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The 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
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 weapons.
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 crime.
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


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