"I have a very strict gun control policy: if there's a gun around, I want to be in control of it."
-- Clint Eastwood
Gun control has a history dating back to 1791, when the Second Amendment of the Constitution was ratified. However, more recently, the debate over gun control has escalated into a much more public issue to which many citizens can relate. After all, stories about incidents involving guns appear frequently today in newspapers and on television or the radio. One could say that the debate started with the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968, which banned ownership of guns by certain groups of people and regulated the sale of guns. Since then, two main groups have gradually appeared: people who oppose strict federal regulations on guns, and people who favor those federal regulations.
The Second Amendment to the Constitution states, “a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”1 Because the “militia” is composed of ordinary citizens that may take up arms when the country needs, all Americans should be constitutionally able to own a gun. This is one of the beliefs that proponents of gun ownership, including the National Rifle Association (NRA), hold. They feel that most people—excluding certain groups of people, such as criminals should be able to buy a gun with little trouble and without a waiting period. Also, they think that limiting gun ownership would restrict law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves from criminals and violent crime, and that people need to be able to protect themselves and their families. An article from the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action actually reports that in 2007, gun ownership was at an all-time high, while violent crime was approaching a 30-year low. Since 1991, the violent crime rate has decreased 38 percent.2
Supporters of restricting gun ownership argue exactly the opposite; they feel that if
more people were to have guns, there would be more violent crime incidents and more accidents
involving guns, especially among children and teens. More people in the United States die in a
gun-related occurrence than in any other country, and gun attacks are five times more likely to
cause death than attacks involving a knife.3 Those people who want more restricting laws have
good reason to do so, because they want to protect themselves and the people they know from
harm. On both sides of this issue, people feel that their ideas are the ones that will keep them
from harm. Unfortunately, their ideas differ so greatly (gun ownership versus no ownership) that
the issue is hotly debated today.
Between very limited gun control and very restricted gun...