Philip J. Cook and James A. Leitzel have described the primary goal of gun control laws very well. They have stated that “Gun control has long been a contentious issue in the United States spectrum of laws regulating the manufacture, import, sale, possession and use of guns, with the ultimate purpose of reducing gun violence, can be deemed gun control laws” (Cook 91). Besides the goal of gun control, the Second Amendment in the Constitution of the United States protects one’s individual right to bear arms. However, it does not go without saying that gun laws are necessary but some of those laws only affect the law abiding citizen and not the criminal. Here are simply the first two common penal codes for the State of California related to guns and felons. PC 29800(A)(1) is a felonious crime for a felon to be in possession of a firearm and PC 30305(A)(1) is a felonious crime for a felon to be in possession of ammunition. Gun Laws are obviously targeted to lower violent gun crime, but adding a bullet button to an AR-15 and adding an additional step to reload the weapon, affects one who abides by the law, not a convicted felon. The convicted felon who wishes to possess an AR-15 with its fullest capabilities, they will use their underground to obtain one from another state. There have already been laws passed that target convicted felons and numerous others for street gangs for being involved with firearms.
The convicted felon is still going to possess a firearm regardless of its capabilities. Limiting the capability of a firearm for legal gun owners, simply limits our capability of self-defense. Criminals will obtain their firearms from sources out of the country and out of state where the manufacturing of the AR-15 for example has not been limited to its reloading capability. Steven D. Levitt had stated “There is, however, little or no evidence that changes in gun control laws in the 1990’S can account for falling crime” (Levitt 174). If violent crime is such a problem in this country and believing it to be the cause of firearms, why don’t we simply make the sentencing of firearm offenses and illegal possession of firearm offenses stricter and more severe to send a message to those who are committing these violent acts? That is a question that would have to be answered by our state prosecutors and governor. It is such an essential right to bear arms, and to put in place acts that’ll create difficulty for those who are legally allowed to possess a firearm to buy more firearms and ammunition, will not affect a criminal who does not obtain their firearms and ammunition legally.
The ideology of making it more prominent for law abiding citizens to apply for a conceal carry permit would and could make a difference in violent crimes. It would be common sense to think a criminal will second guess themselves before confronting a person with the intentions of robbing them of some sort if there is any chance they could be killed in the process as a result of self-defense. Gary Kleck and E. Britt Patterson had found that “…research also indicates that the presence of guns usually inhibits the expression of aggression, reducing likelihood of attack.” (Kleck 250). The more persons who abide by the law, that will bear arms, defend themselves from an attack, will create more of a deterrence to criminals than enacting laws that make it more difficult to bear arms than it already it is. The states have already been conducting background checks, firearms safety courses, and psychological evaluations before deciding whether or not a person is capable and suitable to conceal carry or own a firearm.
The second amendment was put into place for a reason. However, there is two ways to interpret the second amendment. The opposing view believes that it is the “…state’s right” (Kates 1) to be able to arm their military and that it provides nothing to the people of the state. The pro-gun position, states the people have the right and individual right to bear their ‘own’ arms and that it is our ‘human right’. This says that it should not matter the capability of the firearm, unless one would want to be extreme with the idea and say that one should not be able to possess a .50 Caliber machine gun. Well yes, that would be unreasonable so let’s not take this argument to an unreasonable position. Anyways, the solution to the recent rise in crime in all of California including violent gun crimes, gang crimes, and drug offenses, would be for the people themselves to stop voting for the propositions provided by politicians that are releasing the criminals who are going to repeat their offenses over and over while your capability and availability of obtaining firearms becomes less and less. Thus creating a more vulnerable environment for you and your family to become a victim of a violent crime.
At the start of 2018, they will be introducing background checks for the purchase of ammunition for your firearms, for each purchase. This makes the process more difficult and longer that could deter persons from going through the troubles of buying ammunition for their firearms. Of course, one who is simply owning a firearm for defending their own property, they would not need as much ammunition as one who shoots firearms for competition. But this doesn’t mean this new implication of making the process of owning firearms more difficult is a reasonable implication. Conducting background checks for every purchase of ammunition is simply one more example of gun control that will not affect criminals. The entire point of creating gun laws, is keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. Criminals do not travel to stores to purchase ammunition.
