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Benjamin Kohli

Professor Packer
English 2010
18 November 2015

Gun Control: How Can We Protect Ourselves and Others?


In 1791, our legislative officials adopted our Second Amendment, which is otherwise
known as the Right to Bear Arms. This document entitles all American citizens the right to
keep and bear Arms. Also, included within this amendment is the powerful quotation which
states that this right shall not be infringed.
For the past 224 years this law has been in effect, and US citizens have been entitled to
the rights of this law, with the assumption that no man or power can actively break the terms
thereof. Most gun advocates consider ownership of a firearm a birthright and like any other
birthright they will not allow it to be taken away from them.
We the people do have rights to own firearms, but it seems to me, that with those rights,
people need to be mature enough and educated enough to bear their arms wisely. Plus, laws need
to be in place that protect the rights of all citizens living with firearms in their homes and
communities.
Statistics do verify that there is a significant problem in the United States with the
incompetent and the out-of-control nature of individuals who operate their firearms without
much thought. The USA contains less than five percent of the worlds population, but still
coincidentally has about 35-50 percent of the worlds civilian-owned guns. The USA also has the
highest homicide-by-firearm rate among the worlds most developed nations. According to the

FBI, there were 8,583 homicides by firearms in 2011, out of a total of 12,664 homicides.
(TheAlantic.)
Mature Individuals Can Bear Their Arms Responsibly
A person's age is the first criteria that must be met in order to operate firearms properly.
According to smartgunlaws.org (a law center that strives to prevent gun violence), Federal law
prohibits, with certain exceptions, the possession of a handgun or handgun ammunition by any
person under the age of 18. Federal law provides no minimum age for the possession of long
guns or long gun ammunition. (Smartgunlaws) In other words, its okay to own a rifle as a
youth, but to operate a handgun requires a certain age and maturity.
In the past, the government has passed laws that coincide with the Second Amendment to
protect its citizens. The government has passed bills and made laws to compensate for the
neglectful use of firearms. Historically, there have been nine laws that have passed.

The Gun Laws May Be Ineffective


Of the nine gun laws, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which prohibited the sale and
manufacturing of semi-automatic weapons with various military features, expired in 2004
because of its built-in sunset clause. According to dictionary.com, a sunset clause is a provision
of a law that it will automatically be terminated after a fixed period of time unless it is extended
by law. Now that this law has expired, individuals can purchase large-capacity magazines and
pistol grips. What is the need for having such high capacity magazines? It seems to me, that as
US citizens, we are not at war where a soldier normally needs to be able to shoot as many bullets
at a time before reloading.
Another gun control law that seems to be ineffective at keeping guns out of the wrong hands is
the Gun Control Act of 1968. The government is well aware of the fact that there is a gun show

loophole, which unfortunately allows anyone, even convicted felons, to purchase guns without a
background check. All an individual needs to do is show up at a gun show.

What Can We Do?


The second criteria that must be met is in the educating of the bearers of the firearms. There is
a fine line between how much education is needed to increase the safety of the general public,
while also keeping gun activists happy. One idea for educating the public is a type of fear tactic
that would make individuals think twice before committing a gun related crime. The general
public would be informed that the federal government would be involved in their court hearings
by issuing criminals longer and more severe sentences. In fact, in Richmond, Virginia they
released a project called Project Exile, which resulted in the same outcome. The government
could also try to launch more community-based programs like Boston did in the 1990s. This
community-based program called Operation Ceasefire was a very effective strategy used for
reducing gun violence. Individuals in Operation Ceasefire met with youth in areas of high crime
rates to teach them ways to avoid gang related activity.
Like other tools, guns can be used for good and bad purposes, but in order to use them
correctly, we must educate those individuals who own them. Just like any other potentially

dangerous tool, without proper education bad things can happen. It is time to do something about
this lack of education.
According to Paul Helmke, a professor of practice in the School of Public and
Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, the government needs to begin viewing the issue of
gun control like objects such as: automobiles, airplanes, food, alcohol and medications. In other
words, the government needs to begin studying and learning how to reduce the risks involved
with the handling of firearms like they normally would do for items such as automobiles,
airplanes, food, etc.. He explains that if we were to do this then the government would begin
learning how to reduce the risks involved in the handling of firearms through design
modifications, education, regulation, and/or legislation.
The Second Amendment has provided its US citizens with powerful Constitutional
Rights, but there needs to be on-going changes to keep its people safe. Until we make these
drastic changes through the adoption of new laws and more informative educational programs
pertaining to firearms, we cant expect to see any positive results. So, as we the people use our
freedoms to bear our Arms wisely as mature, responsible, educated adults, we will do our part as
Americans to help reduce the number of accidental and premeditated deaths in our homes and
communities each year.

Work Cited

Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 02 Oct. 2015.


Helmke, Paul. "Targeting Gun Violence." Public Administration Review 73.4 (2013): 551-552.
Business Source Premier. Web. 21 Sept. 2015.
Masters, Jonathan. U.S. Gun Policy: Global Comparisons, cfr, 24 Jun. 2015. Web. 28 Sept.
2015
"Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess Firearms Policy Summary." Law Center to Prevent Gun
Violence RSS. N.p., 1 Oct. 2013. Web. 02 Oct. 2015.
Stray, Jonathan. Gun Violence in America: The 13 Key questions (With 13 Concise Answers),
thealantic, 4 Feb. 2013. Web. 28 Sept. 2015
U.S. Gun Policy: Global Comparisons. Digital image. Small Arms Survey. Bachrach, Hagit., 24
Jun. 2015. Web. 28 Sept. 2015