Toulmin Argument: Gun Control
Gun control has been an issues that has always raised various kinds of feelings and thoughts among different people in the United States. It has actually been an issue that has played a key impact in political campaigns. The issue on gun control has always been quite a complex one because every single group that is for or against the control tend to have valid reasons on why they have certain stands. The first incident in the United States that may have actually sparked the discussion of gun control was the assassination of John F Kennedy. Prior to 1968, adults in America had so much access to guns from stores as well as the mail catalogues and this raised concern that gun regulation were needed. The 1968 Gun Control Act was the first major act which regulated interstate transfer of firearms except for licensed dealers. Since then, there have been laws and acts that have been introduced and while some gunner support others have been shunned.
In 1994, a major law was passed and this was seen as a win on gun control. The Public Safety and Recreational Firearm Use Act passed a ban on use of military style weapons as well as magazines that accommodated more than 10 rounds. The Democrats pushed for this reforms and although they got the backing from the Republicans it was on the basis that the act would expire after 10 years. After 2004, the ban expired and civilians were back to accessing military style weapon. America has recorded the highest number of gun related violence in the world and it is sad that young adults including school going children have been victims of these violence. There are various states that have taken the matter upon their hands and created gun control laws including banning of the assault weapons while certain states are reluctant to do this. This paper explores various statistic related with gun-related violence and the various measures that have been taken in trying to deal with the issue. With the increase in the number of gun related violence and mass shooting then legislation and discussion on gun control need to happen
According to a survey conducted in 2018 by Pew Research Center, approximately 45% of Americans own guns. This is almost half of the population a clear indication gun possession in America is something valuable. Most Americans who own guns have always used the constitution to back gun ownership as the Second Amendment of the constitution states that everyone has a right to bear arms. However, with the number of deaths that have occurred in the United States the discussion on gun control needs to happen. In 2017, gun related deaths from homicide cases was at 73%. Since 1982, there has been more than 110 mass shootings. Although mass shooting accounts for just a tiny proposition of gun related deaths, it is these shootings that have caused a lot of discussion on gun ownership and need first strict laws (Jehan, pg. 11). This may be because children in school have been affected by mass shootings as random strangers have had access to school and then opened fire to school going children like the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.
Statistics on states that have strict gun laws have proved he importance of gun legislation in helping in gun control thus reducing mass shooting and any gun related deaths or maiming. The top eight most states that have restrictive laws include Hawaii, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts and California. These states have greatly reduced the number of gun related incidents that have taken place. States with more permissive rates have been highly ranked on the number of shootings that have occurred and they include Vermont, Louisiana, South Carolina, Texas, Ohio and Arizona. Texas recently experienced a terror attack and no changes in the laws were made. What came as a shock to many actually was the fact that Texas allowed people to carry guns to church after the Senate Bill 535 was approved (Samantha, pg. 109). Although they indicate it’s only for licensed gun owners, this seems to be so much permissibility when it comes to gun laws and restriction to a country that has been wrecked by constant shootings and attacks. The states that have permissible gun laws are making it hard for states that have regulated gun control to have an easy time. An example is the killing of the three people that occurred in Gilroy, California. The gun man travelled from Gilroy all the way to Nevada to buy military-style rifle as he could not do so in his home state. This shows that if Nevada had strict gun laws then this man may not have acquired the said weapon and thus not in a position to carry out the attack.
There have been factors that may have contributed to the high number of gun ownership. Guns have often been readily available in the U.S. Although people claim that background checks can be done to determine mental illnesses or people with prior convictions do not get guns, these group of individuals have been able to access guns. These loops have largely contributed to the increased number of gun related deaths in the United States. There have been children who have also been able to fake their ID’s changing their age and thus being able to acquire guns while the set age of acquiring certain weapons has been set to be at 18 and 21. Another example of a loophole is failure by the law enforcement agency to include all individuals with prior conviction. Often military personnel are not usually included in the database for example the case of Devin Kelley who worked in the U.S force had acres to a gun and shot people in a church in Texas. The Air Force had failed to report Kelley and other members who had been charged with serious offences (Morall, pg. 56-123).
Legislation such as running mental health checks background and banning of semi-automatic and automatic rifles are recommendations that have been stated and most presidential candidates are using these as their campaign strategy on gun control. Adam Lanza who was the perpetrator of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting was a disturbed child who had been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and Obsessive-compulsive disorder, yet he walked into a gun shop and was sold for a gun. If a proper background had been done, he would not be in possession of a gun. Most gun shootings have always been carried out using these assault weapons which in a couple of minutes may take down so many people. Banning of these weapons will be a great way of curbing violence and ensuring that the general public do not have access to military grade weapons. States that have strict gun control laws have seen a decrease in gun related violence (Connors, pg. 49). There also needs to be better policies that will ensure that people who have histories of mental illnesses or people who have been convicted including those who have served in the military do not get access to the guns. The law enforcement agencies need to be answerable incase a person who should have been reported to the data base is not reported and hence gets access to a gun. The only way these loopholes can be sealed is through legislation that is why it is important for the government to be in support of gun control measures that are being proposed.
