written my freshman year of college.
|Guns In America (1999)
Guns are manufactured by people with the purpose of being used for shooting. Shooting can result in death or injury. Sometimes guns are used in criminal activity. Of an estimated 100 million firearms privately owned in the United States, 67 million are manufactured for the purpose of killing people.
While most guns are not allowed to be purchased by anyone under the age of 18, the handgun is the most popular weapon of choice among young criminals today. The past decade saw an increase of 79% in the number of juvenile murders with the firearm. Nearly three out of every four homicides by 10-17 year olds are committed with guns. This means they must have been able to obtain the gun by illegal means. Young adults, or persons with past records, are most likely to buy their guns on the black market. In some states, a waiting period delays the purchase of the gun, but once the gun leaves the shop, there’s no way to determine if it is resold or fell into the hands of young people. Since 1989, handgun violence has been on the rise.
Most people obtain a gun because they anticipate falling victim to one. Youth are no exception. A study of 835 youth in correctional facilities demonstrated the reasons they had used a gun. The youth indicated that 84% of them had been threatened previously. 80% carried a gun for self-defense, 58% carried one in case the victim was armed, and 49% had it in order to escape the crime scene. Though not all children who carry a gun are criminals, a study based on 70,000 arrested persons indicated that 31% were gang bangers. Youths and guns make for a bad combination.
The people of today show an increase in violent behavior. This trend is also present in juvenile crime. Some examples of gun violence include accidental shootings, robbery, self-defense, road rage, murder, and suicide. In Seattle, a young boy, Greg, age 15, left his house to play in the park with 7 boys. Two of his friends had brought a handgun from home and passed them around the group from hand to hand. One of the boys, age 13, loaded his and shot at Greg. He claims I just wanted to scare him.” Greg died almost immediately.
A pharmacist holds the record of staring down the barrel of a gun. This has been due to the fact that her pharmacy has been robbed 29 times by gun point. The fact that she was robbed at gun point is not as important as the point that the place had been robbed, not once, but 29 times.
Recently women have been buying guns. They have been advertised as dishwater safe. Twice as many women are shot by their husbands or lovers than by strangers. Often this is the very gun she bought to protect herself. The Department of justice indicated 20% of persons using a firearm to defend themselves suffered an injury.
The newest and just as deadly example of increased violence is road rage. On April 17, 1993, Cynthia Coston of Seattle was driving home when her path was blocked by a black Mustang. After honking her horn, she witnessed one of her daughters, who was 9 years old, slumped down in her seat. She was the second child to be shot in Seattle that year because someone honked a car horn.
A juvenile recruited to enforce drug deals was given his first gun at age 13. Three years later, he admits to shooting at dozens of people.
Firearm related suicide is greatest among adolescence and young adults. This often is due to the fact that teenagers are more prone to impulsive acts.
A small amount of society is criminal and a small amount of violent crimes involve firearms. One out of every eight incidents is indicated according to victimization studies. It is understandable that the need for a gun seems to be overestimated due to media exposure. In a study of 388 homicides in the home, 77% of the victims knew their murderer. Half of these died from a gunshot wound. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, “A gun kept in the home is far more likely to be involved in the death of a (family) member...than it is to be used to kill in self defense. In fact, about 62,200 fell victim to firearms when defending themselves."
Even though adults may be found liable if a child finds a gun improperly stored, 53% of long guns and 57% of handguns are usually kept unlocked. About half of all rifles and guns are kept loaded. Leaving a gun unlocked and loaded opens up the possibility of the gun’s finding its way into the hands of a desperate teen, or curious child.
Shall-issue laws are growing in popularity in the United States. Shall-issue laws give citizens the right to carry concealed weapons. They also make it easier to obtain permits. With the growing trend towards violence, shall issue laws may present more problems than solutions. According to the Bureau of Justice statistics, 70% of firearms purchases were blocked by the Brady Act. The reason for the block was due to the person having prior convictions or indictments. Under shall-issue laws, these people would have slipped through the cracks.
In a telephone sample survey of 1,200 adults nationally, 75% supported government design safety regulations while 85% support child-proofing handguns. Additionally, 68% of the survey support personalizing handguns. What this means is a chip is included on the gun that allows only the person who owns the gun the ability to use it. This may help prevent people form selling to minors or buying a gun from them. Many support background checks that prohibit three crimes. These crimes are possession of equipment for drug use, driving under intoxication, and carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. The majority of people seemed to be interested in gun control in order to assure this country’s safety.
As gun access grows, it seems gun injury will grow. If more people in general can purchase guns, the violent trend could lead to increased crime and death. The newest recruits to the violence scene are the youth of our country. If as a country we loosen our grip on firearm laws, things have a way of becoming worse. I only hope we can prevent this!
List of works cited
“At issue: Does the second amendment guarantee an individual right to keep and Bear arms” CQ Researcher – December 19, 1997
“At issue: Will Gun control Laws help reduce crime in America” CQ Researcher – June 10, 1994
Firearm Violence: an Annotated Bibliography, Baltimore, MD: John's Hopkins University, 1997
Gun Control: Opposing Viewpoints, San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, Inc. 1997
“gun control standoff” CQ Researcher, December 19, 1997
“the issues” CQ Researcher – February 25, 1994