Political Considerations in Gun Control 1
The Pros and Cons of Gun Control 4
National Rifle Association (NRA). 8
The subject of gun regulation is controversial in the view ownership, use, and misuse. Over eighty million people own guns in America, this represents about of all the homes in America are in possession of a gun, or some kind of firearm. The political arm of the society has tried to push for legislation related to gun control and regulation. State gun laws vary greatly from depending on many geographical and political factors, with about sixty percent of Democrats and thirty percent of Republicans swaying towards enacting of stronger gun ownership.
NRA which stands for National Rifle Association was formed in 1871, as a group to assist people improve their skills in marksmanship. The group was later so much heavily politicized in the late 1970s, with newer members of the group wanting to focus more on halting gun control legislation, instead of the original vision of enhancing recreational hunting and an association aimed at safety training.
Political Considerations in Gun Control
The contentious issue of gun control has garnered alot of political debate, that have seen, many books and articles written about the subject. The political debates about gun control are largely about public policymaking. The NRA as an organisation has overly politicized the issue of gun control. The US gun control laws are among the most permissive in the western world. Most Americans are quite divided on the subject of firearms control, with some people supporting stricter firearms laws, and those who prefer for the laws to remain the same way they are. The public opinion also is divided on the contentious topic, and how to address the underlying issues on the best approach to apply in gun control policies.
The topic of gun control attracts more debates that mainly revolve on the matters of safety. Since guns are weapons that may be used for a variety of purposes, some can be the wrong hands and may be used for unwarranted killings. There are some people who would wish to make it more difficult for people to get the kinds of guns that are manufactured the sole purpose of killing people, and leaving those kinds of firearms that are used primarily for hunting. The Washington legislator faces alot of challenges when dealing with the matter, together with the worry of how the political opponents will scrutinize them on their opinion on the matter.
Sowell, (123) argues that the Brady Law and The Assault Weapons Ban are some of the most important gun control policies by the federal government. The Brady Law was enacted in 1994; this policy required that a criminal background check was conducted on people, before they were sold a firearm. The law was named after the then press secretary to the president Ronald Reagan, Mr. James Brady. This was a precursor of the assassination attempt on the president in 1981, which was seriously injured. It focused on establishing a national criminal background check system that kept records on criminals’ and the mentally unfit, with the view of not letting them have access to guns.
Most gun control regulation policies come from several parts of the United States Federal law. The Second Amendment to the United States constitution has given rise to the debate whether the amendment only protects the militia service, or whether it protects the personal right to have ownership of firearms. Many events have occurred that have made the government to react to issues related to gun violence, such as the Tucson shooting. In the early twenty first century, the political atmosphere was much not of the notion that some significant changes will happen in the federal or state gun laws. There are many clear indications that public policy changes on gun control can be made, or can be introduced into the congress soon. The main reason cited on why people need to own guns id primarily for personal protection, from criminals, or from whatever sources of threat.
Literally, most debates on gun control began after the aftermath of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy assassinations. Individual gun rights policies were enacted by the congress known as the Gun Control Act of 1968. The second Amendment rhetoric in the 1970s escalated as an argument against stronger firearms laws. The gun rights granted by the second amendment read as “ A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear firearms, shall not be infringed
However, many political viewpoints are in the agreement that the second amendment guaranteed the right of the government to keep an armed militia to protect the country. Disagreements only come about by whether or not it provides the right of any person to own or use a gun at any place or at any time. Most debates from liberal constitutional scholars have held the view that the second amendment only protects the collective right of the states to keep armed militias. On the other hand, the conservative scholars have held the view of individual rights position that this amendment guarantees the individual’s right to own guns as private property. They support the fact that many restrictions on selling and buying guns infringe on people’s rights. Between 1968 and 1996, about twenty eight states have relaxed restrictions on concealed firearm carrying. By 2000, twenty two states have accepted concealed guns carrying anywhere, including houses of worship (Sowell, 432).
Other federal laws that have been enacted in relation to control and taxation on guns owned by individuals are: In 1943, the National Firearms Act imposed a tax on the sale of machine guns and short barrel firearms; this was as a result of massive public outrage about the gangster activities. The Federal Firearms Act enacted in 1938 required the licensing of gun dealers. In 1968, the Gun Control Act expanded licensing and record keeping, it banned felons and mentally retarded from buying guns, and banned the mail order sale of guns. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was created in 1972 to oversee federal regulation of guns. The Firearms Owners Protection Act was enacted in 1986; that saw the relaxation of gun sale restrictions, which was influenced by the NRA during the reign of President Ronald Reagan. 1993 saw the enactment of the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act, which required gun dealers to perform background checks on buyers, as well as creating a national database of those prohibited to own and use guns. Senator Dianne Feinstein sponsored the Violent Crime Control Act in 1994 which banned the sale of new assault weapons for the next decade, while Republican Carolyn McCarthy supported the expiry of the law in 2004. Come 2003 with the Tiahrt Amendment that protected gun dealers and manufacturers from a number of law suits. In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech University mass shooting, the National Instant Background Check System was put in place in 2007, where the congress hoped to close all the loopholes in the national database of those people prohibited owning and using guns (Sowell, 34).
