Professor Harold Blanco
10 February 2014
Debate Paper: Gun Control
What underlying issues are being debated in the readings?
-According to Gun Control: An Overview, there are threetypes of issues that are being debated
which include sociological, ethical, and legal dimension.From the point of view of social
science, the arguments concern the efficacy of guncontrol laws in relation to reducing violent
crime. The ethical point of view pits the right to bear arms against the protection of citizens and
prevention of crime. The legal question involves how the Second Amendment to the US
Constitution should be interpreted. At hand is the question of whether or not the right to bear
arms extends to private citizens or applies only to so-called "well-regulated militias." Another
legal issue related to guncontrol is found in the question of whether more legislation is needed,
or whether better enforcement of current legislation is required.
According to supporters of stricter gun control, what are some possible advantages
in favor of supporting the issue?
-According to Counterpoint: Gun Control Saves Lives, Statistical reality shows us that the
incidence of gunviolence in a particular country proportionately reflects the stringency of that
country's gun laws; England and Japan, which have some of the tightest guncontrol measures in
the world, also feature some of the world's lowest gun homicide rates (per 100,000 people, 0.04
killings and 0.03, respectively). The United States, by contrast, has a rate of 3.42 gunmurders per
100,000 people-100 times greater than England or Japan.
Also, it is possible-and incumbent-to implement guncontrol measures that serve the
greater public good while respecting the rights of law-abiding citizens to own and use guns.
Hunters, sportsmen, and individuals who believe that guns can provide them with a means of
self-defense would retain their Second Amendment rights even after the passage of guncontrol
laws. Such reforms would include a renewal of the 1994 assault weapons ban, as well as a
rewriting of the ban's loopholes; no longer would gunmanufacturers be able to comply with the
letter of the law by making merely cosmetic changes to their weapons that do not diminish their
deadly capacity. A stringent system of gun registration for weapons and their owners, similar to
the systems in place to register motor vehicles and license drivers, would also pose no threat to
According to those in opposition, what are some possible disadvantages to stricter
gun control laws?
-Statistics alone cannot prove that government regulation of firearms results in less gunviolence.
Statistics do indicate that levels of gunviolence are extremely high in the United States,
especially in comparison to many other Western cultures. However, the Second Amendment
explicitly guarantees Americans the right to bear arms. While many believe that gun control
legislation is the definitive answer to gunviolence, such legislation would also take away rights
granted by the Constitution.
Also, the corresponding right to keep and own gunsensures citizens are not only armed to
protect themselves in the event that national security is threatened, but the right to bear arms also
prohibits the government from suppressing its own citizens by prohibiting personal possession of
weapons and then demanding cooperation through force or threats of violence.It grants people
the right to keep and bear arms and then also stipulates the reason for their use according to
Point: Controlling Gun Violence is more important than Controlling Guns.
What fallacies of reasoning emerge from the debate?
- According to Counterpoint: Gun Control Saves Lives, few Americans would argue, for
example, that their constitutionally-guaranteed right to bear arms translates into a right to carry a
machete blade in a shopping mall or to sport a shoulder-fired missile apparatus in the vicinity of
According to Point: Controlling Gun Violence is more important than Controlling Guns,
many question abolishing the Second Amendment in order to reduce gun violence which would
be taking away citizens’ rights.
Also, some people may believe that there should be no laws on controlling gun control which
could result in potentially more violence.
What alternative policy/programs have been proposed or might be developed?
-Gun Control: An Overview, states that in the 1930s, in reaction to gunviolence by organized
crime groups during Prohibition, the National Firearms Act and the Federal Firearms Act were
passed banning machine guns, imposing taxes ongun sales, and regulating certain kinds of sales
and shipments of guns. Even stricter legislation was created in 1968 with the GunControl Act,
which outlawed mail-order sales of guns. In part, the momentum for this act came from the
assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr. A few years
later, in 1972, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was created to issue licenses,
inspect firearms dealers, and enforce existing federal guncontrol laws.
