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Control Laws in the United States

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This paper will show that gun control laws in the United States have had no significant effects on reducing crime. Although the anti-gun lobby supposes that passing more stringent laws will reduce the level of crime it will be shown that this just places additional hardships on the law abiding citizens of the United States. The work of various studies and reports from the United States government and private foundations will be the mainstay supporting concepts of this paper.

There are 20,000 plus nationwide gun control laws that are currently in force in the United States and for a large part they have had no effect in reducing crime. The last big federal crime bill, the Brady Law, has also not been at all effective. I believe that the laws already in existence need to be better enforced and that there should be fewer new laws. The laws already on the books are hampering the law abiding citizen, and not addressing the criminals who break the laws.

Politicians parade the fact that these sets of laws would give the police the tools they need and the U.S. would become as safe as it ever was. If this was indeed the case then why have crimes involving firearms increased every year since then? (Moorhouse, 2006) Certainly the laws that have been enacted over the last 45 years, starting with the Gun Control Act of 1968, would have filled in any holes in the original legislation. In some parts of the country it is nearly impossible to obtain a handgun, and in some places handguns are prohibited altogether.

Take for instance Washington, D.C. which in 1976 instituted some of the nation strictest gun laws. During the next 25 years they were at the top of the list for cities with the highest homicide rate per 100,000 people. Homicides committed with a firearm, and the murder rate, actually increased by 51% during that time; meanwhile the national rate of murders in the rest of the United States committed by firearms dropped by 36% ("Crime in the," 2002). As criminologist, Dr. Gary Kleck, from Florida State University, told the National Research Council that he started his study of gun laws as a strong supporter of them but in the end changed his view to "beyond even the skeptic position." Dr. Klecks evidence points the fact that "general gun availability does not measurably increase rates of homicide, suicide, robbery, assault, rape, or burglary in the U.S." (Don B. Kates, Jr, 1991). Even President Carter set out to prove that more gun laws were needed in the United States and through a Justice Department grant hired Professor James Wright of Auckland University to study gun control laws and their effectiveness. Professor Wright found that waiting periods, background checks, and other gun control laws were not effective in reducing violent crime (David Mitchell, 1985). The Journal of the American Medical Association also found that the Brady Law failed to reduce the number of homicides committed with a firearm. In August 2000 the Journal found that the states with waiting periods and background checks did "not [experience] reductions in homicide rates or overall suicide rates." (Jens Ludwig & Philip J. Cook, 2000). These and many other studies point to the fact that there are no distinguishable positive effects from gun control laws in the United States at either a federal or state level.

There have been various studies conducted with convicted criminals showing that they are more concerned with an armed public at large and how this has affected their choices when committing crimes. In a poll conducted by the U.S., Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice of incarcerated criminals, 66% stated that "a criminal is not going to mess around with a victim he knows is armed with a gun" and 74% stated that "one reason burglars avoid houses when people are at home is that they fear being shot during the crime" ("The armed criminal," 1985). In 1982 in the city of Kennesaw, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, the city council passed a law that required the head of each household to keep at least one firearm in the house. As a result the burglary rate dropped an impressive 89% and ten years later in 1991 the burglary rate was still 72% lower than it had been in 1981 (Gary Kleck, 1991). The Lott-Mustard Study found that allowing citizens to carry concealed guns deterred violent crimes, without increasing accidental deaths (John R. Lott, 1996). The data showed that approximately 1,500 murders could have been avoided yearly. The data also suggests that rapes would decline by over 4,000, robberies by over 11,000, and assault by over 60,000. Another study by Professor Gary Kleck, University of Florida, found that civilians alone use firearms between 1.5 million to 2 million times per year to thwart personal crimes and protect themselves and loved ones (Gary Kleck, 1991). His study also found that very few of these incidents resulted in death or resulted in injury. It would appear that most criminals either take flight or acquiesce when confronted by a citizen with a firearm. These studies and countless more show that an armed citizenry is a deterrent and can protect themselves from violent criminals.

Further, a look at gun control in other countries shows that their restrictive laws have actually caused an increase in crime. In great Britain the crime rate was already below the rates in the United States, however, after enacting a draconian gun ban, handgun crime in the United Kingdom rose by 40% in 1997 ("Handgun crime 'up'," 2001). The Reuters News Agency stated that you are more likely to be robbed in England than the United States. "The rate of robbery is now 1.4 times higher in England and Wales than in



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