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Reducing Gun Violence

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Social Issues

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There are presently in excess of two hundred million guns in the United States, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' (Gottfried 13). Each year this number grows by four to five million. There are sixty to sixty-five million legal owners of one or more guns, and half of these legal owners have their guns kept at home (Gottfried 13). Most people keep guns for protection. Others keep guns for hunting, target shooting, collecting, and similar pursuits.
In recant years nearly 35,000 people have been killed annually by guns in the United States (Gottfried 13). These deaths have included 15,000 murders, 18,000 suicides, and 1,500 accidents.
Young people, children, and young adults are members of families that own guns. Young people are victims of guns. Obviously, the question of just what restrictions, if any, should be placed on these firearms is as much a matter of concern to them as to their elders. Still, it is to their elders, the leaders among them at least, that they must look for guidance if not perhaps for answers.
Gun violence claims over 40,000 American lives a year. Among all consumer products, only motor vehicles outpace guns as a cause of fatal injury, and guns will pass them by 2003 (Violence Policy Center).
Their are many different methods in , such as federal gun control laws, increasing penalties for gun-related crimes, banning handguns, on the television, and different types of gun safety practices.
Today there are 20,000 different types of gun control laws in existence, (Bender 197) ranging from those enacted by municipalities and states, to those enacted by the federal government. Some individuals opposed to gun control point to this fact, and assert that gun control is a failure. Yes, the truth is that, for the most part, these laws are ineffective. The only way that these laws will work is if they are upheld and enforced by the police and the government. We need to start some where and not be so relaxed on the controversy over gun control. If firearms are used to murder over 12,000 people annually (Bender 197) then that is a problem, and problems like this should not be ignored but fixed.
It is clear to most individuals that a problem exists. Recognizing the problem is the first step towards a solution. Finding the solution is not easy, nor is it achieved quickly, but this should not hinder gun control.
There are several realistic gun control proposals, but while constructing these proposals, two goals must remain constant. First and most importantly, it is necessary to decrease as much as possible the victimization of individuals through the misuse of firearms. Second, it is important to structure a legislation in ways that accomplish the intended purpose while not being overly intrusive upon the individual. In essence, a utilitarian approach must be taken towards gun control. The benefits to society must be maximized, while the possible intrusions to individuals must be minimized.
With nearly 210,000,000 firearms already present in the United sates (Kruschke 21) it is foolish to believe that a licensing program by itself will keep firearms out of the hands of the people that should not have them. Another step toward keeping firearms from untrustworthy people is to require that all firearms be registered. 'Federal law already requires that each manufacture, importer, and maker shall register each firearm that he manufacturers, imports, or makes' (Bender 200). However, because of the proposed licensing requirements and the uncertantity of who currently owns what firearm, all firearms in the United States must be registered by their current owners.
Gun registration works much like car registration. When a person buys a car, the buyer must provide the state with his or her name, address, the type of car being purchased, and it's identification number. This information is kept on record with the state and local authorites.
'The goal of registration is twofold. It aims to hold gun owners accountable for their weapons, and it provides the police with a starting point for investigations when guns are used to commit crimes (Bernards 28). Each licensed firearm owner would pay for the costs involved in registering his or her own firearms.
Realistically, not every individual now owning a firearm will comply with this firearm control. Some criminals will still have guns; this cannot be denied. However, with every gun removed from the hands of unqualified possessors, it is expected that the misuse of firearms will decrease.
Also their is a mandatory investigation of all firearm transferees. This is a system whereby transferees are automatically investigated for fitness as a gun owner prior to any actual transfer of the weapon is needed is to keep track of firearm ownership. Because the only lawful transferee of a firearm is one who possesses a valid firearm license, the investigation is required not to be extensive. The person would already have been investigated prior to obtaining his or her firearm license. The transferee's history, dating from the time the license was received or from the time a firearm was last transferred to the transferee, is all that must be investigated.
Last their is a waiting period, though the idea of a waiting period is not new it is critical that it be established on a federal level. 'In 1988 Congress considered the 'Brady Amendment,' which required a one-week waiting period before a transferee could possess a transferred handgun' (Bender 201). During this one week span police could conduct a background check of the transferee.
A waiting period would not only allow time for the police to conduct there background checks on the transferee's but to also serve as a 'cooling off' period. A reasonable person who, in the heat of the moment, wants to buy a gun to commit a crime will have to wait to get it. The exception is that such a person will reconsider his or her drastic plans while waiting.
Increasing penalties for gun related crimes would also reduce gun violence. 'Enhanced firearms penalties provide law enforcement with long-term solutions to reduce gun violence, but it will not reduce overnight' (Bender 204). Some people consider stiff or automatic prison sentences for criminals that commit gun related crimes. A criminal that commits a disproportionate number of violent crimes will serve a mandated five years imprisonment for the first offense and twenty years for the second, with no parole and no probation (Bender 205). These people that commit gun related crimes have no chance to plea bargain for less time in prison or for other forms of punishment. The only draw back to this is that a first time ...

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