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Gun Violence and Control in America

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Tragedies in America have led our nation to analyze firearm legislation. The media exploits the harm done by firearms, but fails to look at where these guns are coming from and where the issues start.

It has been shown that most gun crime in the United States is committed by people that aren't legally supposed to have guns in the first place. Data from the Centers for Disease Control show us that in 2010, there were a total of 31,672 deaths caused by firearms in the United States, of which only 11,078 were homicidal acts. According to the 1997 Survey of State Prison Inmates, during the offense that brought them to prison, only 2 percent carried a military-style semiautomatic gun, of which there was a proposal to ban this type of gun to citizens of the U.S.

Only about one out of every six firearms that was used in a crime was obtained legally. Illegal weapons usually are second hand, which makes them cheaper than getting a gun legally. One main source for guns to make it into this underground economy is by theft, with more than 500,000 stolen every year. Another main source is through unregulated secondary market sales.

If guns became illegal in the United States, or banned in certain areas, the law-abiding citizens would be without their guns to be used in a safe manner, while the criminals would still find ways to get their hands on guns, this time knowing that victims won't have anything to protect themselves with.

There is already a supply of firearms in black market circulation. Once a firearm makes it into the black market, they are past the control of the government and can then be resold illegally to other clients for the rest of existence.

The threat to our society today lies in the criminal acquisition of firearms. One place we can look for guidance in legislation is any place that has had a strict gun policy. One city that has had a gun ban in the past is Chicago. There is no direct test of the influence that the handgun ban in Chicago had in reducing the gun availability, but it was shown that the ban was ineffective in reducing gun ownership in the city. I read an article on the gun law and violence in Chicago. An excerpt from the article is shown here:

"Chicago has the strongest gun control regime in the nation. Both assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are completely banned in the city. And up until the 2010 Supreme Court decision that legalized them, handguns were banned too. ... As a result of these burdensome and punitive measures, only 7,640 people currently hold a firearms permit in Chicago... Chicago police seized 7,400 guns used in crimes in 2012 alone."

The truth is that people that want to get guns will still be able to get a hold of them. As one gang member stated in an article in Mint Press News, "The background check don't apply to us... I don't need to go into a shop to buy one." Stricter background checks may prevent some people from getting guns, but not the people that really want to get them. The same gang member said, "Automatic guns are harder to get, but I wouldn't use them. They are harder to hide, I don't know people who would use it, so they (the President) can do whatever, cuz it can't hurt me. ...It (the law) doesn't apply to me."

A man named Dr. Kiehl did a study on the brains of some inmates in high-security prisons. He looked at the density and function of the brain. He found low density in the para-limbic system. The processing of emotions is associated with this area. According to BBC News: "Psychopathy seems to involve a lack of development in these regions -- which may be genetically determined." He hopes to start the diagnosis of potential criminal behavior at a young age. "The hope now is to develop a specific diagnosis for these children - callous and unemotional disorder -- and to develop programmes and treatments specifically geared to their condition." The end of the article states: "Not every psychopath is violent, and not every violent kid is a psychopath. But confronted with a violent kid who lacks remorse, guilt and empathy... we are dealing with a kid with a malfunctioning brain. Normal disciplinary regimes will not work."

Another main issue is that there are 300 million guns already in circulation. One article I read says, "You can outlaw assault rifles for instance... but they won't be turned in. It's not that you can't outlaw them, it's just that practically speaking you can't get rid of them." The Second Amendment doesn't oppose gun control, only allows Americans to own firearms for self protection. People view gun control as something that goes against this right, though. The article stated that the most effective way to control distribution of assault rifles is to improve the reporting of mental health data to subsequently improve background check reports.

I would like to re-state some words spoken by Steve Sanetti, president of the NSSF, at the State of the Industry banquet 2013.

"...For it is us, above all, who do not wish to see our products misused. This industry strongly supports severe penalties for those who misuse their right to own firearms and can't understand why we are blamed when those who use illegally owned guns harm others. They don't go through the many required steps to be able to own and use firearms legally. Violent criminals who violate the law have no right to keep and bear arms, and they belong in jail...Hold your heads high and be thankful that you live in America, which is still the freest nation in the world, and where our home, and hearts, and our precious days afield with our family and friends will always be remembered."

Works Cited:

Bean, Alan. "Psychopaths and Gun violence." Friends of Justice. N.p., 15 Nov. 2011. Web. 21 Apr. 2013.

Braga, AA, GJ Wintemute, GL Pierce, PJ Cook, and G Ridgeway. "Interpreting the Empirical Evidence on Illegal Gun Market Dynamics." Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine. 89.5 (2012): 779-93. Print.

Brandl, Steven, and Meghan Stroshine. "The Relationship between Gun and Gun Buyer Characteristics and Firearm Time-to-Crime." Criminal Justice Policy Review. 22.3 (2011): 285-300. Print.

Cash, Adam. "Practicing Psychology: Pinning Down Criminal Psychopaths." - Psychology For Dummies. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2013.

"Chicago's Rising Murder Rate Is Proof Positive That Gun Control Isn't Working." Business Insider. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2013.

Cook, Philip J, Jens Ludwig, Sudhir Venkatesh, and Anthony A. Braga. "Underground Gun Markets." The Economic Journal. 117.524 (2007). Print.

Coscarelli, Joe. "New York Magazine." Daily Intelligencer. N.p., 15 May 2012. Web. 07 Feb. 2013.
Erickson, Jo. "Gangs On Guns: One Gang Member's Take On Gun Control." Mint Press News. N.p., 13 Feb. 2013. Web. 21 Apr. 2013.

"Firearms and Crime Statistics." Firearms and Crime Statistics. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2013.

HARTFIELD, ELIZABETH. "Controlling Gun Violence: Obstacles to an Effective Policy."ABC News. ABC News Network, 19 Dec. 2012. Web. 21 Apr. 2013.

Marsh, Nicholas. "Two Sides of the Same Coin? the Legal and Illegal Trade in Small Arms." Brown Journal of World Affairs. 9.1 (2002). Print.

"Number of Deaths, Death Rates, and Age-adjusted Death Rates for Injury Deaths, by Mechanism and Intent of Death: United States, 2010." Center for Disease Control. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Feb. 2013..

Sanetti, Steve. "NSSF State of the Industry Address." NSSF State of the Industry Banquet. Venetian, Las Vegas. 15 Jan. 2013. Address.

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