The Pros and Cons of Gun Control
State licensing of gun dealers help law enforcers to al with rogue gun dealers, as it permits easier sanctioning of the dealers. It helps to deal with issues of gun trafficking and making it more difficult for dangerous people and criminals to have easy access to guns. NRA, on the other hand, feels that the already existing government’s licensing programs have achieved these desires, and any additional programs will just contribute to unnecessary government bureaucracy.
Gun controls enhance record keeping and retention by dealers and law enforcement agencies, so that data on gun sales may be in gun tracing and assist in criminal investigations. Without such record, it is difficult to know which people own guns who might be criminals and make it difficult for investigators to perform follow ups on traffickers and members of gangs who buy guns and later resale them. NRA however, is against such registration arguing that it may aid confiscation of guns, and that criminals will never have the opportunity to register their guns legally.
Control of firearms helps in keeping illegal guns away from the streets thus eliminating the excuse by some traffickers who lose their guns. NRA argues that theft victims always report their lost and stolen firearms, and therefore, control would further lead to victimizing the person. NRA insists that such controls would set an artificial time limit if the owner did not realize in time that his or her gun has been stolen or lost. Gun control laws encourage accountability of dealers through dealer inspection and security. The congress would set the specific security requirements, which would enable law enforcers to inspect the dealers’ stores, inventories, and records. Ballistic fingerprinting and microstamping technology assist in crime gun identification. The requirement by dealers to test fire each weapon before selling would improve maintaining criminal database if they submit the expelled shell casing. The unique microscopic markings on each fired bullet provide the law enforcers with the methods of investigating gun crimes and tracing criminals. Whereas NRA believes that the use of such technology would make the rice of guns to go beyond people’s budgets. NRA opposes the use of these technologies because they will require registration and bans on private sales (Sowell, 116).
In view of safety, guns should be sold with child safety locks, as well as including personalized technology on firearms so that only authorized users can operate the guns. NRA thinks that this is an intrusion, and instead supports the idea that voluntary firearms training on safety matters decreases the occurrence of accidents involving guns. Control helps in keeping guns away from the reach of children, and legislation prevents unlicensed people from selling firearms to minors. The legislation also restricts the sale and ownership of military style and semi-automatic assault weapons, together with guns and weapons with large capacity magazines. NRA, on the other hand, believes that such a control would infringe on the right of self-defence of an individual, and they are of the opinion that no evidence exists to support the fact that banning assault weapons would reduce crime. Legislation protects employers at the workplace who opt to ban guns at the company’s premises; this would also discourage students carrying guns to schools and colleges. Federal gun controls allow municipalities to pass their own local gun law, which ensures public safety at the local level. NRA has the feeling that such many local controls would violent the tenets of the Second Amendment, and that varying laws from city to city would introduce confusion, and inconvenience citizens who want to travel from state to state, as well as forcing them to memorize each city’s local gun laws.
One segment of the legislation will guarantee individuals to own guns, while another amendment will make it difficult to own guns, making a segment of the people that their constitutional rights are being infringed upon. Guns are used to commit most violent crimes, so restricting ownership tends to reduce the occurrence of such crimes. Though, criminals will still access guns one way or another, thus restriction will leave the law abiding citizens vulnerable too criminals. Ironically, the regions with more relaxed firearms control laws tend to be quite safer than those places with stricter restrictions (Pierce, 155).
