Who has not listened to a gun control debate? Almost everyone living in this country should have witnessed such debates. Some people might not have listened to a formal debate. But an informal gun control debate is being carried on by many groups and individuals. It is very unlikely that you have not listened to one. Recall the occasions when you were traveling or waiting somewhere when you have heard your neighbors discussing gun control pros and cons. These conversations are also gun control debates in the wider sense of the term. After all, a debate does not have to be a formal one.
The question where the gun control debate is heading to arises from the fact that there have been innumerable rounds of this debate but no conclusion seems to have been reached. Gun control facts show what has been happening around us. So, what more is needed to arrive at a decision on gun control? Gun crime statistics show that guns are used in about 60 percent of the homicide crimes. But how do we react to these kinds of gun death statistics? If we are going to accept these facts passively, then gun control debates will end up only as an academic exercise. Gun crime statistics should make us sit up and evaluate the gun control pros and cons. Does the fact that guns are increasingly being used for committing murders not contradict the argument of the pro gun lobbies that guns are for protection?
Another shocking data is that the number of suicides is higher in regions that have a larger number of gun owning people. So, gun ownership, far from protecting people from crime, only seems to be helping people commit suicides in an emotional moment by making guns readily available to them! On the other hand, it has been well established that gun control laws help prevent murders as well as suicides. This has been the experience of those countries that have implemented strict gun control laws. But how do the anti gun control groups respond to these arguments? They just do not participate in the gun control debate. They have made it clear that they will not be moved by gun crime statistics. The NRA (National Rifles Association) has made no secret of its stand of not compromising on its opposition to gun control. The NRA seems to be acting like a lobby, not like a club.
It seems that there has been an overdose of gun crime statistics. We have been exposed to this kind of statistics in gun control debates that have been going on for a long time with both the sides sticking to their guns (No pun intended!) So, it appears that we have to look beyond gun crime statistics and look at gun control facts from a slightly different perspective. One reason for this approach is that the pro gun lobby does not seem to be moved by gun death statistics and keeps on advocating its opposition to any form of gun control. Another reason is that gun crime statistics have been heard so often that there is no need to repeat them.
Instead of quoting figures of the number of gun deaths, we can discuss the gun control pros and cons by considering the issues involved and the arguments advanced by either side. We do not have to quote gun crime statistics to bring out the fact that countries that have fewer guns have been witnessing fewer murders. Anyone reading this statement can understand the import of this finding. If someone is interested in looking at the actual figures, they can always look up gun crime statistics that have been published in newspapers, gun control articles, official reports etc.
The information we get from countries that have gone ahead with making gun control laws have more teeth have reported positive results. The gun crime statistics from these countries reveal that after these laws have come into force, there has been a steep drop not only in the number of murders but also in the number of suicides.
So, how do the anti gun control groups react to these reports? Unfortunately, they have not been impressed by these facts. Their attitude to gun crime statistics has always been lukewarm. Since the facts are not on their side, they employ other means. The NRA (National rifles Association), for example, has made no secret of its decision to not accept any compromise on the issue of gun control. It has been threatening legislators that it will work for their defeat in the primaries, if they do not toe the line of the NRA. The threat seems to be working, with some legislators making attempts to change the rules in such a way that organizations like the CDC will not be able to study gun violence.
One remarkable thing about the gun control debate is that though this debate has been carried on for the past few decades ever since gun control became a serious issue after President Kennedy was gunned down by an assassin, it has been able to sustain the interest of the people. We have listened to many gun control pros and cons but somehow, people engaging in the gun control debate have been successful in keeping the debate lively and engrossing. The debate itself has been kept alive because of our failure to bring in a strong gun control regime in spite of going over a volley of gun control facts again and again.
One reason for the gun control debate remaining lively is the emergence of new gun crime facts. With the gun crime continuing to take its toll everyday at several places, gun death statistics are getting updated. The updated statistics can be effectively used in a gun control debate to make the debate contemporary and interesting. Here are some gun control facts used in the debates.
