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Gun Control: An EXPLORATORY RESEARCH PAPER







By Oscar Medrano
English 1010
SLCC
Summer 2014











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Gun Control can be a very sensitive topic among us Americans; our love for guns and our
right to bear arms becomes problematic when those who would abuse those rights and privileges
deter us into more constricting paths. I usually have a positive attitude towards guns and gun
owners, however the many mass killings and murders through the use of firearms have been
gaining an immense amount of media coverage fueling the fires of angry Americans which leads
me to the question should we instill stricter gun control laws? Or more seriously question our
right to bear arms in the first place? Another question we have to ask ourselves is instilling these
laws protecting citizens or are we simply “shooting ourselves in the foot” as a matter of
speaking.
In “The Truth About Mass Shootings and Gun control” by Benjamin Domenech an
American conservative writer, it focuses on the issues of how mass shootings through the use of
the media are affecting gun control laws here in America. The journal article begins by
addressing the issue at hand then moves onto explaining that when a major incident occurs it is
natural for people to act and declare laws to be put in place to avoid further incidents. This in
itself is noteworthy, we have laws in place to protect us whether its from others or simply just
preventative measures. Domenech thinks that these laws are formed by emotion rather than
reason saying “We recoil in shock and are overcome with sorrow. But then, as anger and
frustration set in, we begin to divide, to blame…we insist that something must be done, steps
must be taken, laws must be passed” (Domenech, 2013). This opinion of his represents his
opposition towards guns being banned and or becoming restrictive, and is fueled even more by
Dianne Feinstein, an anti-gun activist, who wanted to ban certain firearms through a bill to be
passed. No matter what laws are in place it does not prevent one who is “murderously insane”
from taking an innocent life that in itself is a mental health issue not the use of the gun as
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Domenech states: “Those who are determined, irrational, and insane will never respond to
rational signals or the threat of legal ramifications” (Domenech, 2013). I can’t say that I disagree
with his statement. He goes on by saying that research has shown that there have not been a rise
in mass shootings but its always been a consistent number. The fact that the media has been
covering these shootings is more of motivations by political leaders with their own agenda.
Domenech states history has shown that crime increases as gun restrictions are applied to the
public using the United Kingdom. In 1998 the United Kingdom enforced a Firearms Act that
banned citizen ownership of all handguns and as a result “by 2009, handgun crime had doubled.
As citizens disarmed, lawbreakers ran rampant” (Domenech, 2013). I really liked this article
because it answered some questions I had regarding very strict gun control laws and the effect on
crime or the population as a whole, and it affects our second amendment, the right to bear arms
and not have our rights be infringed upon. Overall I agree with Domenech but I still have
questions like how this would affect the law-abiding citizen if unarmed while those who could
care less would prey upon them? I’m also wondering if stricter gun control would eventually
lead to our guns being taken from us completely?
There is a publishing “Does Gun Control Reduce Crime or Does Crime Increase Gun
Control?” by John C. Moorhouse and Brent Wanner where these two compile data comparing
different areas gun regulations, economic, and ethnic backgrounds to give an approximate
outcome of stricter gun laws. Overall their findings resulted to this conclusion: “Right-to-carry
laws reduce violent crime rates, the reductions are greater in counties with proportionally higher
urban populations, and the laws afford relatively greater protection to minorities and women.
The latter groups are precisely those that are disproportionally victimized by violent crimes”
(Moorhouse & Wanner, 2006). However, this compilation of data can be considered
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inconclusive due to the fact that there are so many variables such as how the laws are enforced,
the actual behavior of criminals, and how were the firearms involved in the crime obtained.
Moorhouse and Wanner end the article leaving us with this question: if “gun control is
ineffective, why?” They leave the reader with two possible reasons the first being that “Law
abiding citizens can be expected to conform to the law and obtain permits, register guns, and
enroll in firearm safety courses. By contrast…criminals regularly violate the law by purchasing
guns on illegal black markets or by stealing them” (Moorhouse & Wanner, 2006). And to
summarize the second reason is that yes guns are purchased through dealers and retailers but a
huge majority of privately owned firearms have “been passed down through generations of
family members” and if the Government were to be “extensive and intrusive enough to regulate
all private transfers of firearms would raise significant civil liberties issues” (Moorehouse &
Wanner, 2006). More than infringing on the second amendment they could be taking away
precious family heirlooms. When I originally looked at this originally I thought that it might
give us a general idea of what gun control would look like, but obviously after reading it my
general thought is that maybe the only way to really know the outcome of gun control is to
actually enforce it. I myself don’t personally feel that this is the best way to go about it and
naturally this poses a lot of problems past just the second amendment because once it’s enforced
can it really be reversed?
I assume that most Americans consider the Second Amendment as a right to bear arms so
that we can protect ourselves and families from those posing a specific threat, most likely
intruders. This is true, but as Rick Robertson say’s in his article “The Case for Gun Control” that
the history behind the Second Amendment is also “about the defense against tyranny.” He
references the Colorado movie theater shooting saying “the only thing that will stop a bad man
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with a gun is a good man with a gun” (Robertson, 2012). He say’s that those who are mentally
