or carry firearms. The best way to ensure good legislation is to elect good legislators, I believe this is what happened last November 8.
Firearms can be dangerous in the wrong hands, that is why I believe firearms training is important. The best training consists of parents passing on our firearms heritage, respect for people and property, and some common sense safety rules to their children. For many people this training will be enough. Formal firearms training courses, like Hunter Safety Courses and the course required to obtain a concealed carry permit, are also very useful. These courses reinforce the basic safety rules that everyone who handles firearms should know. They also teach the legal requirements specific to hunting or self-defense, depending on the course.
Society does benefit from firearms in the hands of responsible citizens. It is our responsibility to use them properly and safely.
Arizona Hunter Education Manual. Seattle: Outdoor Empire Publishing, Inc., 1993.
"Armed Citizen." American Rifleman October 1993: 8.
Francis, Samuel. "The Truth and Tripe About Concealed Weapon Carry Laws." The Mohave Valley Daily News. 16 March 1995: A4.
"Guns, Bias and the Evening News." American Rifleman January/February 1995: 50-51.
Halbrook, Stephen. That Every Man be Armed. Albuquerque: University Of New Mexico Press, 1984.
Korwin, Alan. The Arizona Gun Owner's Guide. Phoenix: Bloomfield Press, 1994.
Lester, David. Gun Control Issues and Answers. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas, 1984.
NRA Institute for Legislative Action. "NRA Firearms Fact Card - 1995." Computer file downloaded from GUN-TALK BBS.
---. "NRA Grassfire!." Vol. 1, No. 4. April 1995: Computer file downloaded from GUN-TALK BBS .
"Pentathlon." Microsoft Bookshelf '94. Computer Software. CD-ROM. Microsoft Corporation, 1994. IBM PC.
Quigley, Paxton. Armed & Female. New York: St. Martins, 1989.
Rusiecki, Steve. Personal interview conducted 4 March 1995. 26 questions.
"Survival of the Armed: Hearing Reviews Gun Laws." The Arizona Republic April 1, 1995: A4.
Thomas, Andrew Peyton. Crime and the Sacking of America: The Roots of Chaos. Washington: Brassey's, 1994.
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Argumentative Essay on Gun Control
Gun control is a controversial subject in the United States of America. In the wake of so many tragic mass shootings, like the recent Las Vegas Shooting, the conversation tends to pull in two directions: Those who believe gun laws should be less strict and those pushing for more restrictions.
When you are writing a gun control argumentative essay, you are free to take any side you want, unless your instructor specifically tells you to take a certain side. What matters is that whichever position you choose, ensure you have good points and supporting facts.
In this gun control essay, I have decided to take a pro gun control approach: strict regulation up to and including an outright ban on firearms. In fact, my thesis statement for this for argumentative essay is stricter gun control laws should be enacted and implemented if the United States is to solve the problem of mass shootings and reduce crime within its borders.
My essay is divided into three basic parts, the introduction, the body and the conclusion.
Here is my gun control argumentative essay. Enjoy!
Stricter Gun Control Laws Should Be Adopted
The pervasive gun culture in the United States of America is a creation of the country’s frontier expansion, revolutionary roots, colonial history, and the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment stipulates, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” (Cornell.edu, 2017). The argument fronted by proponents of stricter gun control laws is that the amendment targeted militias and not the common citizen. They are of the view that gun control restrictions have always been there and that they serve to enhance the security of the country and the various states. The opponents however argue that through the provisions of the Second Amendment, individuals have the right to own guns. Their view is that individuals need guns for self-defense and that gun ownership thwarts criminal activities. This paper argues that stricter gun control laws should be enacted and implemented if the United States is to solve the problem of mass shootings and reduce crime within its borders (my argumentative essay thesis statement).
On 1st October, 2017, the US witnessed one of the worst mass shooting incidences in its history, probably the worst. The shooting, as observed by Swift (2017), was conducted by a common US citizen who was a gun owner. Following the incidence, there has been rage and confusion all over the country as to whether the gun control debate is still relevant. A whopping 59 people died in the incidence with 500 others sustaining serious injuries (Swift, 2017). This incidence alone, the Second Amendment notwithstanding, tells why the country is in dire need of very strict gun control laws. Nothing can compensate for human life and it is even worse when life is lost at the hands of another human being. It becomes more serious when one person decides to kill, without stopping to think, as many people as time and other factors would allow them to! The latest gun incidence is a clear sign that the threat of lives being lost due to misuse of personal guns is more real than the threat of one losing their life due to lack of self-defense.
