Failure of Gun Control Laws


Americans are faced with an ever-growing problem of violence. 
Our streets have become a battleground where the elderly are
beaten for their social security checks, where terrified women are 
viciously attacked and raped, where teen-age gangsters
shoot it out for a patch of turf to sell their illegal drugs, and 
where innocent children are caught daily in the crossfire of drive-by
shootings. We cannot ignore the damage that these criminals are doing 
to our society, and we must take actions to stop these
horrors. However, the effort by some misguided individuals to 
eliminate the legal ownership of firearms does not address the
real problem at hand, and simply disarms the innocent law-abiding 
citizens who are most in need of a form of self-defense.

 To fully understand the reasons behind the gun control 
efforts, we must look at the history of our country, and the role 
firearms have played in it. The second amendment to the Constitution 
of the United States makes firearm ownership legal in this country.
There were good reasons for this freedom, reasons which persist today. 
Firearms in the new world were used initially for hunting, and 
occasionally for self-defense. However, when the colonists felt that 
the burden of British oppression was too much for them to bear, they 
picked up their personal firearms and went to war. Standing against 
the British armies, these rebels found themselves opposed by the 
greatest military force in the world at that time. The 18th century 
witnessed the height of the British Empire, but the rough band of 
colonial freedom fighters discovered the power of the Minuteman, the 
average American gun owner. These Minutemen, so named because they 
would pick up their personal guns and jump to the defense of their 
country on a minute's notice, served a major part in winning the 
American Revolution. The founding fathers of this country understood
that an armed populace was instrumental in fighting off oppression, 
and they made the right to keep and bear arms a constitutionally 
guaranteed right.

 Over the years, some of the reasons for owning firearms have 
changed. As our country grew into a strong nation, we expanded
westward, exploring the wilderness, and building new towns on the 
frontier. Typically, these new towns were far away from the centers of 
civilization, and the only law they had was dispensed by townsfolk 
through the barrel of a gun. Crime existed, but could be minimized 
when the townspeople fought back against the criminals. Eventually, 
these organized townspeople developed police forces as their towns 
grew in size. Fewer people carried their firearms on the street, but 
the firearms were always there, ready to be used in self-defense.

 It was after the Civil War that the first gun-control 
advocates came into existence. These were southern leaders who were
afraid that the newly freed black slaves would assert their newfound 
political rights, and these leaders wanted to make it easier to 
oppress the free blacks. This oppression was accomplished by passing 
laws making it illegal in many places for black people to own 
firearms. With that effort, they assured themselves that the black 
population would be subject to their control, and would not have the 
ability to fight back. At the same time, the people who were most 
intent on denying black people their basic rights walked around with 
their firearms, making it impossible to resist their efforts. An 
unarmed man stands little chance against an armed one, and these armed 
men saw their plans work completely. It was a full century before the 
civil rights activists of the 1960s were able to restore the 
constitutional freedoms that blacks in this country were granted in 
the 1860s.
 Today's gun control activists are a slightly different breed. 
They claim that gun violence in this country has gotten to a point
where something must be done to stop it. They would like to see 
criminals disarmed, and they want the random violence to stop. I agree 
with their sentiments. However, they are going about it in the wrong 
way. While claiming that they want to take guns out of the hands of 
criminals, they work to pass legislation that would take the guns out 
of the hands of law-abiding citizens instead. For this reason the 
efforts at gun control do not address the real problem of crime.

 The simple definition of a criminal is someone who does not 
obey the law. The simple definition of a law-abiding citizen is
someone who does obey the law. Therefore, if we pass laws restricting 
ownership of firearms, which category of people does it affect? The 
simple answer is that gun control laws affect law-abiding citizens 
only. By their very nature, the criminals will continue to violate 
these new laws, they will continue to carry their firearms, and they 
will find their efforts at crime much easier when they know that their 
victims will be unarmed. The situation is similar to that of the 
disarmed blacks a century ago. Innocent people are turned into victims 
when new laws make it impossible for them to fight back. An unarmed 
man stands little chance against an armed one.