unstable do most cases of mass shootings. Robertson continues to elaborate more, “when
individuals “go off,” they kill people in the dozens; when governments “go off,” they kill people
in the millions” (Robertson, 2006). Off course a great example of this is Germany: “Germany
was the most educated and technically advanced country in the world at the time (1940’s) and
yet murdered 20 million of its own people after disarming them less than 70 years previously”
(Robertson, 2006). He goes onto say a statement that I couldn’t agree more with: “People in the
government are people, and not automatically more trustworthy than your neighbor” (Robertson,
2006). We hope that the people in government are doing what they think is best but nevertheless
giving government all power and depending completely on them could lead an entire country to
a similar situation as Germany. He continues to give examples of social discord like the LA riots
in the 1960’s and the shop owners with firearms were able to protect themselves and business,
after Hurricane Katrina the people who were able to protect themselves from looters and
muggers. He say’s that we “have an absolute God given right” to protect our families and that
right is not the governments. Referring to exact moments of crisis “The government will not be
there when you most need it” (Robertson, 2012). I agree that it is my responsibility to protect
my family, nobody loves them way I do and nobody will fight for the way I will. And if
government were to have total control confiscate all firearms I can’t find a plausible situation
where the citizens could get them back. Furthermore, would such harsh gun laws reduce the
crimes? Robertson basically says no saying that statistics are misleading due to the fact that gun-
related murder rates in the US are compared to other countries and they are higher but what the
statistics don’t show is that “the overall murder rate is often much higher in the foreign country
but other means are used besides guns” (Robertson, 2012) It is also worthy to note that many of
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the gun crimes in the US are related to drug trade and the firearms being used are already
obtained illegally so disarming law-abiding citizens only makes them victims. Again I tend to
agree with Robertson that we don’t know what the future holds but it is our responsibility to
prepare and protect ourselves. So now we see why being able to arm ourselves can protect us
from corrupt government and intruders but what can really be done to keep guns out of the hands
of those who are mentally unstable and choose to commit the mass murders?
Jackie Kucinich reports in her article “Can Mental Health Care Reform Help Stop Mass
Shootings?” that congress is currently pushing for mental illness health care reform after a man
with a mental illness history killed six people in California. She quotes Representative Tim
Murphy, a Republican from Pennsylvania, saying “If guns caused mental illness, then we would
treat that; mental illness needs to be treated, and it is not” (Kucinich, 2014) The article say’s that
“people who are in treatment are 15 times less likely to be involved in an act of violence.” In
order to decrease the likely hood that these people receive guns there need to be some changes
made to the HIPAA Privacy Rule that would allow caregivers access to severely mentally ill
reports, which in turn would help with being able to keep firearms away from those that would
be dangerous as well as other weapons. I do believe that mental health care reform is a start to
preventing mass shootings but I worry that “when there is a will, there is a way” and if someone
is struggling with health issues and they snap and want to commit a mass murder then they will
with or without a gun. Which then leads me to wonder if those struggling with mental health
issues really that dangerous?
In most of the more commonly known mass shootings the shooters struggled with a
serious mental illness (SMI). So should all patients with SMI be put on a red-alert watch and
constantly monitored? I think it is fair to make sure they are encouraged to seek regular
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treatment to ensure they won’t act out in violence to anyone around them. “News Media
Framing of Serious Mental Illness and Gun Violence in the United States, 1997-2012” was
written to analyze the relationship between SMI patients and the likelihood of them being
violent. In the article the authors fear that the media coverage of these mass shooting will only
encourage the general population to fear people with SMI. I don’t think that people struggling
with SMI should be feared or treated differently but I do think that they shouldn’t be aloud to
purchase firearms. If they were to ever decide to discontinue treatment or have an overwhelming
day it could be what triggers them to cause harm to others and if they are not holding a firearm
the damage will be less.
After completing this paper my opinion about gun control has only been reinforced. I
believe the second amendment should stand and that every person should have the ability to
carry a firearm if they choose. I can’t help but think that if there were one citizen who was
carrying a firearm at any of these mass shootings there would have been fewer tragedies. After
researching and learning that these shooters struggled with SMI I would like to research more in
this area and how to help those patients from committing tragedies in the first place as well as
confirming ways to keep not just firearms but all weapons out of their hands.







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Works Cited:
Domenech, B. (2013). The Truth About Mass Shootings and Gun Control. Commentary,
135(2), 25-29.

Moorhouse, J. C., & Wanner, B. (2006). DOES GUN CONTROL REDUCE CRIME OR
DOES CRIME INCREASE GUN CONTROL?. CATO Journal, 26(1), 103-124.

Robertson, R. (2012). POINT:The Case for Gun Control. Psychiatric Times, 29(10), 14-
18.

McGinty, E. E., Webster, D. W., Jarlenski, M., & Barry, C. L. (2014). News Media
Framing of Serious Mental Illness and Gun Violence in the United States, 1997-2012.
American Journal Of Public Health, 104(3), 406-413. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2013.301557

Kucinich, J. (2014). Can Mental Health Care Reform Help Stop Mass Killings?.
Washington Post-Retrieved From: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-
politics/wp/2014/06/03/can-mental-health-care-reform-help-stop-mass-killings/