The United States has a disproportionately large number of guns relative to its population. This can be seen from two sets of data. The US has 89 guns for a population of 100. It is easy to see that this works out to almost one gun for every person living in this country. Another data reveals that the US has about 50 percent of the number of privately owned guns in the country though its share of the population of the world is only 5 percent. Together, these two data show that there is a high concentration of guns in the US.
In addition to mentioning these points in the gun control debate, the protagonists of gun control should also bring to light the fact that the children and women living in houses where guns are present are under a greater risk of becoming victims of gun crime. If we contrast this with the fact that countries that have introduced strong gun control laws have reported a drop in the number of both murders and suicides, we can understand the connection between unrestrained gun ownership and the incidence of crime. An argument often heard in a gun control debate about the 2nd amendment giving people the right to own guns ignores the fact that 99 percent of this law was written by people with no legal background.
Here is a small list of gun control pros and cons. I have listed only a few of the gun control facts among the large number of gun control pros and cons since most of these have been widely discussed in gun control debates.
Let me start with arguments in support of gun control:
1) Gun control facts reveal that though the population of the United States is only 5 percent of the population of the world, the number of privately owned guns in the US is 50 percent of the privately owned guns in the world. This mismatch between the share of the population of the world and that of the number of guns available in the world is a strong factor in favor of gun control. This appears to be a strong point.
2) Gun control pros and cons should also include experiences of countries that implemented stricter gun control. These countries have been able to get positive results. Australia, for example, has found that after it had tightened the gun control laws, the gun violence was brought down by about 60 percent. This part of the gun death statistics is a strong factor in favor of stricter gun control laws for the US. This also counters the argument made by the anti gun control groups that allowing people to own guns will help in reduction of crime.
Here are the arguments against gun control that form a part of gun control pros and cons.
1) In a democracy, there cannot be any control. Hence there should be no gun control laws. This argument does not appear to be reasonable for two reasons. One, having controls is not against democracy. Control is a part of governance. Two, gun control has the aim of curbing violence, not gun ownership. Since violence can lead to anarchy, preventing anarchy is essential to help the cause of democracy.
2) The right to own and bear guns is a sovereign right given by the second amendment and this right cannot be taken away by other laws. This argument can be countered on the fact that since nearly 99 percent of the second amendment was created on the basis of inputs given by people with no legal background, amending the right given by this amendment may not be wrong.
The policy of the NRA not to accept any compromise cannot be included in gun control pros and cons.
The gun control debate is an ongoing exercise. It will be difficult to say when it started but the debate has intensified over the years. Though the arguments for or against gun control may be on traditional lines, new information added by gun crime statistics provides the needed fuel to ensure that gun control remains a burning issue. If you want to join the gun control debate, you should keep yourself updated on gun crime statistics so that you can use them effectively. I do not know which side you will take on the gun control debate but I will be covering a few points to be used in support of gun control.
Since gun ownership remains a point of contention, you need to use gun crime statistics having a bearing on gun ownership, in the gun control debate. A census of guns owned by people in the United State presents an interesting picture. If we calculate the number of guns relative to the population, the figure works out to be 89 guns for 100 people. You can dramatize this fact in the gun control debate by pointing out that this means that on an average, there is almost one gun for every American, including children!
Apart from discussing gun control facts, you should also deal with the stand of the people opposing gun control and expose some of their lobbying activities which will show that they are interested not in a healthy gun control debate but only in getting what they want using whatever means they can. The approach of the NRA (National Rifles Association), the leader of the anti gun control group, to the issue is not in keeping with the spirit of the gun control debate. The NRA has made it clear that it will not compromise on its stand. Where is the scope for a debate when one adopts such a stand? Another disturbing development is the activity of some legislators whose loyalty to the NRA is well known to all. These legislators seek to sabotage the process of collection of gun death statistics by creating strange rules that seem to be specifically aimed at preventing the CDC from even studying gun violence. This kind of activities of the NRA and its supporters makes one wonder whether the NRA is a gun club as its name suggests or it is a highly paid lobby.