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Handgun control is a serious issue in America, as 17-19 percent of all adults in the United
States of America own a handgun. In 2008, 67 percent of all murders committed in the United
States were perpetrated with a gun. Gun rights advocates have met efforts to combat gun
violence in the United States through increased gun control with stiff opposition. This opposition
is based on the fear that increased gun control will gradually take away American citizens
ability to buy and own guns. To effectively cut down on handgun violence and misuse, the states
must enact a gun control policy that decreases peoples ability to misuse guns without taking
away their ability to possess firearms. Since the regulation of guns is a statewide prerogative,
such a policy should be enacted by the states. U.S. states should collectively require all handguns
purchased after 2020 to be equipped a tracking chip and automatic kill switch, require all
handgun purchasers to be registered in a statewide database so as to cut down on accidental
handgun deaths, discourage gun theft and misuse, and discourage potential offenders from
committing violent crimes.
Ever since our countrys founding, gun violence has been an issue in the form of civil
dueling, organized crime, and street-gang related killing. In the 1700s, public duels fought with
pistols caused the deaths of such men as Button Gwinnett, a signer of the Declaration of
Independence who was gunned down in 1777. Benjamin Franklin condemned such dueling as a
murderous practice which decides nothing. In the 1800s, gun control was advocated for in
the Western frontier, as many people knew too well the high human toll of gun violence.
According to Janey Vee, By the 1880s many in the west were fed up with gun violence. Gun
control, they contended, was absolutely essential, and the remedy advocated usually was usually
no less than a total ban on pistol-packing. In the 20
th
century, gun violence spiked with the
advent of Prohibition and the start of the War on Drugs [in 1971] . Spikes in gun use coinciding
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with these events shows that whenever there is an increase in criminal activity, there is likely to
be a causal increase in handgun related homicide. Prohibition caused the U.S. homicide rate to
double between 1910 and 1933. In 2007 in Chicago, 448 murders were committed, and
according to Justfacts.com, 75 percent of those murders involved a handgun. Throughout U.S.
history, handgun violence has plagued cities, with seemingly no solution to reduce the killing.
Past efforts to reduce gun violence were successful to some degree, but were not able to
effectively reduce it on the whole. The National Firearms Act of 1934 mandated a 200 dollar tax
on all machine guns and shotguns, while the National Firearms Act of 1938 required licensing of
interstate gun dealers and prohibited gun sales to individuals convicted of violent crimes. After
the Firearms Act of 1934 the murder rate plummeted, but this can also be attributed to the end of
Prohibition. Though this act was seemingly effective in reducing the murder rate, it failed to
regulate handguns, which, according to The Guardian, were used in 72 percent of U.S. murders
in 2012. In 1968, Congress passed the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, which
sought to prohibit all convicted felons, drug users and the mentally ill from buying guns; raise
the age to purchase handguns from a federally licensed dealer to 21; and expand the licensing
requirements to more gun dealers and require more detailed record-keeping(Washington Post).
However, this act was less successful than the National Firearms Act of 1934, and the homicide
rate, which had been rising since 1960, continued to rise until 1974. In 1994, Congress passed
the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act which created a 10 year federal ban on 19
different assault-rifle-like weapons, such as the Uzi, certain versions of the AK-47, and the AR-
15. The act also banned ammunitions magazines with a capacity of more than ten rounds.
According to the Washington Post, this act was created in an attempt to combat gang violence.
After this act was passed, the homicide rate lowered from 9.6 homicides per 100,000 people in
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1994 to 6.3 homicides per 100,000 people in 1998. However, the act failed to regulate handguns,
and The Task Force on Community Preventive Services found "insufficient evidence to
determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence."
Although past efforts to curtail gun-related homicides were in some cases effective, the nation
still does not have a comprehensive plan to drastically reduce handgun misuse and homicide.
Handgun violence is a very serious issue in the United States today. There are 32.5
handguns per every 100 American according to Justfacts.com, and 40-45 million adults privately
own a handgun. Based on Americas current homicide rate, about one in every 240 Americans
will be murdered(Justfacts.com). According to the National Institute of Justice, people
between the ages of 15 and 24 are most likely to be targeted by gun violence as supposed to
other forms of violence. Most gun-related violent crimes occur in cities and urban areas, and
involve teens and young adults. Handgun violence can also be a big problem in the home.
According to Dr. Arthur Kellerman, a psychologist at Emory University, when a homicide in the
home occurred, 76.7 percent of the victims were killed by a spouse, family member or someone
they knew, and there was no forced entry into the home 84.3 percent of the time. Strangers
comprised only 3.6 percent of the killers(huppi.com). In 2007, there were 613 fatal firearms
accidents in the United States, accounting for 1 in every 200 fatal accidents, which means that
accidental handgun discharging has a high human toll. Additionally, 1 in 50 fatal accidents
affecting children aged five to nine will involve a firearm, according to Justfacts.com. This
shows that handgun violence, theft, and misuse are serious issues in public and in the home.
