Gun Control

Gun Control In America

In the 1700s, our founding forefathers argued for the need to bear arms. "A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun," said Thomas Jefferson to Peter Carr in 1785. "While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks." While guns are undoubtedly part of the American tradition, the issue of gun control has arisen in modern society because some question the way the law has been abused. There is little need for arms in a democratic society, some argue, when all it does is put our children and our society at risk.

One issue in the gun control discussion is whether citizens should be able to have "conceal-and-carry" weapons with them at all times. If a citizen wishes to obtain a concealed carry permit, then he or she must first pass a background check, meet eligibility requirements and complete a handgun safety course. Statistics show that crime actually decreases once right-to-carry laws are enacted. Florida passed the law in 1987, when crime was at an all-time high.

In the years to follow, very few incidents involving concealed weapons occurred so the Dade County Police department stopped tracking them. In fact, from 1987 to 1996, the homicide rate dropped 36% (compared to 0.4% nationwide), the firearm homicide rate decreased 37% (compared to a nationwide increase of 15%) and the handgun homicide rate decreased 41% (compared to an increase of 24% nationwide).

Age restriction is another question in gun control today. Obviously, there is no specification, as to how old one must be to purchase, carry or fire a gun, outlined in our Constitution. In fact, back in those days, boys as young as ten were armed. Today, there are dangers in letting kids run around with guns. For instance, there have been nine school massacres from 1993 to 1997. In one year, 6,000 children were caught with guns at school. Nearly 500 children and teenagers are killed by gun shot wounds each year. Federal law 18 USC Section 922 prohibits children under 18 from owning handguns and Federal law 18USC Section 922 prohibits guns in school zones. In most states, teenagers may fire a gun if they're accompanied by an adult.

The issue of gun control is difficult to navigate, for the most part, because there are politics involved. The NRA and Handgun Control Inc are major lobbying organizations, donating hundreds of thousands in political financing. Democrats fear if they are tough on the gun issue, they will lose a number of loyal voters and will lose favor in public opinion polls (since the majority of Americans see no problem with owning guns.) Republicans feel if they keep pushing for more rights, they'll look like gun-toting maniacs who have no sympathy for the families of gun deaths victims.

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