Two pieces of legislation, both passed in 1994, became the focal point for the guncontrol
debate: the Violent Crime Controland Law Enforcement Act and the Brady Handgun Violence
Prevention Act. The former banned various types of assault weapons entirely, and the latter
(named after Ronald Reagan's press secretary Jim Brady, who was seriously wounded in a 1981
assassination attempt on the president) imposed a mandatory five-day waiting period and
background check on all sales of firearms to unlicensed individuals.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, also named after Jim Brady, is the largest
grassroots organization working to promote guncontrol legislation. Its positions include the claim
that certain classes of guns should not be legal for private ownership (including assault weapons
and small, lightweight handguns), that gunsin the home are more often used in accidental
shootings, suicides, or criminal activity than in acts of self-defense, and that gun violence strains
the US economy and health system. The Brady Center supports more guncontrol legislation and
better enforcement of current laws.
Point: Controlling Gun Violence is more important than Controlling Guns, states that the
Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 provides broad regulations of the firearm industry,
including the prohibition of the sale of guns to specified persons such as minors, drug users, or
those with a criminal record or a history of mental disorders. Other federal laws also regulate the
sale and possession of firearms. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act requires the
criminal history of gun purchasers to be checked at the pointof sale. A federal ban on assault
weapons expired in September 2004 and there are now numerous efforts to have the ban
reenacted. Although the US Supreme Court has consistently upheld the right to bear arms under
the Second Amendment, it has largely relegated gunregulation to individual states.
What implications does the debate have for families in society?
-The debate is conflicting for families in society since both sides could be a benefit and a
disadvantage. Making more laws could potentially keep families without protection while
criminals could still illegally obtain the guns. On the contrary, taking away laws could give
families more protection, but also give criminals more freedom to obtain guns as well.
Gun violence is a huge problem in America, but establishing more gun laws is not the
answer. If we do, more innocent people who are trying to protect themselves will be hurt or
killed while criminals continue to obtain guns illegally like they always have. We need to let our
citizens have the right to protect themselves and their families.
According to BJS, NCVS data from 1987 to 1992 indicate that in each of those years,
roughly 62,200 victims of violent crime (1 percent of all victims of such crimes) used guns to
defend themselves. Another 20,000 persons each year used guns to protect property. Persons in
the business of self-protection (police officers, armed security guards) may have been included in
the survey. Another source of information on the use of firearms for self-defense is the National
Self-Defense Survey con- ducted by criminology professor Gary Kleck of Florida State
University in the spring of 1993. Citing responses from 4,978 households, Dr. Kleck estimated
that hand- guns had been used 2.1 million times per year for self- defense, and that all types of
guns had been used approximately 2.5 million times a year for that purpose during the 1988 to
1993 period (Gun Control Overview).
When it comes to the question of does control reduce crime rate, a study has been shown
that it doesn’t. In 1993, Kleck and Patterson surveyed the then contemporary literature on the
effects of gun controls on crime rates. As part of this larger survey, the authors review 13 studies
that use state data. They observe that two studies find that gun controls reduce violent crimes,
two have mixed results, and nine find no reductionin crime because of gun control (Moorhouse&
There has also been a lot of reference to other countries and how gun control is effective
at reducing their gun violence. According to John R. Lott, Jr, while many national gun-control
advocates would like to see the United States become a nation like Britain, in which few citizens
own guns, gun ownership has been rapidly increasing—from 27 percent to 37 percent of voters
in the 1988 and 1996 exit polls. Something on the order of 75 million Americans own more than
200 million guns. Lott tested it with data from all 3.000-plus counties over the years 1977 to
1994—a far larger data set than in previous studies. Using sophisticated statistical techniques—
he is an economist—he focused on state and county crime rates before and after concealedweapons laws were adopted (Barone, Michael).
In conclusion, no more gun laws need to be established as it does not decrease gun
violence. Our right to bear arms is way that we, as citizens, can protect ourselves from those who
ignore the law and illegally carry guns. This is our right that should not be taken away.
Barone, Michael. “Review.” Public Interest 133 (1988): 121. Points of View Reference
Center. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.
"Gun Control Overview." Congressional Digest 92.3 (2013): 3-7. Academic Search
Premier. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.
Moorhouse, John C., and Brent Wanner. "Does Gun Control Reduce Crime Or Does
Crime Increase Gun Control?" CATO Journal 26.1 (2006): 103-124. Academic
Search Premier. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.