Erwin Chemerinksy states a legal issue that may come to light in the hands of the civil courts which is “…greater restrictions on particular types of guns and ammunition that are likely to cause grave harms; and more liability for gun manufacturers in civil cases” (Chemerinksy 484). This is just one of numerous issues that Chemerinksy talks about that he believes will be brought to the hands of judges in civil courts as gun laws become more restrictive. It is reasonable to think that automatic weapons should be restricted, but like I said before, disassembling a weapon just to reload additional ammunition, could cost someone their life since they are limited to only 10 unexpended cartridges to begin with. This concerns the issue of the AR-15 which is similar to our Armed Forces M4 and M16 assault rifles. Yes, this weapon was used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and on December 2nd, 2015 in San Bernardino where fourteen people were murdered. The AR-15’s used in San Bernardino’s mass shooting, were not obtained legally. If that terror attack was not constructed until recently where it would be affected by the new law restricting the capabilities, they would of more than likely obtained their weapons from another source other than the State of California, that of the criminal underground.
Emma E. Mcginty and two of her colleagues talk about the incidents of mass shootings and the effects it has on the public and governments stand point of the issue of the mixture of the mentally ill and firearms. The conclusion Mcginty and her colleagues had come to was “The aftermath of mass shootings is often viewed as a window of opportunity to garner support for gun control policies, but it also exacerbates negative attitudes toward persons with serious mental illness (Mcginty et al, 494). In the eyes of the people, they should be able to see that those guns that were in the hands of the mentally ill who committed mass shootings did not force them to pull the trigger. The people should focus on the solvability and control of the mentally ill rather than an object that if it were to sit on a table untouched, it will not do harm to society.
However, the country of Brazil is known to be a very violent and crime ridden country. From the drug lords to the smalls gangs who all possess firearms in protection from one enemy to the next. Brazil implemented anti-gun legislation in the year of 2004, as well as “…disarmament campaigns” (Souza). They compared the year of 2003 and the year of 2004 of firearm-related hospitalizations and observed that it had gone down “…4.6 percent from 2003 levels” (Souza). Souza states “More than 5,000 gun-related deaths in 2004 may have been prevented by the passage of Brazil’s gun control laws in 2003” (Souza). This may very well be the case, however, Brazil is still “known as having one of the world’s highest homicide rates” (Souza). Souza claims that “Population rates for firearm deaths estimated 21.72 per 100,000 in 2002” (Souza), for Brazil. They compared those rates to “…10.7 per 100,000 firearm-related homicides in the United States that same year” (Souza). Due to the fact that Brazil has one of the highest homicide rates, comparing their results to the United States, or simply California, one could state that the results of their anti-gun legislation could assist us in our firearm-related deaths. For the purpose of this argument, it would be safe to say the opposing views of the anti-firearm groups, would be positive towards an anti-gun legislation. It is possible that if the United States of America would make it illegal to own or possess a firearm outside of Law Enforcement and Military duties, that some of the gun violence would go down. However, criminals still have their ways of obtaining firearms, and this would simply create more victims of murders, robberies, burglaries due to the fact that no one is going to use a baseball bat or kitchen knife against a criminal who has a firearm.
Per the Central Disease Control centers statistics shows that in the year of 2015, approximately 3,095 people died in relation with firearms in the State of California. Approximately 970 people died in relation with firearms in the State of Arizona. Now, these numbers were not exact as to if they were accidental discharges, hunting accidents, gang related, robberies, rapes, or simply killing of one without malice. It is probable to believe that some were not the result of violence, however, accidents as well. The difference was approximately 2,125 deaths related to firearms between California and Arizona. The State of Arizona has more of a lenient set of gun laws then California. But the population of California is approximately 39 million and Arizona’s population is approximately 8.8 million. One could easily say that the higher population would obviously create a higher number of firearm related deaths with firearms present. But for every person in relation with firearms in California was out of approximately 12,600 as to Arizona every person killed in relation with firearms was out of approximately 9,072. There is still a huge difference in the number of firearm related deaths between California, who’s gun laws and restrictions of types of weapons and the capability of those weapons allowed for purchase are much greater then Arizona. These numbers were obtained from the year of 2015.
Now can the anti-gun groups really say that creating additional and more restrictive gun laws would decrease gun violence? It would be hard to see their grounds due to the fact with another state that is our next door neighbor with less gun laws and ones that are not as strict, has less firearm related deaths. However, this could be a number of reasons. This could be the case because there is less gang members, drug trafficking, or simply more education on firearm safety and ethics classes being taught to the residents of Arizona. If the last reason is the case, why not implement more firearm safety classes, ethics classes to our youth so that our community and citizens become more familiar and more comfortable with firearms. A community more comfortable with firearms as a means of protection for their safety, their family’s safety, and their property would make for a safer community for all to live within. There will always be crime and evil in this world, but the if the good were unarmed they cannot fight the evil when they are armed. That would be a battle lost every time.
