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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Gun Control vs. Gun Rights: Whose Arguments Win the Case?

After the San Bernardino massacre in December, 2015, the debate around gun control became more intense than ever. Barack Obama addressed the nation with the intention to increase the awareness and attract the public’s attention towards the issue. He emphasized the importance of imposing legislative measures that would make it harder for criminals to obtain weapons. There is a great irony behind the fact that gun control is a radical issue in the United States – the country based upon the principles of liberalism. The gun rights lobby is strong, but so is the awareness about the fact that the immediate effect of gun control will be reduction of the number of weapon owners in the U.S.; and the measures will positively affect the effectiveness of crime prevention.

Gun rights activists stand behind their right to possess arms for self-defense, which is guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the Constitution. Controlling the possession of guns is not an issue in European countries, where the new law is intended to ban more categories of semi-automatic weapons. Britain and Australia have some of the strictest gun laws, but their citizens still don’t have problems regarding self-defense. According to a research paper on gun control published by the Pew Research Center, 43% of the surveyed participants said that the Republican Party had their sympathy in terms of gun control views, whereas 37% supported the campaign of the Democratic Party. 79% of the Republicans and 88% of the Democrats agreed that private gun sales should be subjected to background checks.

In 2013, 79% of gun owners said that having a weapon in their homes made them feel safer; and 78% said they enjoyed having guns. Gun culture has its roots in the colonial history of the country. The Second Amendment states that “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.” The proponents of gun control certainly agree that weapons are necessary for the militia to cement its authority, but they argue that gun restrictions have always existed and that new, greater restrictions will not be in conflict with the Constitution.

Gun rights activists mainly rely on the argument that each individual has the right to own a gun that’s intended for self-defense. According to their statements, gun ownership does not cause more crime, but it does contribute towards the reduction of crime rates because criminals do not feel confident attacking homes knowing that most families hold at least one gun for self-protection. Switzerland, which allows all able-bodied male citizens to keep fully automatic firearms at home, has a low crime rate by European standards. However, the Swiss laws are still very restrictive because the owners of the guns bear legal responsibility for their weapons being accessed by third parties.

Regardless of the way gun rights activists interpret the Second Amendment, there is no argue against the fact that fewer guns in the hands of citizens will lead to fewer incidents, attacks, suicide cases, and deaths. Restrictions in gun ownership have always been present in the United States. A 1792 federal law, which required all men eligible for militia to hold a gun and ammunition, also imposed frequent reports for inspection of those guns. There is nothing radical in gun control; those restrictions are necessary for a more peaceful society.