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Gun Control: Does the Possibility Exist?

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In May of 1968, five days before his assassination, Robert F. Kennedy made the following observation, "With all of the violence, murder, and killings we've had in the United States, I think you will agree that we must keep firearms from people who have no business with guns" (Peter, 1977, p.236). Thirty-seven years later, the debate on gun control rages on. With the majority of media coverage focusing on gun violence, the United States government and the citizens alike must concentrate more efforts on gun control. Both pro and anti-proponents of the gun control debate frequently cite the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States; each side believing that this amendment supports their views. Under close examination, the gun control law, known as the Brady Bill, will prove to be ineffective. Local authorities must investigate the failure of gun buy back programs. Currently there are no background checks placed on individuals who have been clinically diagnosed with a mental disorder when purchasing a firearm. While a complete and total ban on gun ownership may not be the ultimate answer for gun control, more stringent regulations must be implemented and enforced for future gun owners.

The Right and Responsibilty to Bear Arms

The Second Amendment of the United States 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." This amendment is the most abused and misunderstood part of the Constitution. Politicians and gun lobbyist alike do their best to hide behind this amendment for personal and political gains. Recently there has been discussion and legislative action regarding the purchase, possession

and transportation of firearms, and proposals to curtail ownership. Despite this effort, no definitive resolution has been presented by the courts to explain what the second ammendement protects. Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura (2000) made the following statement, "...the main point that I see in the Second Amendment is that we are granted the right to bear arms along with the reponsibility to bear from them for the good of the people" (p.112). The United States government and The United States Supreme Court need to be objective in their thinking by putting the nation ahead of any political gain or affiliation and conveying a definitive explanation on gun control and the Second Amendement.

Criminals do not

Wait Five Days

Following the assassination president of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed, "What in the name of conscience will it take to pass a truly effective gun-control law? Now in this new hour of tragedy, let us spell out our grief in constructive action" (Peter, 1977, p.236). Thirty years later, on November 30, 1993, President Clinton signed the "Brady Bill" into law. This bill was in honor of James S. Brady, former Assistant to the President and White House Press Secretary. On March 30, 1981, an assassination attempt was made on President Ronald Reagan. In addition to wounding President Reagan, James S. Brady also sustained a gunshot wound to the head. After making a full recovery and still being able to fulfill his duties as assistant and press secretary, Mr. Brady went on to lobby for stronger gun regulations.

When the former mayor of New York City and former servant of the Reagan party Rudolph W. Giuliani (2002) wrote about the Brady Bill in his book he stated, "For me, the fact alone underlined the idea that when someone needs to buy a gun "right this minute" he probably shouldn't have one" (p. 224). The Brady Bill established a five-day waiting period on hand gun purchase through licensed dealers. It also required local authorities to conduct background checks on handgun purchasers. In 1998, an amendment was added to the Brady Bill that replaced the five-day waiting period with a National Felon Identification System. Firearm dealers are required to conduct this background check on all gun purchases, not only handgun purchases.

Politicians are partial to this bill because it gives the impression that they are taking a tough stance on gun control and appeasing advocates on both sides of the gun control debate. According to co-authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (2005) of the book Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores The Hidden Side of Everything, "This bill makes no sense. Why? Because regulation of a legal market is bound to fail when a healthy black market exists for the same product" (p. 132). The reason this bill is not effective in crime control is because criminals are unlikely to delay their firearm purchase for five days, or for that matter pursue any "legal" avenue to get them. Since most criminals are impulsive, their guns are likely to be purchased in crime prominent neighborhoods from private owners. Another misconception of the Brady Bill is the reduction of violent crimes. A study conducted by John R. Lott Jr. (2000), a resident scholar for the American Enterprise Institute and author of numerous books such as More Guns, Less Crime, found there was no academic analysis to conclude that the Brady Bill reduced violent crimes such as homicides or suicides. Levitt and Dubner (2005) go on to say, "The Brady Act accordingly, has proven to be practically impotent in lowering crime. A study of imprisoned felons showed that even before the Brady Act only about one-fifth of the criminals had bought their guns through a licensed dealer" (p. 132).

Another flaw in the Brady Bill is known as the "Gun Show Loophole." The loophole exists because gun sellers are not required to perform a background check on individuals purchasing guns at a private show. Minors, criminals, and terrorists are able to purchase firearms such as a "Saturday Night Special", pre-ban assault rifles, and even grenade launchers from a private owner without showing a driver's license. Legislation needs to be passed on a national level, not entirely banning guns, but restricting the flow of guns into the wrong hands.

Nice Photo Op,

But Bad Policy

Another misconception of gun control is a program on a local level known as the "Gun Buy Back Program." As Levitt and Dubner (2005) state, "...guns that get turned in are heirlooms or junk...and the number of surrendered guns is no match for even the number of new guns simultaneously coming to market" (p.133). When formulating a statistical equation, Levitt and Dubner examined the number of hand guns in the United States against the number of homicides each year and came to the conclusion



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