A solution that would combat all three areas is to require handguns to have a kill switch,
which make them only usable by their owners, as well as tracking chips, that make the guns
more easily traceable. Modern handgun casualties can be attributed to 3 basic sources: crime by
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legitimate gun owners, intentional crime perpetrated by illegitimate owners (those who stole
weapons), and accidental handgun deaths. This being the case, the most effective way to
significantly reduce handgun crime and deaths is to combat all three areas of handgun misuse.
Coupled with these gun regulations, a statewide database of all handgun owners should be
established so that crimes perpetrated with handguns can be attributed to those in possession of
the guns. One example of a gun that only fires for its owner is the new Armatix IP1 which comes
with a watch that, when worn, arms the gun to fire. However, when the watch is not worn, the
gun cannot be fired, and is practically useless. Requiring future handgun purchases to be this
model would solve problems with handgun crime, theft and misuse, and accidents.
Equipping guns with tracking chips and registering owners in a database would also
reduce crime committed by gun owners. According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun
Violence, A gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used to kill or injure in a domestic
homicide, suicide, or unintentional shooting than to be used in self-defense. This alone shows
how often owners use their guns to commit crimes. Handgun use by legitimate owners is an issue
inside the home and in public. However, requiring guns to be equipped with tracking chips and
putting the names of gun owners in a statewide database would help change this. A would-be
criminal is much less likely to commit a crime with a handgun if that person knows that their gun
would be tracked and their name would be registered. According to the Law Library One way
of influencing (a criminals) choice is to make crime more difficult or to reduce the
opportunities. Tracking chips and a database of gun owners would cut down on crime by
making it less appealing to gun owners, and making it easier to catch those who do commit
crimes.
Tracking chips and owner-specific guns would reduce handgun deaths by stolen guns.
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According to the Public Broadcasting Service, Stolen guns account for about 10 percent to 15
percent of guns used in crimes." If this is the case, then creating a system where guns cannot be
stolen, or cannot be used when stolen, would cut down on gun-related crimes by 10 to 15
percent. In the case of the Armatix IP1 gun, the (companion) intelligent iW1 wrist watch arms
the weapon for firing (Armatix). If a criminal were to steal such a gun, they would also have to
steal the watch. That however, would be much more difficult, since watches are almost always
worn on ones person. If all handguns purchased after 2020 are required to be similar to the
Armatix IP1, handgun theft will decrease, and, as time passes and older guns break and go out of
circulation, almost vanish. Also, gun theft would become much less popular if criminals knew
that the guns they stole were equipped with tracking devices that told their whereabouts. Finally,
the theft resistant features that these guns have would be valuable in encouraging sales to gun
owners, who otherwise might buy conventional guns, or keep their old handguns. By mandating
that new handgun models available for purchase be equipped with tracking chips and automatic
kill switches, states could potentially cut down significantly on gun theft, which in turn would
help reduce crime.
Requiring guns purchased after 2020 to have owner-specific watches will also reduce
handgun deaths by cutting down on accidental handgun injuries. Although fatalities caused by
gun-related accidents are less common than those caused by crime, they still claim hundreds of
lives, and many gun related accidents involve children. Firearm injuries are the cause of death
of 18 children and young adults (24 years of age and under) each day in the U.S.
(Smartgunlaws.org). The vast majority of those firearm injuries are intentionally inflicted, but
accidental gun death is also a large cause of death. In 2007, there were 613 fatal firearm
accidents, and 5,045 non-fatal hospitalizations (Justfacts.com). According to the Law Center to
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Prevent Gun Violence, In the United States, over 1.69 million kids age 18 and under are living
in households with loaded and unlocked firearms. In 2011, handguns were the most commonly
owned type of gun in the United States, which means that requiring smart guns would save the
greatest amount of people from accidental death. If legislation required gun models such as the
Armatix IP1, a watch would be necessary to fire the weapon. In a case where the watch was
needed to fire the gun, the child or young adult using the gun without training could not be
harmed. Requiring guns to be installed with kill switches, or watches similar to for the Armatix
IP1 would reduce accidental gun deaths, especially among children and young adults.
Handgun violence caused 31,076 deaths in 2010, and the problem is not being effectively
solved by current gun control legislation. However, by reducing the possibilities for handgun
violence on all spectrums through slight modifications to the gun, the state could cut down
significantly on handgun deaths. Requiring the guns to be registered and equipped with tracking
chips would make gun owners much less likely to use handguns to commit violent crimes.
Giving guns tracking chips and kill switches would also make them much less convenient to
steal and to use when stolen, which would prevent gun violence using stolen handguns. Installing
a kill switch, or personal identification so that only the owner could use the gun would prevent
non-owners or children from discharging the gun and accidentally injuring themselves. Because
it would cut down on accidental handgun deaths, discourage gun theft and misuse, and prevent
people from committing crimes with guns, states should require all handguns bought after 2020
to be equipped with a tracking chip, installed with a kill switch, and their owners names entered
in a statewide database for later reference.