Gun Laws

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In the United
States, the issues and emotions surrounding gun control often obfuscate
what is in essence, a matter of personal choice and responsibility.
Currently, a majority of Americans believe that tighter gun restrictions,
than those already in place, should be implemented to reduce crime
rates and the incidence of mass
shootings
; and, with support ebbing from the recent Virginia
Tech massacre, many politicians and preachers alike have advocated
this reactionary
policy
. Although this action is merited by adding comfort to
victims, such measures do not produce a more peaceful society than
presently, and may inhibit law-abiding citizens from protecting
themselves.

With the first
outcries of accidental gun-related suicides of children, the American
media along with bureaucrats have jumped on the legislative bandwagon
by claiming these tragedies could have been prevented through more
gun laws already in the books. Paradoxically, what many Americans
would find as means to lower crime rates — tighter gun control laws
— has shown to cause the exact opposite in many case studies in
other
countries
. In countries like England, for example, the rate
of violent crime declined when more guns were previously available,
and has since sky rocketed after the government enacted tighter
gun restriction than in the past.
Furthermore, in many cases "no-gun zones" (schools, post
offices, and airplanes) have been the host to many of the most heinous
gun incidences in the nation's
history
. In cases like the Virginia Tech shooting, the victims
were law-abiding students and professors who were deterred by the
no-gun zone policy, and the attacker took advantage of this situation.
If these restrictions were not in place, and the assailant expected
an armed campus, he may have been deterred. In addition, the economist
James Ostrowski attests,
in reference to the attacks of September 11, 2001 "…a $400
billion security apparatus of the federal government couldn't protect
us from catastrophic terrorism, but a few handguns in the cockpits,
long discouraged by federal policy, might have saved the day."
Given this tendency, one must question the validity of gun laws,
and their ability to protect the innocent who abide by such laws
from the criminals who do not.

From ghastly
news segments to sound bites from politicians, the public is constantly
bombarded with warnings surrounding gun
ownership
; however, case studies have shown that over two-million
violent crimes are stopped yearly by potential victims, with 98%
of impending crimes stopped by merely brandishing a gun.
While accidental adolescent household gun incidences do happen —
about thirty a year — the potential benefits could outweigh these
incidences, given that five times as many crimes are deterred by
guns, compared to how many are committed with guns.
Political proposals for gun safety, such as mandatory gun locks,
have potentially harmful effects, as unlocking and unloading a gun
gives a victim less time to protect themselves than if the restrictions
were not in place. It seems that instilling gun laws equate to less
safety, but politicians refuse to let facts intervene in decision-making.

Although
the proponents of gun laws simply may be voicing their good intentions,
this does not justify disenfranchisement nor does it allow for sound
policy. Gun restrictions are futile as a deterrent to criminals,
and are harmful to the populous. If politicians were capable of
actually caring for the welfare of the general population, then
they would not pass such reckless restrictions.

November
13, 2007

Carlos Morales
[send him mail]
is currently a student at the University of Texas at San Antonio,
and is majoring in pre-med Biology.

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