As it was mentioned before, laws have already been put into place to prosecute and hold those accountable for violent gun crimes. Those mentioned in the beginning of this paper are only a few. The prosecution and accountability of those found guilty, completion of sentence terms without early release, and revocation of the possibility of parole or probation, is up to the people of the State of California. Proposition 57 allows the possibility of parole (Early Release) for non-violent criminals. However, the crimes that have been determined by the state and voted by the people of California to be ‘non-violent’ are of the following:
- “Rape by intoxication
- Rape of an unconscious person
- Human Trafficking involving sex act with minors
- Drive-by shooting
- Assault with a deadly weapon
- Hostage taking
- Attempting to explode a bomb at a hospital or school
- Domestic violence involving trauma
- Supplying a firearm to a gang member
- Hate crime causing physical injury
- Failing to register as a sex offender
- Discharging a firearm on school grounds
- Lewd acts against a child 14 or 15
- False imprisonment of an elder through violence” (BalletPedia)
It would be hard to imagine that the people of the State of California or simply any person of that matter, would think that the above crimes, are ‘non-violent’. The passing of this proposition has put our communities, law enforcement officers, and our children’s future at risk. Gun laws are a must, but taking the opportunities of mass shooting events, when a child is suddenly killed from gang gun fire and gang gun fired is ignored when a child isn’t killed, to create stricter gun laws is not the answer to solving crime. The answer to solving high crime rates and creating a safer place to live is to hold those accountable that are found guilty of their crimes, to serving their full sentence, and more severe sentences as specific offenses are continuously repeated. The taking and removal of firearms of law abiding citizens creates more of a hazard to our communities.
Kleck, Gary. Patterson, E. Britt. “The Impact of Gun control and Gun Ownership Levels on Violence Rates”, Journal of Quantitative Criminology, Vol. 9, No. 3, 1993. I located this article / reading through research of Google Scholar. One of the authors Gary Kleck is a Professor for Criminology at Florida State University. Kleck studies ‘guns on death’ and ‘injury in crimes’. E. Britt Patterson obtained his Ph.D. from the university of Maryland College. He studies racial impact on crime and crime causation. I will be using this source to support my claim that gun ownership for law abiding citizens will help deter criminals from committing crime on every day-to-day citizens.
Cook, Phillip J. Leitzel, James A. “Perversity, futility, Jeopardy, An Economic Analysis of the Attack on Gun Conrol”, 1996. I located this reading and information through research of Google Scholar. Phillip J. Cook is a Professor at Sanford School of Public Policy and is a Professor in the department of sociology. He has focused on crime and crime prevention including firearms. Cook also has his Ph.D. from the University of California Berkley. James. A. Leitzel obtained his Ph.D. in Economics and is the director of public policy studies. I will be using this information and reference the fact that gun laws simply do not affect the criminal world.
Levitt, Steven D. “Understanding Why Crime Fell in the 1990’s: Four Factors that Explain the Decline and Six That Do Not”, The Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 18, No. 1, 2004. This information was located through ‘The Journal of Economic Perspectives’. Steven D. Levitt is a professor of Economics at the University of Chicago. He co-authored Freakonomics. Steven mentions six factors that played “little to no role” in the reasons why crime had fell in the 1990’s. One of those factors is gun laws themselves.
Kates Jr. , Don B. “The Second Amendment: A Dialogue”, 1996. I located this information from researching gun laws through Google Scholar. Don B. Kates obtained a J.D. from Yale University of Law School. He studies constitutional law and civil rights law. I will be using this source to support my claims and describing the second amendment which allows us to bear arms in this free country.
Chemerinksy, Erwin. “Putting the Gun Control Debate in Social Perspective”, Fordham Law Review, Vol. 73, Issue 2, 2004. This source was also located through researching gun laws through Google Scholar. Erwin Chemerinksy is an expert in constitutional law, federal practice, and civil rights. I will be using this information to compare the two sides and opinions of the meaning of the second amendment that some believe was only created for the states to be able to arm their militias in defense of the people versus the people having the rights to bear arms in defense of tyranny government.
Mcginty, Emma E. et al. “Effects of News Media Messages About Mass Shootings on Attitudes Toward Person with Serious Mental Illness…”, Article in American Journal of Psychiatry, March 2013. As of most of my sources, this information was located through researching gun laws through Google Scholar. Emma E. McGinty is the assistant professor for health Policy. Daniel W. Webster is the professor for health policy and has affilations with Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research as well as Collen L. Barry. I will be using this information to show the result of mass shootings and the publicity is used to incriminate gun owners and how some believe owning guns causes mass shootings.
Souza de, Maria de Fatima Marinho et al. “Reductions In Firearm-Related Mortality and Hospitalizations In Brazil After Gun Control”. Healthaffairs.org. March 2007.