 An interesting recent development has been the backlash 
against the gun-control advocates. In many states, including Florida
and Texas, citizens have stated that they want to preserve their right 
to carry firearms for self-defense. Since the late 1980s, Florida has 
been issuing concealed weapons permits to law-abiding citizens, and 
these citizens have been carrying their firearms to defend themselves 
from rampant crime. The result is that the incidence of violent crime 
has actually dropped in contrast to the national average. Previously, 
Florida had been leading the nation in this category, and the citizens 
of that state have welcomed the change. Gun control advocates tried to 
claim that there would be bloodshed in the streets when these citizens
were given the right to carry. They tried to claim that the cities of 
Florida would become like Dodge City with shootouts on every street 
corner. These gun control advocates were wrong. Over 200,000 concealed 
carry permits have been issued so far, with only 36 of these permits 
revoked for improper use of a firearm. This statistic is easy to 
understand. It is the law-abiding citizens who are going through the 
process of getting concealed carry permits so that they may legally 
carry a firearm. The people who go through this legal process do not 
want to break the law, and they do not intend to break the law. The 
people who do intend to break the law will carry their guns whether or 
not the law allows them to do so.

 Criminals will always find ways to get guns. In this country 
we have criminalized the use, possession, sale, and transportation of
many kinds of narcotics, but it's still easy for someone to take a 
ride and purchase the drugs of their choice at street corner vendors. 
Firearms and ammunition would be just as easy for these black-market 
entrepreneurs to deliver to their customers. Today, criminals often 
carry illegal weapons, including sawed-off shotguns, machine guns, and 
homemade zip-guns, clearly showing their disregard for the current 
laws which make these items illegal. And when they are caught, the 
courts regularly dismiss these lesser weapons charges when prosecuting 
for the more serious charges that are being committed with the 

 The gun control advocates have argued their case by demonizing 
the gun itself, rather than addressing the people who commit violent 
crimes. This is the main fallacy in their argument. They slyly attempt 
to claim that possession of a gun turns average citizens into 
bloodthirsty lunatics. This theory falls apart under close scrutiny. 
If legal possession of a firearm caused this sort of attitude, then 
why are crime rates highest in areas such as Washington, D.C. and New 
York City which have strict gun control laws? And why are crime rates 
dropping in states such as Florida where private ownership of firearms 
is encouraged? Simply stated, legal ownership of a gun does not cause 

 The most recent efforts of the gun control lobby has been to 
claim that certain types of guns and ammunition are inherently evil.
They assign emotional catch phrases such as "assault weapons" and "cop 
killer bullets" to broad categories of firearms and ammunition in the 
hopes that people will believe that some guns have an evil nature. 
Most people who are unfamiliar with firearms do not fully understand 
what these phrases mean, and they accept the terms being used without 
question. What people do not often understand is that the term 
"assault weapon" has been defined to include all semi- automatic 
rifles, and "cop killer" has been defined to include any bullet that 
can penetrate type two body armor. It comes as a surprise to most 
people that a large number of simple hunting rifles can do both. Does 
ownership of one of these weapons cause people to become mass 
murderers? It does not, and we must not fall into the trap of blaming 
the sword for the hand that wields it.

 So I've shown that the act of making it illegal to own 
firearms does little to prevent criminals from getting guns. These 
laws only restrict people who respect the law itself, the people who 
would only use firearms for legal purposes anyway. And when we give 
people the right to defend themselves, we find that criminals start 
looking for other victims out of fear that they will become the 
victims themselves. We must work to reduce crime in America, but we 
should look at the problem realistically, and develop plans that would 
be effective. It is obvious that gun control laws are neither 
realistic, nor effective in reducing crime. Therefore, we must direct 
our efforts toward controlling crime, not controlling legal ownership 
of firearms.


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