Special Groups and control
Women Against Gun Control (WAGC) is a coalition of women founded in 1994; it seeks to encourage other women to exercise their gun rights by arming themselves against potential threats such as rape. A large proportion of the group’s mission was to inculcate in the minds of Americans that not all women share the same sentiments that fewer guns will lead to lesser crimes. Their aim was to discourage American women from believing in the opinions of Hillary Clinton and Diane Feinstein, who the group claimed wanted the American people to believe all women, supports gun control. WAGC is very active politically both at the state and national levels, they conduct alot of research on laws they think is harmful to women’s capabilities to protect themselves against attacks by owning a gun. They have a large presence in the media promoting gun rights and circulating pro gun advocacy materials. They encourage women to train on how to use guns, with several of the WAGC members being the firearms instructors (Wilcox, &, Bruce, pp 1-4)
The belief that guns give women a fighting chance is fundamental to their approach to gun control. The group filed a court briefing before the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2003. Their argument was that any law that “impairs access to firearms for self-defence will have a disparate impact on women”. WAGC continued to argue that women possess special interests in owning firearms for self-defence since they are the weaker sex who must be afforded protection from men. They also called on women not to buy national brands such as AT&T, Levi-Strauss, Sara Lee, and Starbucks because of their stance on gun control issues.
National Rifle Association (NRA)
Daynes, &, Tatalovich, (155) argues that the NRA was granted a charter in 1871 by the state of New York, and Civil War General Ambrose Burnside became the first president. The primary goal of the association was to promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis. They developed a training ground on Long Island named the Creed Farm; build a rifle range. Political opposition to encouraging marksmanship in New York force d the NRA to move to New Jersey. In 1903, their interest started growing in promoting the shooting sports within the ranks of American youth, including establishing rifle clubs in schools and colleges. Today Camp Perry in Ohio has become the home of national matches that have seen the excellence in marksmanship.
Over 6000 people compete every year in in pistol, small bore, and high powered events. Stimulated by the Second Amendment, they formed the legislative Affairs Division in 1934. Recognizing the need for greater political defence of the Second Amendment, The institute for Legislative Action (ILA) was formed in 1975. For financial support security, they formed the NRA Foundation to raise funds for gun safety and educational projects for the benefit of the general public. The contributions of the foundation help youths, women, hunters, competitive shooters, gun collectors, law enforcement agencies, and people with physical disabilities. NRA has become a political force to reckon with, and since its inception, it is the premier firearms educational body in the world (Singh, 389).
Most controversies of the NRA stem from the Second Amendment and the issues of gun control. There are even controversies that stem out of the NRA itself. Between 1998 and 2003, Charlton Heston who was the president of NRA had earlier been a supporter of civil rights movement and a revered actor, who was subject to controversial issues regarding his remarks and speeches. He made various political, and he has been criticized by many groups that he had offended, by some thinking that he was addressing how political correctness is a concept that limits free speech and thought. On the other hand his statement could be viewed as a prejudiced outcry against minority groups.
Heston was criticized by Moore in response to Columbine High School tragedy for his support for the unrestricted ownership of firearms. Ted Nugent’s Kamp for kids, is concerned with teaching children nature preservation and archery. His speeches have been met with many controversies regarding sex, race, which have put him in conflicts with activist groups. His statement on South African people was deep-rooted in prejudice when he talked about apartheid not being cut and dry, that all men were not created equal. NRA has so many celebrities and famous public figures are involved with NRA which has type caste it as conservative, prejudiced, gun long group of people who are out to continue propagating their philosophies. NRA is essentially a civil rights group, aimed at protecting a specific civil right in the Second Amendment (Spitzer, 14).
Gun control laws are not easy to pass in the congress since gun rights groups and other lobbyists wield enough impact on Capitol Hill through contributing to campaigns. These groups such as the NRA have much success in pulling down pro gun control candidates. Gun control advocates contribute less as compared to their rivals. Even the current president Barrack Obama believes in an individual’s right to own arms, conversely, he is also of the opinion that the country must do whatever it takes to eradicate gun violence. Gun control is a controversial issue, with a section of the society needing stricter control laws, while other prefer the relaxation of these control legislation. The Democratic party have generally adopted the stance of stricter gun controls, with many anti-gun legislation being passed under Democratic reigns or Congress. NRA insists that gun rights are natural civil liberty that must be protected ion the constitution, and would uphold a policy of no gun control.
Spitzer, R. The Politics of Gun Control, Chapter 1. Chatham House Publishers, (1995).
Pierce, R. (1982). “Second Amendment Survey”. Northern Kentucky Law Review Second Amendment Symposium: Rights in Conflict in the 1980’s 10 (1): 155.
Wilcox, C. &,Bruce, W. The changing politics of gun control. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 1–4. (1998). Print
Sowell T. Ever Wonder Why? And Other Controversial Essays. Hoover Institution Press. 1st Edition. (2006).Print
Singh, R. Governing America: the politics of a divided democracy. Oxford Oxford University Press. p. 368. (2003).
Daynes, B, and W. Tatalovich, Moral controversies in American politics. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe. p. 172. (2005).Print
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