Gun Control Laws: Reasons for Toughening


The Virginia Tech Massacre, the Columbine High School Massacre and the most recent Santa Barbara Massacre changed the way people look at college campuses. Public schools and universities are no longer seen as safe haven for young people, so that they can study and learn about science, arts, language, and social relationships. In the past, children and young adults need not worry about violence while they were in campus, and their minds were filled with thoughts of exams, projects, and things that they wanted to do after class.

But in the present time parents are not only worried about their children’s safety, they are also dragged into a ridiculous debate that talked about the merits of arming teachers. Are we transforming public schools and universities into a miniaturized version of the Wild Wild West? The Federal Government must implement tougher gun control laws in order to stop the proliferation of loose firearms and significantly reduce the the probability that another mass shooting incident will occur in the future.

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Background

The clamor for gun control law did not begin in earnest until the Columbine High School massacre. Before the Columbine shooting, gun related violence was seen as the result of criminal acts or crimes of passion. In other words, the crimes were committed due to certain circumstances but not as a direct result of loose firearms. Easy access to guns were not the main issue.

The main issue was criminal behavior. If policymakers and law enforcement agencies focus their energies in mitigating crime, then, there is no need for stricter gun control laws. The old adage that says guns do not kill but blames the death on the person holding the gun is the usual defense utilized by men and women who supported the idea that every American citizen must have the right to bear arms. They believe that every citizen must have the right to choose the type of guns they want to purchase. They also insist on the right of every American citizens to sell the same.

Status quo was maintained throughout the most part of the 20th century until Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold mercilessly massacred fellow students. Fifteen people were dead and twenty-three others were injured in one of the deadliest rampages in U.S. history.

Harris and Klebold acquired the Hi-Point 9mm Carbine from private sellers that were not required to conduct background checks or compelled to keep records of the transaction (Gimpel, 2012). They purchased the TEC-DC9 from a pizza shop employer named Mark Manes who was well aware of the fact that he sold the semi-automatic handgun to a minor (Gimpel, 2012).

If one will revisit the Virginia Tech massacre, the shooter named Seung-Hui Cho purchased a Walther P22 handgun from an online seller and he bought another handgun, a Glock 19 9mm from a gun shop. The gun store owner said that according to Virginia law, Cho was allowed to buy the said weapon (Siegel, 2010).

But Cho was mentally imbalanced, his mental problems were well documented (CNN.com, 2007). The same thing can be said about another mentally imbalanced shooter named Elliot Rodger who was able to purchase Glock and Sig Sauer handguns (Barrett, 2014).

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Proposed Change

Stricter gun control laws must be implemented in the United States of America. There are three legal loopholes that must be addressed by the Federal Government. First, those who have a history of mental illness are prohibited from buying any type of gun.

Second, the Federal Government must run after unlicensed gun sellers. Responsible gun owners must purchase firearms from a legitimate gun store. If guns are sold in gun shows, each booth or reseller must be connected to a bona fide gun store.

Third, all firearms must be registered in the same way that people register their newly purchased vehicles. At the same time responsible gun owners must follow strict protocols with regards to the proper storage of firearms (McDowell, 2007). Owners must invest in a gun safe or gun vault. Gun owners must be knowledgeable about specific standards, rules and regulations on how to keep guns in a safe place. If the gun was used in a crime and the owner did not report it as stolen, he or she is partially responsible for the harm caused by the said firearm.

Counter-Argument

Many people will oppose a stricter gun control law. With regards to the first issue mentioned earlier, others will contend that creating a database to track down mentally imbalanced patients will violate their right to privacy. They are probably thinking of a scenario wherein a gun store owner will void the sale of a firearm because the name of the customer is flagged by the system and it says that he or she is mentally imbalanced.

It is easy to understand the source of contention with regards to mentally ill patients and their right to own a firearm. If their request is rejected, it will humiliate them to know that the sale was voided because of their mental condition.

But more importantly, there is great concern with regards to how the information will be used once their names are in the system. Although this is a valid argument, the system can be modified so that the proprietor will never know the exact reason why the database query voided the sale.

In the present time those with criminal records are prohibited to own guns. So the gun store owner can never figure out if the customer had a criminal record or mental health problems. Thus, when the name of the mentally ill person is red-flagged by the system, the authorized seller is alerted but he or she will never have access to sensitive information pertaining to that customer.

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With regards to the second and third issue outlined earlier, critics will say that stricter gun control laws will significantly inhibit people’s right to bear arms. They will refer to the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that says it is the right of every American citizen to bear arms.

The oversimplified interpretation of the Second Amendment is no longer applicable in light of Supreme Court rulings that pointed out the real intent of the Founding Fathers when they wrote the U.S. Constitution. In United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174, the Supreme Court clarified that the Second Amendment guaranteed the State’s right to maintain and train a militia and it should never be interpreted as a personal right to bear arms (Siegel, 2010).

It is high time for American citizens to seriously consider the impact of loose firearms and the ability of the general population to buy any type of weapon from those who are more than willing to make a lot of money without considering where the guns will end up later on. Therefore, in light of recent school shootings perpetrated by individuals who are not supposed to carry guns, tougher gun control laws is the logical next step to significantly reduce access to firearms, especially minors and mentally imbalanced people.

Conclusion

Tougher gun control laws must go beyond the idea of prohibiting the type of guns that people are allowed to buy. The Federal Government must go beyond the idea of establishing a database to track down criminals and ex-convicts so that they are prohitibed from purchasing guns.

Tougher gun control laws must make it virtually impossible for mentally imbalanced people to buy any type of gun. The Federal Government must go after unlicensed resellers and there must be no exception to that rule. If a gun owner sells his gun, he must inform the government about the sale. The one who purchased the weapon must be responsible to register the gun in his or her name.

Finally, the Federal Government must go after gun owners who are not responsible enough to store their guns in a prescribed manner. If stricter gun control laws are implemented it will be very difficult for mentally imbalanced people to buy handguns or shotguns.

Minors will also find it impossible to acquire firearms because the dearth of unlicensed sellers means that they have to go to a licensed gun store to purchase one. If this system were in place and if tougher gun control laws were in existence 15 years ago, the Columbine shooting could have been prevented. Therefore, tougher gun control laws will significantly limit the number of loose firearms and reduce the probability of another mass shooting to recur in the future.

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References

Barrett, P. (2014). Santa Barbara Massacre. Web.

CNN.com. (2007). Massacre at Virginia Tech. Web.

Gimpel, D. (2012). Columbine Shootings. MN: ABDO Publishing. Web.

McDowell, E. (2007). America’s Great Gun Game: Gun Ownership vs Americans’ Safety. NE: iUniverse Publishing. Web.

Siegel, L. (2010). Introduction to Criminal Justice. CA: Wadsworth. Web.

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