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What Does America Need to Fix the Gun Control Problem?

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Introduction

Tamara Pulis Tim Wall English 1213 29 March 2005 What Does America Need to Fix the Gun Control Problem? Gun control is hardly a new issue in America, much less in American politics. Ownership of guns is extraordinarily widespread in the United States, and has been for some time. Since the late 1950s, the share of American households reporting at least one firearm has remained fairly constant at just under 50 percent (Gun Control Debate 959). This shift in the character of ownership has taken place against a complicated legal backdrop, the basic feature of which at the federal level is the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the Brady Crime Prevention Act passed in 1994 (Cohen). Far outnumbering federal regulations are the various local and state laws that have long been the principal source of firearm control in the United States. People for gun control think that the best way to fix the current gun control situation is to focus on the design and manufacturing aspect, to close the "gun show loophole", and to start a National System of Registration and Licensing. ...read more.

Middle

As it stands now, there are more than 4,000 such events held each year where private collectors and hobbyists do not have to run background checks on potential buyers and as a result, they have become a key source from criminals and the illegal gun trade ("Gun Control Debate" 962). Those opposed to the notion point with some justice to its arbitrariness, since it would not affect the private sale of firearms at any other venue: to skirt the new law, private sellers could arrange to complete their transactions elsewhere. The "gun show loophole" illustrates the need to extend the terms of the Brady Act to every private transfer of a firearm, whether at a gun show or not ("Tried and Trusted"). Although gun owners might oppose such a system, the requirement would not be especially burdensome. It would merely mean having to use a licensed dealer as a broker for private firearms transactions. A much more ambitious, and less political, is the idea of a "National System of Registration and Licensing." ...read more.

Conclusion

long way toward explaining the country's high rates of violence, or that placing further limits on manufacturers, dealers, and owners would help to save lives. "Common sense," in short, should indeed be our guide in devising gun laws but its dictates are not as clear as the advocates of further regulation would have us believe. Banning whole categories of firearms amounts at most to the reassuring gesture, as with "assault" weapons, but it can also interfere with the legitimate right of self-defense, as with "Saturday-night specials". Safety measures like trigger locks may save a few lives, but allowing law-abiding citizens to carry handguns may do even more in this regard. Background checks are a helpful tool, but they are only that, not a solution for the gun problem. On either side of this consensus is the NRA playing its part to defend a nearly unconditional right "to keep and bear arms." On the other side are the HCI, the "Million Moms," and other proponents declaring if only there had been a law. ...read more.

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