Given the latest mass shooting incidence, together with such other past incidences, it could be safely argued that the Second Amendment is being misinterpreted to mean what the framers of the Constitution never intended nor meant. It is high time that the three branches of the federal government, together with the states, sought a clear reinterpretation of “well-regulated militia”. It cannot be that those who effected this amendment “authorized” what was recently witnessed in Las Vegas. As pointed out by Insana (2017), “The Founding Fathers, who lived before the invention of the Gatling gun, could not have envisioned civilians commanding the right to hunt turkeys, or humans, with modern ferocity”. The Second Amendment is surely not a leeway for citizens to have unlimited rights to own guns. A well-regulated militia should imply that a state, or the country, adequately serves its law enforcement agencies with the right ammunition and weaponry so as to ensure security. This has however unfortunately been misinterpreted to mean anyone can own a gun.
Stricter gun control laws would reduce deaths resulting from individually owned guns. Street (2016) reports that between 1999 and 2013, the number of gun deaths totaled to 464,033. Out of this, 270,237 were gun suicide cases, 9,983 were unintentional deaths, while 174,773 were homicides. It is thus crystal clear that mass shooting is not the only way in which guns are being used for the wrong purposes. It is emerging that giving an American citizen the right to own a gun is akin to giving them a shorter way of executing their evil plan of killing themselves, if they had it that is. If a gun is meant for self-defense and crime prevention, isn’t gun suicide the exact opposite of this? As a matter of fact, one would be safer from their own selves without a gun than with a gun. This is why it should be made tremendously difficult for people to acquire guns.
Opponents of gun control laws argue that introduction of such laws would deny people a sense of safety by infringing upon their right to self-defense. This argument is oblivious of the fact that weak gun control laws compromise even the safety of the gun holder himself or herself (Purcell, 2013). Moreover, it is the role of the federal government to ensure that every American citizen is always safe irrespective of the part of the country they find themselves. Building and maintaining strong security agencies is enough to ensure this. On the same note, the “right to self-defense” argument would lose its meaning if an individual cannot first of all defend themselves against themselves. When a person knowingly or unknowingly harms themselves using a gun they own, it means they lack the very self-defense they acquired the gun for.
The enactment and implementation of very strict gun control laws by the US is long overdue. People cannot continue butchering innocent citizens in the name of enjoying the provisions of the Second Amendment. If it is the Second Amendment that is creating all this loss of life and lawlessness, it should be thoroughly reinterpreted so that it works in the best interest of all Americans. Nobody has the right of taking their own life and that of others. It is sad that gun ownership perpetuates this phenomenon. This discussion reveals that gun ownership is neither promoting self-defense nor deterring crime but promoting the same.
Cornell.edu. (2017). Second Amendment. LII / Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 20 October 2017, from https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/second_amendment
Insana, R. (2017). The Time for Polite Debate on Gun Control Is Over. CNBC. Retrieved 20 October 2017, from https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/05/the-time-for-polite-debate-on-gun-control-is-over.html
Purcell, T. (2013). Shotgun Republic: The Gun Control Debate. North Charleston, SC: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Street, C. (2016). Gun Control: Guns in America, the Full Debate, More Guns Less Problems? No Guns No Problems?. North Charleston, SC: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Swift, H. (2017). Gunman’s Girlfriend Arrives in U.S. and Is Expected to Be Questioned. Nytimes.com. Retrieved 20 October 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/03/us/las-vegas-shooting-live-updates.html
A break down of my gun control argumentative essay
APA, 6th Edition
Stricter Gun Control Laws Should Be Adopted
I have tried to design the introduction in such a way that it attracts the attention of the reader and gives him an idea of the essay’s focus. My first sentence comprises of some startling information: The pervasive gun culture in the United States of America is a creation of the country’s frontier expansion, revolutionary roots, colonial history, and the Second Amendment. It is not totally new information to the readers. In fact, it is a pertinent fact that explicitly illustrates the point that I wish to make. It is followed by a sentence of elaboration. In addition, I have tried to ground the reader with some information that is relevant to understand my thesis. Lastly, I have finished my paragraph with a thesis statement for my argumentative essay.
The body of my gun control essay contains reasons + evidence to support my thesis. Each body paragraph begins with a topic sentence that identifies the main idea of that paragraph. If you have read the essay, you can see that my explanations try to answer a simple question: how does this evidence support my thesis?
I have tried to sum up my points and provide a final perspective on gun control in an effort to bring closure to the reader. I have reviewed my main points, trying not restate them exactly, and tried to briefly describe my feelings concerning the topic. I was unable to find a good anecdote that would have ended my essay in a useful way.
Though, I won’t recommend it, I have used some news articles from cnbc and nytimes as part of my references. I would advise you to go for more credible sources such as peer reviewed articles and journals.
Would you like to read an abortion argumentative essay?
Let me hear your thoughts (suggestions, complaints and compliments are welcome).