Although gun control measures are likely to help reduce number of gun related deaths, there is a high likelihood that purchase of guns from the black market will increase. When the Obama administration came up with the discussion that they would consider gun control measures, there was an influx on the number of gun sales and gun dealers experienced stock outs (Jones, pg. 167-174). The citizens were trying to send a clear message that they would not support any un control measures. This goes to show that most gun consumers love gun ownership and if measures or restrictions are introduced then they are likely to turn to the black market. This however can be dealt with by making sure the law enforcement officers become vigilant and apprehend all those who will be found selling or dealing with weapons illegally. Citizens who will also be found with weapons acquired illegally such as the black market will also be charged with illegal possession of firearm. Although an influx of gun sales market may be experienced with gun control measures, the right legislation will curb this.
It is also of great concern that the country lacks law on assault or rather military-style weapon. In 1994, there was a Federal Assault Weapon Ban that was passed by the congress restricting the sale of military style and high capacity magazine. Military style weapons ae weapons that can kill a high number of victims in just a span of seconds. Such weapons should have no place or rather should not be carried by civilians but belong to the war zones and in military camps. The ban was passed but had an expiration after 10 years unless renewed by congress thus the ban ended in 2004 and was never renewed. Most were hopeful that the conversation would come up again after the Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting. This conversation did come up but no extreme measures were taken only suggestion of how strict gun laws should be there (Luca, pg. 96). It is however important to point out that there are states that have restriction on military-style weapons but no such laws exist at the federal level.
Guns may serve as an important weapon in countering the attacker thus subduing them before they cause more deaths. Often many have argued that guns are useful when it comes to protection. President Trump himself has stated several times after gun shooting that if someone else had a gun then they would help in subduing a shooter. This is true, states that allow people to walk with guns and less gun control measures have less crime rate. This is because a perpetrator will often be afraid of attacking someone with the fear that they may be in possession of a gun for self-defense (Lott, pg. 123). Although this is true, I believe that the shooting does not have to happen in the first place. No one should leave in fear of being shot thus feeling the need to carry the gun for self-defense. It is important to ensure that the guns are not available in the first place. When there are no guns and people who have no business having guns are denied the access then there will be no need to have guns for self-protection thus this argument will be invalid.
Gun control is likely to increase sale of guns in the black market. Gun consumers have repeatedly portrayed their love for guns over and over again and made it clear they would not let anyone take that away from them. This was evident when guns were bought that gun shops experienced stock outs. If guns are banned or control, then there is the likelihood that people may decide to use the black market as the source of their guns. Guns found in the black market are often quite cheap as one may even acquire a handgun for less than $100. Most people who are pro-gun ownership have pointed out that gun control laws and banning of weapons may result in people seeking other ways that they could acquire guns and this includes using the black market (Manier). I however think this argument is fictional. Dangerous people over the years have been able to access guns and mostly it is because of the weak laws that are in place. Before we make the judgement on acquisition of guns from the lack market, how about first we pass the laws then get the statistics if this is true. Acquiring of guns from the black market can be regulated through legislation and vigilance from law enforcers who would apprehend individuals found buying or possessing a gun acquired from the black market.
Gun control is an important step in trying to ensure gun related violence in the United States decrease. There has been an increase in number of shootings in the U.S and often most of the perpetrators are people who should not have been allowed to have guns in the first place. The large availability of guns including assault weapons has made it easier for deranged individuals to carry out attacks. It is important that we have the conversation on ways that we can regulate and reduce the number of guns that are available in the market. This may be a step by step transition, for example, legislators may first begin by trying to ban the assault rifles as well as the high capacity magazines. Such laws will ensure that weapons that are more likely to cause havoc in just a couple of minutes are not easily available to the market for purchase by the attackers. States too need to be vigilant on the laws they create on gun control. States that have strong gun control laws have experienced a decline in number of gun related violence and thus other states should also follow suit. Loss of life due to laws that can be altered is unacceptable.
Jehan, Faisal, et al. “The burden of firearm violence in the United States: stricter laws result in safer states.” Journal of injury and violence research 10.1 (2018): 11.
Jones, Michael A., and George W. Stone. “The US gun-control paradox: Gun buyer response to congressional gun-control initiatives.” Journal of Business & Economics Research (JBER) 13.4 (2015): 167-174.
Lott, John R. More guns, less crime: Understanding crime and gun control laws. University of Chicago Press, 2013.
Luca, Michael, Deepak Malhotra, and Christopher Palanquin. The impact of mass shootings on gun policy. No. w26187. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2019.
Manier, Lauren. “Does Gun Control Really Work?” National Center for Health Research, 12 Apr. 2018, http://www.center4research.org/does-gun-control-really-work/.
Morrall, Andrew. “The science of gun policy: a critical synthesis of research evidence on the effects of gun policies in the United States.” Rand health quarterly 8.1 (2018).
Santhanam, Laura. “Most Americans Support These 4 Types of Gun Legislation, Poll Says.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 10 Sept. 2019, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/most-americans-support-stricter-gun-laws-new-poll-says.
Spitzer, Robert J. Politics of gun control. Routledge, 2015.